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Kia Sportage: Test Drive

Date: 13 November 2007   |   Author: David Motton

Category: 4x4
Prices: £13,995-£19,995
Key rival: Jeep Patriot

As facelifts go, it's not a big one. But despite having to look hard to spot the changes Kia has made to the Sportage, all those small tweaks do add up.

There's a new grille, larger door mirrors and body-coloured bumpers, but it's the changes you can't see that really matter. An automatic diesel is available for the first time, and tweaks to the steering and suspension promise a sharper drive. There's now a seven-year warranty, which should help residuals, and two-wheel-drive versions that offer the image of an off-roader but with a keener price.


You might think the two-wheel-drive diesel would be the pick of the range for business driving, but Kia has taken the curious decision to offer this combination with the automatic gearbox only. Emissions and fuel consumption are actually worse than the four-wheel-drive manual, rather wasting the advantage of two-wheel drive.

Fortunately the 2.0-litre petrol is available with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. Its price of £13,995 is £2200 less than the four-wheel drive diesel, which is more than enough to offset its slightly higher tax band. The extra pull of the diesel makes it the better car, but the entry-level petrol makes good fiscal sense.

On the road, the facelifted model is certainly an improvement over the previous Sportage. But this is no cut-price Land Rover Freelander. The steering is weighty but short on feel, and the ride never really feels settled, even on smooth dual-carriageways. Road noise will become irritating on a long journey, too, although the 138PS diesel has plenty of punch for overtaking.

Inside, the Sportage is surprisingly spacious, especially in the back. There's also a good-sized boot.

Kia has done enough to keep the Sportage fresh until the all-new model arrives in a couple of years, but the decision to make the 2WD diesel auto-only is a missed opportunity.