Road Test: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 2 Eco

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Good to drive, well equipped and keenly priced – there’s little to complain about in the revised Sportage, says Julian Kirk.

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SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £22,300 FUEL: 61.4mpg CO2: 119g/kmYou can’t under-estimate how important the Sportage is to Kia – it accounts for nigh-on a third of its UK sales as the brand continues its inexorable rise.

And you can appreciate why the Sportage does such a great job for the brand – it’s a compact crossover that’s well priced and well equipped, delivering a lot of car to a user-chooser for the same money as a mid-spec regular hatchback.

This facelifted model beings several benefits, although to my eyes it has lost something in the looks department – the sharp, raked-back headlights and grille replaced by a more bulbous, flared nostril appearance. But that’s just a personal thing. What isn’t in doubt are the improvements under the skin, specifically in terms of engine improvements.

The 1.7-litre diesel on test now emits 119g/km in front-wheel drive form, a big leap over the previous generation’s 135g/km. While 119g/km is nowhere near class-leading (sub-100g/km in the case of the Nissan Qashqai diesel), it does make it more competitive against the likes of the Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V. The Sportage now falls into the 23% BIK banding for 2016/17 – equating to a monthly company car tax bill of £85 for a base rate payer.

It’s also nicer to drive, with a more compliant ride and steering which is much more direct than before. Combined with much improved materials in the cabin and it’s not a bad place to be for a long journey – the seats are well bolstered and padded and there’s plenty of room in the back.

Since driving this model, Kia has announced a series of upgrades across the Sportage line-up, with our test ‘2’ model now coming with an upgraded multi-media system offering a number of improvements such as 3D mapping, SD map updates, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Further up the spec tree you can even get a heated steering wheel  and smart park assist.What We Think

Kia has made useful improvements across the Sportage range and this front-wheel drive 1.7 diesel version makes sense for user-choosers. The recent spec uplift makes a good car even better.

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Julian Kirk

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