On the move, Kia has stiffened the chassis of this fourth generation model, while re-tuning the suspension and redesigning the steering system, all in pursuit of a firmer, sportier, more European-feel at the wheel. If that’s what you want, then that’s what this Sportage now delivers: just be aware that the experience is very different to what was on offer previously. There’s far less change beneath the bonnet, the engine line-up including basically the same options as before, though the units in question have been updated to meet more efficient Euro6 standards. As a result of that, the 114bhp 1. 7-litre CRDi diesel derivative we’re trying here is capable of 61. 4mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km of CO2.
Diesel drivers wanting all-wheel drive or the option of automatic transmission will need to stretch up to one of the 2. 0-litre CRDi models – there’s a choice of 134bhp or 182bhp outputs, both only offered with 4x4 traction. For petrol people meanwhile, there’s a budget-orientated front-driven 130bhp 1. 6-litre GDI variant at the foot of the range. Or a pokier 174bhp T-GDI petrol turbo model if you’re able to stretch to the sportier ‘GT-Line’ trim level.
Do you like it? It’s important to Kia that you do because looks were high on the list of reasons why customers bought the previous generation model. This fourth generation version doesn’t perhaps quite have the elegance of that car but arguably, a bit more streetside presence has been introduced this time round, particularly at the front end, which seems to remind many of a junior league Porsche Cayenne.
Time to look inside. It’s now slightly easier to get in and out because the floor has been lowered by 40mm and once behind the wheel, you’ll find a driver-centric fascia that’s a little more angled towards the driver, with flush-fitting fixtures and trim, soft-to-the-touch materials and smart detailing like the silver trim used around the airvents. It’s a big step forward from the cabin of the previous model, which wasn’t really able to match the sophistication of the exterior styling.
Helping in this regard is a reduction in the number of switches and buttons thanks to the installation of this centre dash infotainment touchscreen, a standard feature providing you avoid entry-level trim.
In the back, I’ll mention something I should have touched upon in the front: namely that the seats are more comfortable this time round. They offer firmer side supports and softer foam, plus here in the rear they recline for greater comfort on longer trips.
Let’s take a look out back. Raise the slightly heavy tailgate and you’ll find that boot capacity has risen by 26-litres with this MK4 model – to 491-litres with a temporary spare wheel in place, a feature by the way that’s standard across the range, providing you avoid the entry-level 1. 6-litre petrol engine.
Expectations were high for this fourth generation Sportage – and it satisfies many of them.
It’s a certainly a confident car, firm in stance, in ride and in the value proposition it offers – exactly in fact, the sort of thing many Qashqai-class buyers will be looking for. Yes, you could pay much more for a Crossover of this kind. But after trying a Sportage, you might well end up questioning the need to. Which says it all really.