Long Term Test Report: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 2WD
A recent camping trip to Exmoor saw the Kia shine as ever, but it also left Richard Dredge wondering about the value of some of its features.
Another weekend, another camping trip to the middle of nowhere. This time nowhere in Exmoor, where it’s monsoon season. Expecting to find a camp site surrounded by paddy fields, this June excursion starts out as one of my wettest weekends yet in the Kia, which unsurprisingly proves to be the (almost) perfect companion for a couple of days away.
Driving down a stupidly busy and unpleasantly wet M5 on a Friday afternoon, the Kia’s raised seating position is ideal for getting an early view of all the daft motorists ahead making insane manoeuvres. It makes for a smoother journey as I have plenty of time to ease off the gas, each time in the distance a horde of drivers stand on the brakes to avoid yet another pile up. By the time I get to the M4/M5 interchange everything grinds to a halt. Stuck in barely-moving traffic for miles, the stop/start function comes into play – a system which I’m still not sold on. For the first two months of our Kia’s tenure it was too cold for the stop/start to work, as it’s automatically disabled below two degrees. Even if the ambient temperature is warm enough for stop/start to intervene, the engine is restarted after just a few minutes, presumably to stop the battery going flat. Get caught in traffic and often you’re stationary for just a few seconds; from the figures I’ve seen, if the engine is restarted after less than 10 seconds, it uses more fuel than if it’s run continuously. So while the system is perfectly easy to use and unobtrusive too, I wonder whether it really saves any fuel.
Another feature I’ve never really got is the shift indicator on the dash that tells you which gear you should be in. As somebody who can use a rev counter without the need for further chivvying, things were thrown into sharp relief while driving around Exmoor. On my route was the A39, which takes in the infamous Porlock Hill, as well as a sharp descent into Lynmouth; the steepest bits are one in four, with some sharp bends thrown in for extra fun. When climbing these hills it’s best to use second gear because of the hairpin bends; the Sportage was telling me to move up to fourth. Just going up one gear saw the revs die off, killing the Sportage’s momentum, so to go to fourth would have seen the car stalling. As soon as you’ve got 2,000 revs on the dial, the car tells you to change up, but when you’re tackling such steep inclines, 1500 revs really aren’t enough…
At least the Sportage has plenty of urge to cope with such inclines – as long as you don’t mind using the revs, while the anchors are very reassuring. Where it falls down is on some of the narrow single-track lanes. For a car which isn’t that big, occasionally it feels uncomfortably tight thanks to the overhanging foliage. The most uncomfortable moments though are on the narrow stone bridges; the front wings are so high and the stone walls so low, that it’s tricky placing the car, so there’s always a fear of scraping it.
Such niggles are of no real significance though; it’s easy enough to over-ride the stop/start function, while you can ignore the shift indicator – as I generally do. Threading the car through gaps seemingly too small isn’t always so easy though, if you want to keep the car looking factory-fresh – but it’s certainly not an insurmountable problem. Just follow the locals’ lead, who are happy to drive much larger cars and vans around the same lanes – although judging by the state of much of the bodywork on show, they enjoy regular contact with the scenery, with stoved-in panels and scraped paint seemingly a la mode. They clearly prefer a used look, rather than a factory-fresh one.
Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 SatNav 2WD
|Price when new:||£22,570|
|Price as tested including options:||£22,570|
1685cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
|Power output:||114bhp at 4,000rpm|
|Maximum torque:||188lb ft at 2,000rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||1,200kg|
|Combined fuel consumption:||52.3mpg (official combined)
40.5mpg (on test)
|CO2 Emissions (Taxband):||143g/km (F)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||21%|
|Size (Length/width without mirrors):||4,440/1,855mm|
|Boot space (Minimum/maximum):||564/1,353litres|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||5 stars|
|Date arrived:||2nd December 2010|
|Mileage to date:||12,787miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||Faulty climate control display, replaced by Kia|