Kia on a charge

Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, front
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, front, action
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, side
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, rear
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, interior
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, rear seats
Kia Sportage GT-Line, 2016, boot

IN this world where so many people would like a crossover, the majority of sales have diesel engines.

But, if you're a private buyer, the petrol models are a good deal cheaper and with that, plus more expensive pump pricesl, the diesels can take a long time just to break even.

Diesels are also now being seen as major polluters, so governments are beginning to penalise them and some cities are even talking about bringing in bans for older vehicles.

I recently drove the Kia Sportage 1.6 turbo petrol, with all wheel drive (AWD) and no less than 174bhp under the right foot.

As with all other small and medium crossovers, many models in the range are front wheel drive and offer nothing much more than a car when it comes to ice and snow or the rough stuff.

But checking out the petrol two-wheel-drive (2WD) models against this one, there is very little to choose between them when it comes to economy.

And it takes 34,000 miles for the equivalent diesel Sportage to break even with this very good petrol engine.

The Sportage drives very smoothly and the engine is refined and quiet all the way thought its rev range, pulling well from low speeds in higher gears very like a diesel.

Performance is decently quick when required, with plenty of urge for lane changing or overtaking, and the slick six-speed gearbox is a joy to use.

Sadly I did not get the chance to put it through any off-road work, but the four-wheel-drive system comes with a lockable centre differential for maximum traction when the going gets sticky and hill descent control for steep downhill safety.

With an official economy average of 37mpg, I was pleased to get 33 over varied driving, which is not too bad.

Major chassis revisions for this model and a new steering system have helped towards an excellent combination of ride comfort and cornering ability.

It's very stable and safe through the twisty bits, with good steering feedback, decent balance and very good grip.

And the comfort remains excellent over town and country roads.

As is usual with Kia, the level of equipment is excellent across the range offering good value for money.

And of course, all models come with that best-you-can-get seven year, or 100,000 mile transferable warranty.

In fact, if you buy a secondhand Kia up to 18 months old, the seven years is renewed.

Equipment in this GT-Line includes sat nav and stereo controlled from a six inch touch screen, climate, usb and aux, keyless entry and starting, remote stereo, cruise and phone controls on the steering wheel, auto folding heated mirrors, lane departure warning, stability control, and parking sensors.

FAST FACTS

Price: £25,050

Mechanical: 174bhp, 1,591cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 9.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 37

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 177g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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