I’VE often said that most owners of 4x4 vehicles seldom go off the tarmac with them so I reckon it makes perfect sense when a manufacturer decides to offer its SUV as a two-wheel drive version, writes Allan McIntyre.
Kia’s Sportage was already good enough to lift the Scottish Car of the Year and top SUV awards in November of last year after motoring writers tested their four-wheel drive models.
The latest arrivals are an extra bonus and will add to the Sportage’s appeal. It is a stunning looker in this sector and the Arctic White test car, with its privacy glass roof and windows, really stood out.
The 16-model range features four engines, including brand-new highly efficient 1.6-litre and direct-injection petrol and 1.7-litre turbodiesels as well as 2-litre units.
There are three trims levels, quite simply 1, 2 and 3, and also a range-topping ‘Sat-Nav’ grade.
Standard trim is high on the entry-model and includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured electric door mirrors, a leather-covered steering wheel and gear lever knob, front fog lights and cornering lights, automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls and an iPod connection.
Trim 2’s additions include part-leather upholstery, roof rails and privacy glass, reversing sensors, panoramic sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, luggage net, adjustable drivers seat lumbar support and a trip computer.
The 1.7 CRDi ‘3 Sat-Nav’ test car was equipped with even more standard items which included full black leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, Xenon headlights with washers and 18-inch alloys.
Driving comfort in the high-quality interior was excellent with the adjustable seat height and lumbar support, along with the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, allowing you to get the perfect position.
This Sportage was a quiet performer right up through its six-speed manual gearbox with the 114bhp turbo unit punchy enough through the gears to give speedy acceleration when required.
It moved from standstill to 60mph smartly enough in 11.9 seconds and has a top speed of 107mph. Fuel consumption figures, assisted by the stop and start engine system are impressive, achieving 52.3mpg combined, 44.8mpg urban and 56.5mpg extra urban.
Ride in the Sportage was comfortable and it was excellent cruising on the motorway with little engine, road or wind noise coming through.
There is room in the rear for three adults and the with seats up a good amount of luggage space at 564 litres, extending to 1,353 with seats folded.
The top Sat-Nav version sampled also brought a rear-view safety camera integrated into the sat-nav screen.
Sportage prices start at £17.020 but this top-of-the-range model is quite a package – it also includes Kia’s seven-year warranty – and at £23,065 is a stylish SUV of outstanding value.