Kia Sportage 1.6

T-GDi GT-Line S HEV

AWD

Kia Sportage, 2022, front
Kia Sportage, 2022, side
Kia Sportage, 2022, rear
Kia Sportage, 2022, interior
Kia Sportage, 2022, display screen, reversing camera
Kia Sportage, 2022, boot

THERE are lots of positives about driving in France - the largely unpopulated highways and excellent toll roads being just two - but by far the biggest bonus is the absence of potholes.

Ducking and diving along the rutted highways of Blighty, the excellent suspension on the latest Kia Sportage was given a thorough workout by the frankly disgraceful surfaces now masquerading as our main roads.

Cross the English Channel and it's not only yours truly that had a break - the smooth surfaces of even the French equivalent of B-roads mean the Sportage had far less to do to guarantee a comfortable ride for its occupants.

The model has achieved the accolade of being Kia's top seller in Britain with almost a third of a million being purchased since it arrived back in 1995.

Designed for Europe, as well as being built in Slovakia, the fifth generation of Kia's popular SUV really hits the spot inside and out.

The exterior grabs your immediate attention with a tidy version of Kia's ‘Tiger Nose' grille bordered by eye-catching boomerang-shaped LED lamps while the rear sports tail lights are set high with a light strip across the top.

The powered boot on the flagship GT-Line S model opens smoothly - providing a conversation topic for everyone who sees you push the button. It is easy to load with 587 litres on offer for luggage or shopping - or in the case of my French trip, both. Dispense with passengers and you'll get 1,780 litres of goodies into the Sportage as the rear seats split and fold.

The spacious cabin is well designed and includes all mod cons including a flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel with controls for most of the things a driver desires like the radio and cruise control.

Quality materials are used throughout while the fit and finish is spot on.

But the stars of the show are the panoramic screens that run virtually the entire length of the dashboard and seem to merge into each other in a tour de force that can't fail to impress.

The display in front of the driver offers a digital layout with all the info you could wish for while the touchscreen next to it gives access to an easy to use infotainment system and sat nav.

The dual-zone climate control sits below while between the driver and front seat passenger resides the rotary automatic gear selector which is set behind a wireless phone charger.

There are two cup holders up front and an armrest which provides the cover for a storage box to keep your more valuable nik-naks away from prying eyes.

Other neat features include headrests that can be used as coat hangers and USB sockets on the back of the front seats. An automatic parking brake takes a bit of getting used to but is a handy addition when driving in town, while a hi-tech camera display covers the driver's blind spot when the indicators are used.

The full hybrid model features a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that together provide plenty of get up and go with 60mph reached from a standing start in eight seconds on the way to a claimed top speed of 120mph.

The full hybrid is able to run purely on its electric motor for short distances and is always keen to minimise fuel use. In a week of mixed motoring the best I achieved was 45mpg in ‘Eco' mode. There is also a ‘Sport' option when you're feeling flush.

The four-wheel drive system offers plenty of grip and the ability to handle a variety of terrains and conditions.

FAST FACTS

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line S HEV AWD

Price:£41,000

Mechanical:226bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric power pack driving all wheels via 6spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed:120mph

0-62mph:8 seconds

Combined MPG:44.1

Insurance Group:25

C02 emissions:146g/km

Bik rating:34%

Warranty:7yrs/100,000 miles

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