Kia Sportage Review

Find out more about the Kia Sportage in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Excellent standard equipment list
  • Practical interior
  • Most models are great value


  • Rivals are more efficient
  • Lack of safety equipment on entry-level trims
  • Not as engaging to drive as the best in its class
Model Review

The Sportage has recently celebrated its 25th birthday since Kia brought the once budget SUV to the UK in 1993.

The first-generation of the Sportage was built in Kia’s infancy, where value for money was everything, although it lagged some way behind rival SUVs. The second-generation model reached showrooms in 2004, and was a step forward for the South Korean manufacturer, if not quite on the money just yet. It was the first Kia to be manufactured in Europe when Sportages started rolling off its Slovakian production plant in 2007, with all European Sportages being built there since.

The third-generation model – on sale in 2010 – can be pinpointed as the turning point for the Sportage, which then saw the firm’s cars suddenly grow to become compelling rivals to mainstream models from Ford and Skoda.

The latest generation of Sportage debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a new look showing Kia’s ‘Tiger-nose’ grille – the same as seen on its other models - as well as a sporty-looking GT Line specification and a range of new engines. The new Sportage borrowed a number of design cues from the Cee’d hatchback at the time

At the start of 2018, Kia celebrated the five millionth global sale of the Sportage, while the model now regularly sneaks into the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK.

Latest model

Kia unveiled the Sportage facelift in May 2018, with a revised look featuring on the updated model.

A range of new wheel designs were offered, as well as new bumpers and adapted front and rear lights. GT-Line models featured a gloss black front grille, while there’s further chrome accents fitted to the car than before, too. This trim also features distinctive and intricate ‘ice cube’ LED front fog lights, too.

Other changes included the addition of a comprehensive range of safety technologies – such as blind spot monitoring, emergency braking and a system that can sense if a driver is tired at the wheel, although sadly this kit is not offered as standard.

The engine line-up was also varied, with the main adjustment being the addition of a new 48V mild-hybrid powertrain with the 2.0-litre diesel engine. The 1.7-litre unit was also replaced by a more efficient 1.6-litre diesel.

Value for money

The Sportage is fantastic value for money, with new prices starting from £20,305. It’s even better value when you consider that it’s more practical than many of its rivals and offers a hugely impressive standard equipment list.

All models come with a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera and cruise control to name but a few features. Our favourite trim is the limited ‘Edition 25’ model celebrating the Sportage’s 25 years, which comes laden with equipment such as adaptive LED headlights, heated seats and a 360-degree around view monitor for an attractive £25,655. That said, the top spec models are on the pricey side, so the Sportage makes far more sense if you go for mid-spec versions.

Prices for early Sportages start from under a £1,000, but our pick would either be a third- or fourth-generation car, with used values for the former starting from £5,500, and the latter from £11,000. If you fancy a pre-facelift model, we recommend a car in ‘3’ spec. A 2016 model with around 40,000 miles on the clock costs from £14,500.

At the time of writing, the facelifted model has only been on sale for a few months, with just a handful of pre-registered models for sale, albeit with a small saving on the list price.

Looks and image

As crossovers go, the Sportage has quite bold styling – particularly at the front. The latest model’s revised bumpers and new front and rear lights have only built on the striking image of its predecessor. If looks are important, though, the models to look for are the top-spec GT-Line versions. These feature gloss black styling details, large 19-inch alloy wheels and quirky ‘ice cube’ fog lights, making them the best-looking models in the range.

The interior isn’t quite as stylish, with the dashboard being quite cluttered looking, while even with its standard seven-inch touchscreen (eight-inch on higher-spec models) it doesn’t look as modern inside as other rivals. That said, build quality is impressive, and shows where Kia has seriously upped its game in recent years. It’s well-built, while all models come with a leather steering wheel and gearstick. Top spec versions also benefit from leather upholstery, electric front seats and a panoramic sunroof, which are all luxurious touches. There are certain plastics which feel a bit low rent, but these are few and far between.

The Sportage is a model that’s tailored more towards comfort than performance, which is a good attribute for a family crossover to have. Cushioned seats, excellent refinement and a fantastic cruising ability are all things the Kia takes in its stride. It also handles well with decent grip levels and less body lean than you might expect from a high-riding car. Sure, rivals such as the Seat Ateca and Mazda CX-5 are far more engaging to drive, but for those wanting a comfortable crossover, the Sportage is a vehicle that’s hard to fault. Our only gripe is with the top-spec models fitted with the large 19-inch alloy wheels, which make the Sportage a bit too firm for our liking.

Video review

Space and practicality

The Sportage can’t offer class-leading levels of practicality – that award goes to the Skoda Karoq – but it’s a good size for a crossover.

The boot offers 491 litres of boot space, which is plenty for family life, and folding the rear seats down increases the room on offer to 1,480 litres. The mild hybrid’s practicality is a bit underwhelming, with the extra battery taking a chunk out of the boot – leaving 439 litres to play with.

The long wheelbase provides plenty of rear seat space, as three adults should be able to sit comfortably in the back. Models fitted with the panoramic roof (standard on ‘4’ and ‘GT Line S’ models) will have less headroom than those without it, which is something to consider if you regularly carry adults. There’s no shortage of interior storage spaces either.

The facelifted Sportage has not been tested by Euro NCAP yet, although the 2015 model scored a five star safety rating, with impressive marks for its adult and child occupancy safety ratings. That said, safety has moved on since then and while the Sportage is available with a number of safety aids, it’s disappointing that these are not offered as standard. Models from ‘2’ upwards come with lane-keep assist, high beam assist and a speed warning, but it’s only once you get to the Edition 25 models that autonomous emergency braking is fitted – something that all models should now have. These edition models also come with an impressive 360-degree around-view monitor and blind-spot warning, too.


A good range of both petrol and diesel engines are available on the Sportage.

On the petrol front, there’s the choice of a naturally-aspirated 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, or a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit producing 174bhp. The former is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox and the latter a manual or seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive only. The 174bhp petrol unit is the quickest engine in the range, with a top speed of 127mph and a 0-60mph time of 8.8 seconds.

Three diesel powertrains are offered. The first is a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, which produces either 114bhp or 134bhp. The lower-powered unit is paired to a manual gearbox only, while the latter has the option of both automatic and manual transmissions. The range-topping engine is the aforementioned 2.0-litre CRDI engine with mild-hybrid setup, which comes with a 48V battery, and produces 182bhp.

Running costs

Despite largely being fitted with small engines, the Sportage is not quite as efficient as some of its rivals. The diesel engines are unsurprisingly the cleanest – particularly the 1.6-litre diesel unit, which returns up to 57.6mpg in its most efficient guise, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km. The mild-hybrid, even with its additional battery, is not quite as good on fuel as you might anticipate, with CO2 emissions of 152g/km and a claimed economy figure of 48.7mpg. Both petrol engines are on the thirsty side, particularly the more powerful 174bhp unit which returns just 36.7mpg, and emissions of 179g/km.

Insurance groups range between 13 and 25 depending on which you version you decide to go for, which is comparable to its key rivals.

Things to look for

Kia puts a lot of faith in its models with its leading seven-year warranty, and for good reason, as its cars have a fantastic reliability record. Reported issues have been with isolated models and are not widespread issues. There’s been a couple of owners who have reported a loss of power with the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but that’s the only tiny gremlin the Sportage has suffered.


The crossover class is a hugely lucrative market for manufacturers, and one that has grown considerably in recent years. This means that the Sportage is not short of rivals, with the best-selling Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson and Ford Kuga being the nearest competitors. Other rivals include the Peugeot 3008, Renault Kadjar, Seat Ateca, Vauxhall Grandland X and Skoda Karoq to name but a few.


Demand for the Sportage has kept used values up, although that’s not to say there aren’t savings to be had. With 2016 Sportages costing from £11,000 and a few thousand pounds available off nearly-new models, it’s a car we definitely recommend on the used market.

Trims explained

Five trim levels are offered on the Sportage – including ‘1', ‘2’, Edition 25, ‘4’, GT-Line and GT-Line S.


The entry level '1' comes with an impressive list of standard equipment including 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, air-conditioning, front fog lights, a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, DAB radio and smartphone connectivity. You also get cruise control, a reversing camera, electric windows and a leather steering wheel and gearstick.

The ‘1’ costs from £20,305


Upgrade to ‘2’ and you get some more luxuries such as satellite navigation, heated front seats electric lumbar support for the front seats, dual-zone climate control and access to Kia’s online connected services. It also comes with 17-inch alloy, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and a host of safety equipment, such as driver attention alert, lane-keep assist, high-beam assist and a speed warning.

The '2' starts from £22,405

Edition 25

Edition 25 models are the pick of the range, although they are only offered with the entry-level petrol engine. They come laden with equipment such as adaptive LED headlights and LED rear lights, electric front seats, a JBL sound system, heated rear seats and a free upgrade to a premium paint finish. It also gets a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and start, a larger eight-inch touchscreen, and further safety kit in the form of autonomous emergency braking, a 360-degree around view monitor and blind spot monitoring.

Edition 25 is priced from £25,655


Up next is ‘4’ trim, which adds luxuries such as black leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels and LED interior lights.

Priced from £27,260.

GT Line

Sporty-looking GT-Line jumps back in terms of standard equipment, so the extra features it comes with here are in addition to the ‘2’. It adds GT-Line specific 19-inch alloys, gloss black styling cues, a dual-exit exhaust, front parking sensors, keyless entry and start and black leather upholstery with red stitching and piping. It also comes with a suite of LED lights – including headlights, rear lights and fog lights - as well as heated front seats and a sports steering wheel.

GT Line starts at £25,510

GT Line Sport

Range-topping GT-Line S comes with just about all the kit you could ever think of. It adds goodies such as a panoramic sunroof, front electric seats which are also ventilated, a heated steering wheel and LED interior lighting. It also comes with a JBL sound system, a larger eight-inch touchscreen, an electric boot, wireless phone charging and safety features such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot warning and a 360-degree around view monitor.

Prices start from a steep £31,645


  1. Largely great value for money
  2. Plenty of standard equipment
  3. Fantastic seven-year warranty
  4. Good range of trim levels and engines available
  5. Thirsty petrol engines
  6. Very comfortable
  7. Rivals offer a more dynamic driving experience
  8. Good-sized boot, minus the mild-hybrid
  9. Stylish looks
  10. A best-selling model for good reason!

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