By Mike Torpey on 2017-07-23 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Kia Sportage 1.6
WHILE cheap and cheerful may once have been the watchword for Korean brand Kia, these days the name of the game is quality.
And in few products is that philosophy more apparent than in the latest generation Sportage crossover, the top selling vehicle in Kia's burgeoning line-up.
There's a balancing act to perform of course, because as quality rises so too do prices - to the point that the flagship Sportage model now edges over the Â£32,000 mark.
So value for money needs to be guaranteed and to that end there's plenty to ensure customers get sufficient punch for the pound.
The latest Sportage range comprises four engines with five power outputs, three transmissions and six trim lines, plus two or four-wheel drive and six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions.
New to the scene is also a more sporty focused GT-Line grade, recognised through its high gloss black mesh grille, twin tailpipes, 19-inch alloys and silver skid plates.
This tested variant is the only one to feature a new turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine - and a sweet, efficient unit it is too.
Opting for this trim also brings in all-wheel drive and a select-lock mode, giving a 50-50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph.
The system is linked to an advanced traction cornering control set-up which monitors road speed, throttle input and steering angle and distributes torque between the left and right wheels to boost stability through corners.
And caravanners can rest safe in the knowledge that every car has a system for preventing a caravan or trailer from snaking in crosswinds or if pulled at too high a speed.
With several other safety and stability systems included - hill start assist and a roll-over sensor to name but two - the Sportage has become every inch the sophisticated SUV.
It is also longer than before with rear seats that fold almost completely flat and a touch more head and leg room all round. You also get a bigger boot.
Move inside and in an effort to ensure comfort for all journeys, Kia's development team focused on something called pad density for the seats at the same time as making them better at absorbing vibrations.
Even entry grade ‘1' from Â£18,795 comes well equipped with the likes of LED daytime running lights, cornering lights, electric windows, air-con, hill start, cruise control and DAB radio with Bluetooth as standard as well as being supported by Kia's seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty.
The more dynamic GT-Line sits between the 2 and 3 levels and includes an interior styling pack of black leather upholstery, a high gloss centre fascia, black headliner, stainless steel scuff plates and a D-shaped leather steering wheel.
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line
Mechanical: 174bhp, 1,591cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 37.2
Insurance Group: 177g/km
C02 emissions: 34%
Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles
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