Long term test report: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 2WD
After almost a year with the Sportage, his time with it has come to an end. But Richard Dredge is not Sportage-less just yet, as the front-wheel-drive car is being swapped for an all-wheel-drive edition for a few weeks.
After my last report, in which I pointed out that the Sportage’s factory-fitted satellite navigation could be better, it really disgraced itself this month. On a walking weekend in Derbyshire, it failed to recognise most of the destinations I needed to get to, including a friend’s address in Buxworth. Instead of just plugging in my TomTom, I resorted to setting the nav for the village centre and trying to find my own way. What I didn’t know was that my friend lives on the approach, so I drove straight past his close, only to pick up some debris in the road in the centre of Buxworth, destroying one of the rear tyres in the process.
At this point I was seriously annoyed that I’d wrecked the tyre when I didn’t even need to be there, but the Kia redeemed itself by having a full-sized spare on board – and it wasn’t even a cheap steel item, but the proper 18-inch alloy rim. Most of the Sportage’s rivals offer just a can of goo, never mind a space saver, so in the end the Kia came up trumps, despite its satellite navigation having failed me.
Still, it’s all history now, as the car will have gone back to Kia by the time you read this. But before it went, we reached 20,000 miles with it, which meant a service was required. We booked it in to Edwards Kia near Worcester, and the quote of £161 was a pleasant surprise, as it was almost £20 less than the 10,000-mile service I paid for on a Kia Rio four years ago. Unsurprisingly, the service went without a hitch. The front tyres still have five millimetres of tread left on them and the rears are sitting at six millimetres. Bearing in mind they start with only eight millimetres, after 20,000 miles I thought that was pretty impressive, although the fact that the Kia did so many motorway miles had quite a lot to do with it.
With the Sportage on the ramps, I took the chance to have a chat with salesman Steve Newman, who told me what a success the Sportage has been for Kia. Too much of a success in fact, because he’s missed out on sales due to a lack of supply. While the two-wheel drive editions are fairly readily available, anyone wanting four-wheel drive might struggle to get what they want, because Kia can’t build enough 2.0-litre diesel engines to satisfy demand. It’s the Sportage’s great looks and seven-year warranty that have had potential buyers flocking to the showroom. Those happy to settle for a front-wheel drive car have generally bought one and been very happy, although the small boot and the fact that the back seats don’t fold flat have proved too much of a hurdle for some. Neither of those things have proved an issue for us, however.
While talking to Steve I took the opportunity to ask what he’d bid for our test car, if he had the option to buy it. With no Glass’s Guide listing and no other cars available with such a high mileage as ours, Steve could only guess, but he reckoned on offering us £15,000, on the basis that it would go on the forecourt at £17,000. The leggiest Sportage on his system was a 10,000-mile car, which was the same spec as ours; its asking price was £19,500.
But with the Sportage soon departing, it’s not quite over yet, as for the last few weeks of our 12-month term we’re running a 2.0-litre all-wheel drive edition for comparison. It’ll be interesting to see what the performance and fuel economy are like, although it’ll be a pain if the car proves to be even more impressive than the front-wheel drive edition we’ve come to like so much. Kia salesmen nationwide are already having to divert buyers from all-wheel-drive into front-wheel drive editions, and we at Diesel Car wouldn’t want to make their lives any harder.