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New Sportage looks a winner

Created on 09/02/2016 @ 10:47
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Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Kia is quickly emerging as a front-runner in the small SUV class and the arrival of the fourth generation Sportage will push company sales closer to the top.

The third generation model was Kia’s best seller in the UK and was a huge improvement on its predecessor – the latest arrival takes those improvements a stage further and you’ll be seeing a lot more of this Sportage.

Sportage already had a lot going for it but Kia has built on those strengths to improve on efficiency, CO2 levels, connectivity levels and technology advances to step up the game against rivals Nissan Qashqia, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tuscon and the Ford Kuga.

There are now four engines with five power outputs and three transmissions with the introduction of a 1.6-litre T-GDi unit and a 7DCT (seven-speed dual-clutch automatic) gearbox, both of which are reserved exclusively for GT-Line.

They join extensively re-engineered 1.6-litre GDi petrol and 1.7- and 2.0-litre turbodiesel power units with improved fuel economy and CO2 reductions of up to 29g/km, which means significantly lower company car tax for the Sportage's loyal business drivers.

Fleet buyers are predicted to snap up 60% of Sportage sales and they will love this new Kia, particularly the 1.7CRDi manual, which I found to be the pick of the range on a driving exercise in the mountains of southern France.

It’s little wonder that the 1.7-litre CRDi is preferred by more than half of all Sportage buyers and the new model is now more than 7mpg more fuel-efficient in combined mode, while its CO2 output falls by 16g/km to 119g/km.

You get a top speed of 109mph with the 1.7 along with 0-60mph in 11.1seconds and average fuel consumption of over 60mpg.

There is a reduction in CO2 of 29g/km for the lower-powered (134bhp) 2.0-litre CRDi engine with automatic transmission, while with the higher-powered (182bhp) version of the same engine with automatic transmission the reduction is 23g/km.

Six-speed manual gearboxes are fitted to every model, but the 2.0-litre diesels are available with a six-speed torque converter automatic which is a standard feature on the First Edition).

Intelligent all-wheel-drive is standard on 1.6-litre T-GDi and 2.0-litre CRDi versions. It normally delivers 100 per cent of engine torque to the front wheels, but this can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-to-rear to enhance cornering stability or if road conditions deteriorate. For off-road driving, owners can manually select lock mode, which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph.

The system is now linked to Advanced Traction Cornering Control, which monitors road speed, throttle input and steering angle and distributes torque between the left and right wheels to maximise cornering stability.

A number of other electronic features increase safety such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) counteracting any understeer or oversteer.

The new Sportage is 40mm longer than its predecessor, with a 30mm greater wheelbase but unchanged width and height – dimensions which make it look even more lithe and sporty while lowering its co-efficient of drag (Cd) from 0.35 to 0.33 - helping to lower fuel consumption and emissions.

There are improvements inside the cabin too where the lack of visible instruments is the most striking feature on modes from grade-2 upwards thanks to a 7 or 8inch touchscreen system containing all the technology we have come to expect from quality manufacturers.

Visibility is improved thanks to a taller tailgate, narrower pillars and lower door mirrors while there is more room inside the five-seat cabin thanks to the wider wheelbase. Boot capacity, with the spare tyre in place, has risen by 26 litres  with all seats in use at 491 litres, or 1,480 litres when they are folded down.

It’s disappointing that the rear seats still don’t fold completely flat, something that always annoys me when carrying bigger loads, bit it’s only a small irritation.

In the UK the Sportage is already Kia's best-selling model, claiming close to 29 per cent of the company's sales thanks in a big way to the company’s unique seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty.

You also get Kia’s Care-3 and Care-3 Plus servicing packages, offering retail customers fixed-cost, inflation-proof servicing for the first three or five years. And the added bonus is that both warranty and servicing packages are fully transferrable should you sell the vehicle on.

The Sportage is also a very safe car to drive, receiving a five-star rating from Euro NCAP and praise for levels of passenger protection.

The new Sportage scores highly all-round. It’s an easy and comfortable car to drive, sits well and handles firmly on mountainous roads and is set to be a leader in the small SUV sector sales this year.

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