2014 Kia Sportage first drive

Kia Sportage first drive





Kia will pilot a new way for customers to test their cars with home visits by dealers.


The pilot programme will begin in a few weeks and if it proves popular will be rolled out nationwide among the 180 dealers.

Kia Corporate Communications Director Stephen Kitson said their new incentive comes after a study showed new car buyers were now making less than two visits to dealers before deciding on their next car.

He went on, “People used to make four or five dealer visits but the arrival of the internet has altered that because buyers do their research on-line, know what they want, the colour they want and the specification and even the best price they can pay.

“We want to build on our customers’ expectations and make them feel part of the Kia family so we are about to launch our ‘test at home’ scheme so they will not have to visit a dealer to test a model before they buy.”

He added that the home tests follow Kia’s very successful on-line service booking programme and the home test scheme will be set up in the same way among participating dealers in the pilot and before its national introduction.

Twenty years ago, Kia was selling fewer than 4,000 cars annually in the UK and a decade ago it had risen to over 33,400 sales but this year it’s likely to pass 80,000 registrations. The UK is now Kia’s largest European market and in the first six months of this year the brand has sold a record 40,000 new cars, a growth of 10%.

An estimated 500,000 Kia models are now registered in the UK since the brand launched in Britain in 1991 when it sold just 1,800 cars in 12 months.

With the introduction of the seven-year warranty at the turn of the century, the brand really took off and it was helped by the Government scrappage scheme.

Then the arrival of chief designer Peter Schreyer revolutionised the look of the models inside and out and technological improvements built on the modern appeal of their looks.

All the time, Kia has majored on customer service and the logical next step is test at home, said Mr Kitson.

The latest Kia Sportage and other models by David Miles

Driving their years of continuous UK sales growth the South Korean Kia brand has an extensive range of models covering the majority of volume selling sectors. These range from the popular three and five door Picanto City Cars priced from £8,045 up to the large Sorento 4×4 from £26,700. All are backed by Kia’s customer-friendly seven-year warranty, appealing PCP purchase plans and fixed price servicing packages.

Kia Sportage first driveKia Sportage first driveKia Sportage first driveKia Sportage first driveIn between the Picanto and the Sorento are the Rio B-segment small hatch, the Venga compact MPV, the Soul – their funky hatchback cum MPV, the pro-cee’d three door hatchback, cee’d five door hatchback, cee’d Sportswagon estate, the Carens large MPV, the Optima D-segment saloon and the very popular two and four wheel drive C-segment Sportage SUV models, their best selling model range.

It is the Sportage SUV or crossover range of five door, five seater models with 1.6 GDI direct injection petrol or 1.7 and 2.0 CRDi turbodiesel engines that have become the flagship of the range even though they are not the largest or the most expensive. The 1.6 petrol and 1.7 diesel versions have 2WD, the 2.0-litre diesel has KX intelligent 4WD as standard. Spec levels range from ‘1’ to KX-4 depending on the engine chosen, most have manual gearboxes the 2.0-litre diesel offers both manual and auto transmissions but again that depends of the level of spec chosen. Prices start at £17,500 and rise to £29,505.

The Sportage is Kia’s best selling model range with 20,796 UK sales last year equating to around 25% of their total registrations. Sixty-five per cent of Sportage customers choose a diesel model and 80% buy a 2WD model.

The Official UK sales figures supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show the Sportage in the Dual Purpose sector is the best selling range just ahead of the Range Rover Evoque and over 5,000 sales ahead of the Honda CR-V. A bit misleading is the fact that Nissan chooses for the Qashqai not to be classed as a Dual Purpose range and they sold over 50,000 units in the UK last year.

I have just sampled the Sportage in its most popular guise, the 1.7 CRDi ‘3’ SatNav with 2WD and 6-speed manual transmission priced at £23,900. Or as around 80% of overall UK new car buyers choose to do, opt for a PCP personal contract payment which works out at £255.77 per month over three years with a 10,000 annual mileage allowance. There is of course a deposit of £5,450 to be paid but Kia is currently offering a £600 deposit contribution.

As we know sales of SUVs or crossovers have grown enormously to become the UK’s third best selling market sector with 248,000 registrations last year, many more if you count in the Nissan Qashqai and Juke models. Even though most are only 2WD vehicles people like the elevated styling and spacious seat/load carrying versatility they offer plus the perceived status of owning an off-roader – even a 2WD one.

Kia Sportage first driveThe changes to the 2014 Sportage range include upgrades to the styling and equipment levels and more models making it a 16 variant range. All versions now have trailer stability assist which works in conjunction with the electronic stability control system and tyre pressure alert is also an additional function. Other standard fit items now include alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows front and rear, adjustable steering, LED daytime running lights, body coloured electric door mirrors, remote central locking, leather covered steering wheel and gearlever knob, front fog lights and cornering lights, rain sensing wipers, Bluetooth with voice recognition, cruise control and steering wheel mounted controls.

Additional spec for the grade ‘3’ SatNav version I tried includes leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, dual zone climate control, reversing camera, flex adjustable weighted steering, Xenon headlights, automatic lights, 18-inch alloys and off course SatNav which uses a 7-inch LCD integrated screen.

All this is wrapped up in a stylish five door elevated body with a coupe style side profile. Sharp, modern, expensive looks outside and in are the main selling features in this aspirational sector, more so than the driving manners but affordable running costs are also priorities.

The Sportage doesn’t disappoint when it comes to those running costs. It might not have the most pulsating ‘Sports’ handling or outright engine speed performance as its name suggests but it is comfortable, relatively agile in the handling department and it is easy to drive. The Coupe design towards the rear does incur some blind-spots for visibility so there is some evidence of style over function.

However back to running costs and performance. The 1.7-litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine produces a reasonable 114bhp but the more important is the torque figure of 192lb ft is delivered from only 1,250rpm. This impressed me with its responsiveness and flexibility accelerating with minimal gear changing from the slick 6-speed gearbox and it was just as impressive running a low speeds in heavy traffic in high gears – all good for fuel saving. Officially the Combined Cycle figure is 52.3mpg and my short-ish test drive using Cotswold A/B roads and some winding country lanes returned a very impressive 47.8mpg. I can easily see the official figure being well within the capabilities of this vehicle on a longer run. With CO2 emissions of 143g/km VED road tax is £180 a year and company car users will pay 24% Benefit-in-Kind tax. It isn’t the cleanest CO2 diesel engine around today in its sector but I don’t mind that because it is responsive so its nicer to drive and the unit is relatively quiet both on start-up and whilst cruising along. Being a country dweller and needing to take into consideration our rotten road surfaces and the ever worsening Winter weather, I’d opt for a 4×4 model it’s just a pity this engine is only available with front wheel drive traction.

As for performance in terms of speed, well as I said it’s not ‘Sports’ as the name suggests, just 107mph top speed but that is of no importance in the real-world but the zero to 60mph acceleration time is a mediocre 11.9 seconds. Again not so important but it is down on some other models in this sector. What is important is thanks to the high torque it pulls strongly from low speeds right through the rpm range so making driving easy and relaxed.

The popularity of the Kia Sportage cannot be disputed, people love the looks, the specification, the lifestyle image and the low running costs plus of course the long warranty. It’s peace of mind motoring, relatively easy to live with and easy on the pocket.

MILESTONES: 2014 Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi manual ‘3’ SatNav 5-door crossover. Price: £23,900. Engine/transmission: 1.7-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with intelligent stop & go, 114bhp, 192lb ft of torque from 1,250rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive. Performance: 107mph, 0-60mph 11.9 seconds, 52.3mpg Combined Cycle (47.8mpg on test), CO2 143g/km, VED road tax £180, BIK company car tax 24%. Insurance group: 13. Warranty: 7-years/100,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,440, W 1,885, H 1,645, boot/load space 564 to 1,353-litres. Braked towing weight: 1,200kg. For: Good looks inside and out, high specification, practical, fuel efficient so low on running costs, comfortable. Against: Engine offers flexible power delivery rather than sporty performance, rear seats do not fold completely flat, rear quarter blind-spots, only 2WD option with this engine. Robin Roberts  Miles better news agency

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