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Kia Sportage: Test Drive Report

Date: 16 June 2010   |   Author: Tristan Young

The Kia Sportage has been the brand's 'biggest breakthrough' in fleet
Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £20,000*
Key rival: Ford Kuga

Next to arrive in the UK as part of Kia's new-model onslaught is the all-new Sportage.

Based on the same underpinnings as the ix35 from sister firm Hyundai, the Sportage will be pitched more as a Nissan Qashqai rival than as a rival to other small 4x4s, which is how the outgoing Sportage is sold. To reinforce the 'Qashqai alternative' message, Kia predicts 80% of the new Sportages will be front drive, similar to the split for the Qashqai. However, the front-drive version won't arrive until later this year; coming first is the all-wheel drive version powered by a 136PS diesel, tested here.

Even the 4x4 version is, in the main, front-drive, only pushing power to the rear when the fronts lose grip. There is also a manual override that fixes power delivery 50/50 front and rear, and if you are going to do more than park on the verge then Kia's version of hill descent control, called DBC, is also available, using the anti-lock brake system to peg downhill speed to 5mph.

On road the car performs well. However, the car BusinessCar tested was set up for the Korean market. UK cars will have different suspension settings as well as work done on the noise and refinement levels. If Kia gets to the same level of driver involvement and fun with UK Sportages that the ix35 possesses then there will be nothing to worry about, although the engine refinement needs a greater level of work to meet the class best.

Emissions-based taxation, both from VED and benefit-in-kind, are the reasons for the high proportion of front-drive cars in this sector, but even the manual version of the 136hp 2.0-litre diesel Sportage with 4x4 transmission comes in at 149g/km and 49.6mpg, while the auto tested here should just sneak below the 160g/km capital allowance threshold.

Other engine options include a fleet-unfriendly 166hp 2.0-litre petrol at 177g/km plus a 140hp 1.6 petrol offering 149g/km, as well as the expected most popular fleet model, the 115hp 1.7-litre diesel. Kia engineers have also promised to add a 125g/km version of the 1.7-litre diesel by 2011.

On top of the impressive CO2 figures, the interior build quality is also impressive and Kia have promised even better materials for UK-bound cars.

Equipment levels and pricing have yet to be set, but Kia's record on this is unrivalled so expect whole-life costs to be seriously attractive.

Assuming Kia gets the tweaks right for UK cars (a safe bet), then fleets will have yet another reason to talk to Kia about a fleet deal.

Kia Sportage 136hp 2.0 D auto
P11D price£20,000*
Model price range£16,000-£21,000*
Fuel consumption45.6mpg*
CO2 (tax)159g/km (23%)*
BIK 20/40% per month£76/£153
Service interval18,000mls*
Insurance group20*
Boot space (min/max)375*/1353 litres
Engine size/power1995cc/136hp
Top speed/0-62mph113mph/12.1 secs*
On saleugust 2010
VerdictRefinement lets it down, but EU
tweaks could see score rise
* estimated


Refinement lets it down, but EU tweaks could see score rise