If you want a good example of how to be a success, take a good look at Kia. The past decade has seen a metamorphosis that now results in this brand fighting for class honours. A particular model of note is the Sportage of which has capitalised on the booming SUV sector, an area which has grown as others receded. Making up almost a third of all Kia sales, Sportage is clearly an important product and so the introduction of an all-new car is a key thing to get right. This 2016 Kia Sportage doesn’t just want to take part in the battle for dominance, it wants to win!
Looking at the 2016 Kia Sportage next to its predecessor clearly shows this car to be a revolution and not an evolution. Whilst still retaining recognisable Sportage DNA, the new car has a stylish focus that is much more premium. Kia’s unique “tiger nose” grill and a set of raked headlights present the new family face. Short overhangs, and stout proportions gives the car a chunky demeanour and a purposeful stance. As I am sure many of you can see, it is tattooed across the door, that this is a First Edition car which means it has all of the toys. Externally you don’t just get the stripes, but also these larger 19 inch alloy wheels which look great.
The interior provides a spacious area for occupants. This is further amplified by our test cars full length panoramic roof which is also able to letting in those summer breezes. Rear passengers will find themselves with excess to stretch out as even the tallest of passengers fit neatly in the back. That middle seat isn’t so much a “short straw” option as a low transmission tunnel means there is somewhere to put your feet. Moving forwards, the driver is treated to a high driving position and, because this is the First Edition, every toy under the sun. Heated and cooled leather seats, dual zone climate control, JBL premium audio system, park assist, reversing camera, wireless phone charger, and the list goes on. A nice responsive ergonomic 8 inch touch screen display provides infotainment. Cabin quality is good with materials promoting a sense of durability, and in this top spec car, a touch of luxury. A large 491 litre boot is all yours, but fold those rear seats flat and that extends to a vast 1,480 litres.
All 2016 Kia Sportage First Edition cars are equipped with a 2.0 litre diesel engine and all wheel drive. It is a strong unit producing 182 BHP and 295lb ft of torque. Whilst this SUV doesn’t move as the Porsche that inspired its stripes, it never feels lacking. This engine does grumble a bit under load but settles down once up to speed. Power is sent to the ground via an automatic gearbox which is generally ok, but it is not as quick to respond as Kia’s new 7 speed dual clutch box found on other engine options. On a motorway this Sportage is a great cruiser and with lane keep assist and cruse control activated, it practically drives itself. Long journeys soon pass by and you arrive comfortable thanks to those accommodating seats. Leaving the motorway for B-roads, the high levels of grip this car affords is immediately notable. AWD also means that you are well equipped if the weather takes a turn for the worse. There is a bit of body roll and the steering could do with some more weighting, but overall the car handles itself rather well. The ride is capable of softening the bumps of our often lumpy roads, but we would advise smaller alloy wheels for the best refinement. That light steering is useful around town as the Sportage never feels cumbersome. Good all around visibility means that it is easy to live with and never really feels like a big car.
The 2016 Kia Sportage is a very well executed family machine. It combines practicality with good looks and a seemingly unbeatable 7 year 100,000 mile warranty. There is one hiccup with this specific Sportage though… It costs £31,650 which is a lot of money, even if it is good value for all of the kit loaded onto this special edition. The model to go for in our eyes is the KX-2 as it comes with plenty of equipment such as a 7 inch touch screen and reversing camera, but it starts as a competitive £20,500. Tick the box for that new 1.7 litre diesel engine and you are on to a winner. In that specification I have no doubt that this car could achieve 4.5 stars. Why? Because the 2016 Kia Sportage is arguably the best in its class.