Getting more than you pay for?
In these financially uncertain times, value for money is increasingly becoming a necessity rather than just being a welcome bonus. Car makers are finding ever more lucrative ways of squeezing more money out of punters by offering things we expect to have as a matter of course as an optional extras.
This isn’t a problem for the Germans. The likes of BMW would have a hard time not selling a car, regardless of how many extras you need to add on. Other, lesser known manufacturers need a hook, something to get you interested and lead you away from the German supremacy.
The Sportage specification list looks good, with leather seats, climate control, CD/MP3 player, four-wheel-drive, electric windows all round and a bucket load more gadgets including the ubiquitous iPod connection, all fitted as standard. A similar spec BMW X3 would cost almost £33,000 whereas Kia are asking a more humble £19,195 for a top line Sportage.
The engine on show here is the 2.0-litre common rail turbo diesel mated to a six speed manual gearbox. It isn’t a match made in heaven though, as the gearbox feels lumpy and lacks the slick precision of some of its rivals. The gear ratios are unusually set, with first gear being incredibly short requiring an almost instant change to second when pulling away.
The engine itself is torquey, but suffers from low down turbo lag. Once up to speed and cruising the engine is quiet and unintrusive. The ride is comfortable and the suspension soaks up any imperfections, but the pay off for smoothness is that the Sportage suffers greatly with body roll. Sportage is a confusing name for this car, as it lacks any real ‘sporting’ credentials or feel. The Sportage Titan is equipped with an intelligent 4WD system that will switch on if extra grip is needed, or will stay permanently on at the press of a button. When the 4WD engages by itself you are treated to a kick up the rear reminiscent of a standstill traffic bump. Perhaps I’m putting too much emphasis on the Sportage’s driving manners, after all, it is extremely well priced and loaded with equipment. The drive isn’t as involving as offerings from other marques, but somehow I don’t think that typical Kia buyers will mind too much. The Sportage is best as a load lugger and mile muncher – that will get you and your passengers, with their luggage, anywhere you are likely to go in comfort.
RIVALS: Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi Premium 4WD, Renault Koleos Dynamique dCi 150 4×4
- Engine: 1991cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 225lb ft at 1,800 – 2,500rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,800kg
- Combined Consumption: 39.8mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 187g/km (F)
- 0-62mph: 12.0secs
- Max speed: 110mph
- Insurance group: 11
Competitively priced, good driving position, lots of kit
Uninvolving to drive, its looks are starting to age