Kia Sportage 1.6

T-GDi ‘2'

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2'
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2', front
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2', side
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2', rear
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2', tailgate
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi '2', interior

THE landmark figure announced last month of 100,000 Kia sales in a single year can be attributed to the strength of the Korean car company's strength in depth, rather than any one model.

But there's no doubt the brand's global top seller, the Sportage, has played no small mark in that all-time high.

Considering Kia only started trading in the UK in 1991, with the little Pride supermini, the Sportage has been around for all bar the first four of that 22-year stretch.

Despite becoming an evergreen model range, the mid-size SUV has never been more desirable - combining a mix of practicality, comfort and dynamics with an increasingly premium finish.

Now available in 14 variants with a choice of six powertrains including petrol, diesel, mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug-in hybrid and four model grades, this fifth generation Sportage is the first to be specifically designed and developed for Europe.

Our tested model, in entry grade ‘2' spec, featured the brand's 1.6-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol unit and came substantially kitted out for a base level car costing £27,800.

This is a smart-looking car, more premium than ever and heralding an interior ingeniously designed so that the controls can be easily accessed.

Longer, wider and marginally taller than its predecessor, the Sportage not only boasts better head and legroom for passengers but also greater carrying capacity.

There's up to 591 litres of luggage space on offer with all the seats in position and a maximum boot capacity of 1,780 litres with the rear seats folded down.

While entry level cars have to make do with an eight-inch infotainment screen, all other versions get a smart curved display featuring twin 12.3-inch HD screens, though the instrument cluster in front of the driver uses liquid crystal technology for more precise graphics on all models.

The use of higher quality materials also becomes apparent from the moment you step into the Sportage. Yes, there are still one or two plasticky areas, particularly around the fascia, but the feel and durability of the seats, switches and stowage areas is enviable.

Plenty of space up front makes for a bright, airy cabin and there's room for three across the back without a centre rear passenger needing to feel squeezed, and when more capacity is needed for shifting loads the 40:20:40 split rear seats fold down easily by tugging on a lever.

And in an effort to keep things practical there are some simple but useful features - like the way the cup holders in the centre console rotate out and can be pushed out of the way when not in use. There are also hangers in the rear headrests for jackets or bags.

Tech, meanwhile, sees the likes of LED headlamps and running lights, collision avoidance, 12v power sockets and parking sensors as standard plus smart cruise control, blind spot assist, navigation and leather upholstery on higher spec models.

There's also Android Auto/Apple CarPlay plus Bluetooth with music streaming and a USB port.

Our tested model was the 1.6-litre petrol six-speed manual version with front-wheel drive and over 300 miles of mixed urban, rural road and motorway driving we returned an average 36.0 miles per gallon - short of the official 42.2mpg figure but certainly reasonable.

FAST FACTS

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi ‘2'

Price:£27,800

Mechanical:148bhp, 1,598cc 4-cyl turbocharged petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual transmission

Max Speed:113mph

0-62mph:9.9 secs

Combined MPG:42.2 Combined

Insurance Group:25

C02 emissions:152g/km

Bik rating:35%

Warranty:7yrs/100,000 miles

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