A Sportage chance
Posted on: 4th Jul 2012
There’s a lot to be said for the Kia Sportage. In offering the cheapest compact 4x4, Kia would appear to have cornered the market amongst budget buyers and the Sportage is a very decent car. Unfortunately, this is a market that’s notoriously badge conscious and, as Kia discovered, many customers would much rather drive a three year old Freelander than a brand spanking new Sportage.
If however you’re not too worried about your golf club kudos points, a used Sportage makes a very canny buy.
We were given a quick sneak preview of what to expect from the Kia Sportage when sister company Hyundai brought their version of the vehicle, the Tucson, to market a few months earlier. While being the cheapest is often advantageous, there aren’t often too many prizes for being second cheapest and the Tucson has struggled.
The Sportage has fared a little better, and if you shop around you should be able to find the car in the specification and colour of your choice. What hasn’t helped the Sportage is the fact that its predecessor was so underwhelming. Perhaps Kia should have completely rebranded what is a very capable little car.
What You Get
The underpinnings of the Sportage are the same as those of Hyundais Tucson 4x4, so with two companies to share the development costs, you’d expect a fairly decent result: so it has proved.
The MK2 Sportage set out to be a lot more user-friendly, adopting a few MPV-style practicality features. The rear seat cushion and the backrest are a case in point, adopting Kia's Fold and Dive system. Whilst it may sound like a tactic taught by Argentinean football coaches, it is in fact a method of creating a spacious, square-sided and completely flat cargo area.
The exterior styling is neat without offering too much in the way of signature detail. The chunky wheelarches give the car a rather over-inflated look but the overall effect is not unpleasant.
What You Pay
Kia buyers tend to be very clever with their money and Sportage customers are no exception. They will have done the mathematics and figured out that the diesel model is only really worth buying if you plan to rack up serious mileages so those that drink from the black pump will often have bigger numbers on the odometer than the 2.0-litre petrol or the very rare 2.7-litre V6. A typical opening price for a 2.0-litre CRDi XE on a 2005 05 plate will be around £6,175. £5,200 will net you a decent 2.7-litre V6 XS of the same vintage.
What to Look For
When buying inspect the underside for evidence of enthusiastic off-roading. The tyres should betray no symptoms of wonky tracking and the wheel arch liners and exhausts should be in tiptop condition. The interiors don't wear as well as some rivals but other than that, you should be able to buy with confidence.
(Approx - based on a Sportage 2.7 XS) Consumables for the Sportage are reasonably priced, an air filter retailing at around £11, a fuel filter costing around £21 and an oil filter £7.50. Spark plugs are £3 each and a new cam belt adds up to approximately £60.
On the Road
The 2.0-litre petrol engine represents a first step into Sportage ownership but used buyers would do better to stump up the extra for the diesel. A combined fuel economy figure nudging 40mpg is very respectable going for such a spacious vehicle and even around town the Sportage CRDi will see over 30mpg. The diesel is moderately capable off road, although anything too arduous will betray its comparative lack of wheel articulation.
We like Kia Sportage owners. They tend not to give two hoots about what people think of the badge on their bonnet and instead buy the car for what it can do rather than what it purports to represent. A used Sportage is an excellent way of getting a thoroughly modern compact 4x4 for less than the price of a rather tatty used Freelander. Its worth saving up a few extra pounds and going for the diesel, if only for the additional torque and easier driving style. Look out for cars that have been driven enthusiastically off road but otherwise buy with confidence.