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Kia Sportage diesel a worthy SUV contender. Image by Kia.

Kia Sportage diesel a worthy SUV contender
The Kia Sportage badge has been in Britain for the past 10 years. The current model offers three engines (2-litre petrol, 2-litre diesel and 2.7-litre V6 petrol) and two trim levels (XE and XS). Here we test the 2-litre diesel.

   



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The Kia Sportage badge has been in Britain for the past 10 years. The current model offers three engines (2-litre petrol, 2-litre diesel and 2.7-litre V6 petrol) and two trim levels (XE and XS). Here we test the 2-litre diesel in XS trim.

We've had a lot of small SUV-type vehicles pass through our hands in recent months, most regarded as competition for the Sportage. Closest in size was the Nissan X-Trail; the Kia is a fraction shorter in length, but has a 5mm longer wheelbase.

Our Kia Sportage came in 'Blue Crystal' and looked simply stunning, the colour further offset by the privacy glass rear of the front doors and the chunky standard-fit 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, things are just as good; black leather seats are part of the XS trim level and the general interior design looks modern and stylish, certainly given the low purchase price.

The 2-litre diesel engine develops a very competitive 138bhp at 4000rpm (2bhp more than the Nissan X-Trail for example), and 225lb.ft of torque from 1800 - 2500rpm. In practice, I didn't ever feel the Kia Sportage was underpowered. It's not as quick as the diesel Nissan X-Trail, and loses out on towing capacity to that vehicle, but the Kia still feels quicker than a 0-62mph time of 13.8 seconds suggests. With peak power being developed at a relatively low 4000rpm, I was expecting this to be an old school diesel: gruff, noisy, and sluggish. I was wrong; this engine is smooth, fairly quiet in diesel SUV terms, and responsive once 1400rpm had been reached. Sometimes round town, when slowly turning into side streets it was better to use second gear rather than third, as you would normally expect diesel engined vehicles to cope with, but that was the only time the Kia ever felt slow and that could be as much due to the car's gearing.

Driving on the motorway proved that aerodynamically the Kia Sportage must have an advantage over its competitors. While not testing its claimed 104mph top speed, I can say that wind noise at more usual motorway speeds barely registered at all. This made the Kia Sportage one of the more relaxing SUVs in which to travel any distance. Away from the motorway, the six-speed gearbox provided as many gears as anyone could ever need, with an excellent quality gearchange. The first two gears are quite low ratios to aid good step away, with sixth gear being set high enough to give relaxed cruising, but not so high that you would need to change down every time the traffic slowed a little. With little road noise being transmitted to the passenger compartment, it was possible to cruise on motorways with a lower stereo volume setting than is usual in this type of vehicle.

In common with the Kia Sorento I drove a couple of years ago, the Kia Sportage encourages the driver to press on cross country; surprisingly decent A and B-road progress can be made. The typical SUV high driving position confers much better visibility than is found by car drivers, aiding progress and increasing safety.

The Sportage's four-wheel drive system is fully automatic; usually the Kia Sportage drives in front-wheel drive mode, but if a loss of grip is sensed then up to 50% of the drive is automatically channelled to the rear wheels. If the driver wishes, then four-wheel drive can be manually switched in at speeds below 19mph, but by 25mph the Kia Sportage is fully automatic again. Being mostly front-wheel drive, Kia claims improves fuel economy. Certainly the combined figure of 39.8mpg is easily achievable; in our time with the Kia Sportage, we averaged over 40mpg.

Handling of the Kia Sportage was typical of the modern compact SUV: decent grip accompanied by a bit of roll before understeer set in, but at a much higher speed than was typical of SUVs just a few years ago. Ride quality is very good.

In typical Kia fashion, the Sportage represents excellent value for money. This model costs 18,195 on-the-road, but comes specified as standard with a leather interior, privacy glass, alloy wheels, a double-opening tailgate (the window glass can be opened separately), heated seats, climate control, an electric tilt/slide sunroof, heated door mirrors and even a digital compass built into the self-darkening rear view mirror.

Inside, the Kia Sportage can rival the smaller five-seat MPVs with its versatility. The rear seat is split 60/40 as is the norm, but folds into the rear footwell area too providing a totally flat luggage area when required. There is storage everywhere, including a sliding tray beneath the front passenger's seat, bottle holders in all four door pockets, and a sunglasses holder. The spare wheel is located under the boot floor. This is both more secure than attaching to the tailgate and also it allows the window glass to be opened separately from the tailgate to load in smaller items. That pretty much sums up the rest of the car; a sensible and well thought out addition to the compact SUV ranks.
Kia Sportage UK range overview
- Kia Sportage 2.0 XE : 15,295
- Kia Sportage 2.0 XS : 16,995
- Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi XE : 16,495
- Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi XS : 18,195
- Kia Sportage 2.7 V6 XS Auto : 19,295

Trevor Nicosia - 28 Apr 2006



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2006 Kia Sportage specifications: (2.0 CRDi XS)
Price: 18,195 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 13.8 seconds
Top speed: 104mph
Combined economy: 39.8mpg
Emissions: 187g/km
Kerb weight: 1758kg

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.



2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Kia Sportage. Image by Kia.
 






 

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