KIA'S popular Sportage manages to pull off the neat trick of looking far more expensive than it actually is.
The ‘3' trim grade is a recent addition to the fold - joining the 2 grade, GT-Line and GT-Line S specifications - and it is a treat both inside and out.
The exterior of the £28,555 all-wheel-drive SUV features a distinctive face thanks to a neat grille and smart LED headlights, backed up by black wheel arch body mouldings and silver painted front and rear skid plates plus side sills with a chrome insert.
The 19-inch alloy wheels are stylish and the Sportage's road presence is proven by its top rating on the ‘neighbours coming over to have a look' index.
Access the modern spacious cabin via the ‘smart' entry system and you can't fail to be impressed by the airy atmosphere, comfortable power adjustable front seats and the amount of kit Kia fits.
Lots of light is let in by the panoramic sunroof while two adults are easily catered for in the back where a drop-down centre armrest comes with a handy pair of cupholders. There are also air vent controls allowing those in the back some control over their atmosphere. A third adult can be fitted in when the armrest slots into the rear seatback, but legroom is compromised a tad by the slightly raised transmission tunnel.
The boot is spacious so you can fit in your golf bag and trolley without having to fold any of the seats.
A splendid eight-inch touchscreen and sat nav system takes centre stage on the dashboard. The display sports a natty chrome trim and shape that reminded me of the iconic media centre building at Lord's cricket ground. The technical wizardry to hook your smartphone up to the car is provided.
The automatic dual-zone air conditioning, situated below the touchscreen, controls the temperature and airflow via dials and buttons.
A sense of opulence is added by the heated front and outer rear seats while privacy glass gives a rock-star feel. The driver benefits from cruise control with speed limiter, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic light control, rain-sensing wipers, plus adjustable, electrically folding and heated door mirrors. There is also a reversing camera and parking sensors which, together with steering that's fairly light, makes what is quite a big motor easy to manoeuvre into tight city centre parking spots.
Out on the open road the Sportage offers a comfortable ride thanks to a suspension that soaks up most of the punishment meted out by our poorly maintained highways. There is a decent amount of grip through corners making it pretty nimble for its size while motorway cruising is performed with aplomb.
Three engines are available including the turbocharged 174bhp, 1.6-litre petrol power unit under the bonnet of my test car.
It is no-nonsense beast propelling this SUV from a standing start to 60mph in a shade over nine seconds on the way to a top speed of 126mph. Fuel consumption is around the 30mpg mark with emissions of 201g/km.
With sales in 2019 of 35,000 models in the UK, the Sportage is the Korean car maker's top selling vehicle in Britain.