The KIA Sportage is a compact crossover SUV first released in 1993. There are three generations of Sportages already, with the first one running until 2004, the second one until 2010, and the third one currently still in production. Since the first-generation Sportage was developed using a Mazda Bongo platform as engineering base, it shared many similarities with the Mazda’s own lineup. This was a result of a partnership involving Ford, Mazda, and KIA, where Ford and Mazda were in charge of technology while KIA managed actual manufacturing facilities. By 2012, more than 387,000 KIA Sportage units have been sold around the world.
If you trace the roots of the Kia Sportage, you’ll definitely see its leanings towards being an SUV. In fact, it’s got so much SUV in it that you’ll wonder how to pinpoint where the vehicle defines being a “crossover” model. And aside from being a compact soft-roader with a good price, the Sportage also boasts of stylishness that puts it at par with the looks of the Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Yeti, and the Nissan Qashqai. There are also petrol and diesel engine options available to provide interested parties with flexibility to address whatever needs they might have.
In terms of design, the Sportage features a bold look that will sit well with many buyers. But what Kia was most successful with though was in erasing memories of previous models. Doing so allowed Kia to come up with a vehicle that isn’t exactly all-new but looks nothing like its older brothers. Lower ground clearance is one of the most appreciated update too because it makes getting in and out of the car so much easier.
Even at base spec, the Sportage is nicely equipped. All come with alloy wheels, electric windows, climate control, leather-covered gearlever knob and steering wheel (steering wheel is also multi-function), automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers, cornering lights, front fog lights, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, and cruise control.
Automatic transmission is not available on all engine options. You can only take advantage of an automatic gearbox if you opt for a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engine. Additionally, only 2.0-litre units are fitted with four-wheel drive systems. It’s not much of an issue really but you’d have to head straight for a 2.0-litre unit if you want these features.
When the concept car Kee came out in 2007, Kia took inspiration from it and it showed in the Sportage, creating a sharp headlight design that really gives it a big SUV look. However, the Sportage was not as successful in terms of appearance when it comes to the rear of the vehicle. Some of the driver’s rear visibility is even reduced no thanks to the high-set, narrow, raked-back screen at the back.
The Sportage features split-folding seats at the back which allows it to conveniently boost boot space. The seats don’t slide individually though, a feature that some Sportage rivals have and something some families may be looking for.
The Sportage also falls behind in terms of ride and handling, with other compact soft-roaders performing better. However, many will still favor it because it is comfortable and safe enough and is capable of managing what is expected out of it with ease.
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