Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sportage a Serious SUV

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sportage a Serious SUV

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN CONNOR

ONE bad winter and a sevenyear warranty are just two major factors in ensuring that Kia's latest Sportage SUV will become something of a runaway success.

Indeed, the 850 models making up the UK advance guard have already been sold, with dealers across the country reporting increased interest and growing order lists.

This is not surprising considering that the comprehensively specified First Edition, all-wheel-drive, 2.0-litre CRD manual, costs only pounds 20,777, whilst the automatic version carries an equally competitive price tag of pounds 22,077.

In November the line-up will be expanded to offer an increased range of differing engines and trim levels.

The range is likely to include an entrylevel version 1.6-litre petrol at around pounds 17,000, especially if Kia is seriously going to take-on the likes of Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, VW and Ford, all of whom have similar-sized crossover SUVs.

It does not seem like seven years since I first tested Sportage in the snowbound Swiss Alps when I became enamoured by its handling, four-wheel-drive capability and general build quality.

Over the ensuing years the model has been tweaked here and there, but this completely new-look version is simply light years ahead of the outgoing range.

Its exterior curves are the first to attract attention.

It looks the part. Tough, capable and enduring, yet it does not have that out and out off-road aggressiveness beloved by some other marques.

Its main role after all, is that of a sophisticated road car, with the added bonus of all-wheel drive, and off-road ability on request.

I do not care for the term "soft road" vehicle, but in this instance, it sums up the 2010 First Edition, five-door, five-seater Sportage exactly.

Its road holding is firm, yet not harsh, its cabin is spacious, functional and trendy in design. …

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