Kia Sportage. The styling was controversial to begin with but many people have grown to love itKia Sportage. The styling was controversial to begin with but many people have grown to love it
Kia Sportage. The styling was controversial to begin with but many people have grown to love it

Is the Sportage the best car on the road?

So, what’s the best real-world car today? Well, for me, real-world means a car which doesn’t take an age to recharge so that means it has to be petrol, diesel or hybrid.

So, what’s the best real-world car on the road? I’m not talking sporting exotica or flashily eccentric. Just a good, executive-class car which does what it is supposed to.

BMW 5 Series used to be it. It was undeniably good, a car to be proud of and one which in the grand scheme of things didn’t cost a fortune. More than a Mondeo or Insignia, of course, but not that much more.

The world has changed now with ministers pushing us to drive electric, as if the Government knows a thing or two about motoring. If it does, it has certainly kept it well concealed.

It has to be reasonably affordable, yet have enough presence to shine in the car park. It must be well equipped with kit which you actually need and use, which rules out the slightly ridiculous camera-mirror system which some cars have.

Plus, it must have some performance so it can impress at the lights. OK, so speed isn’t so crucial these days but it’s still important to get away sensibly quick, don’t you think.

So, my choice is the Kia Sportage, a model I first drove in Switzerland at the global launch in 1993. It was an impressive vehicle then, costing if I recall correctly around £20,000.

Over 30 years, the Sportage SUV has seen four generations come and go, and is now represented by the fifth generation. The latter is the most stylish, modern, technologically advanced and eco-conscious version of the popular family favourite. Over its five generations, Kia has sold more than seven million examples of the Sportage worldwide, including over 384,000 in the UK alone.

Times have changed. Cars are no longer simplistic machines. Sportage tested here is fabulously equipped and retails at £42,000, yet it is still exceptional value. You’ll have to look at list prices for rival models to be convinced but believe me, there is nothing better on the road for the money.

And Sportage starts at a more reasonable £28,000.

The statistics support my argument. Sportage was the best-seller in January and Kia is the third best-selling brand in the UK. You can say Kia has properly arrived. It is no longer a minor importer. It dines at the top table now with Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and co.

In January alone Kia sold 4,239 Sportages.

Overall, Kia ended the month as the third best-selling brand with 10,207 cars sold, growing 13.2 per cent year on year, and claiming a 7.1 per cent market share. The UK car market grew 8.4 per cent in January year-on-year.

Leading Kia’s sales success in the UK were its Eco models (fully electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid), which accounted for over 50 per cent of sales (5,175).

Kia ended the month as the second best-selling Eco car brand.

January marked the start of sales for the fully electric seven-seat EV9, which coupled with the Niro EV, EV6 and Soul EV saw Kia increase EV sales by 14 per cent year-on-year, and finish the month as the fourth most popular EV brand. Niro EV was the sixth best-selling electric car overall in an increasingly saturated segment.

Kia won four awards at the 2024 What Car? Awards, including: ‘Best Family SUV’ for the Sportage.

January’s sales follow Kia’s consistent success throughout 2023, which ended with 107,765 cars sold – the second consecutive year of over 100,000 sales – that made Kia the sixth best-selling brand in the UK overall.

So, how does the test model stack up? It’s the GT-line S model which is very well equipped but – unlike some over-complicated models – it is easy to get to grips with.

The cabin is wonderful. It has a 12.3in display which dominates the dashboard and it has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice control. Again, easier to operate than you might imagine.

It has ample storage, too, wireless phone charging and Bluetooth and music streaming services built in.It has plenty of USB charging points front and rear for gadget-mad passengers plus a Harman Kardon sound system. Front and rear parking sensors are good and the 360 degree camera is brilliant.

It has an electronic parking brake, smart cruise control, powered tailgate, multi-zone climate control and suede leather upholstery. The panorama sunroof gives the cabin a bright and airy feel and it has no end of hi-tech safety features.

They include anti-lock braking, of course, but also stability systems, lane keep assist, hill-start assist control, downhill brake control and blind-sport avoidance to mention just a few.

It looks and feels like a substantial SUV but it actually drives and feels like a refined hot-hatch.

It has terrain mode which means this car can cope with less than ideal conditions. I’m not sure you would really want to go off road in one but it will handle mud, snow, gravel and ice better than most cars.

The warranty – arguably the best in the business – should give you peace of mind for seven years.

It is certainly a good all-rounder. I think you’ll struggle to find a better car for the money.

Kia Sportage GT-line S

Price: £42,275 on the road. Range starts at around £28,000

Engine: 1,598cc four-cylinder petrol engine generating 226bhp. It also has a 1.49kWh battery pack

Performance: Top speed 120mph and 0 to 60mph in eight seconds

Economy: 44.1mpg combined

Emissions: 146g/km

Warranty: Seven years, 100,000 miles

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