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The Warsaw Voice » Society » November 25, 2011
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Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi 184hp 4WD:Third Time Lucky
November 25, 2011   
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The Kia Sportage is one of the most popular SUVs in Poland, so much so that you have to order and wait. And this in the middle of a slump in new car sales.

Kia raised quite a few eyebrows a few years back when they announced that their engines and components would come with a seven-year warranty. Some dismissed it as a marketing ploy; others saw it as a desperate attempt to keep customers interested. This was hardly surprising as the company’s Polish debut in the mid-1990s was still fresh in people’s minds. Models like the Cerato, the Shuma, the Sephia, the Carus and the Sportage did not exactly have anybody floating away, raving about their styling, the quality of their materials, their use of new technology, or the way they were put together.

The Sportage, the company’s SUV offering, was released in 1993 with a second generation coming out in 2004 after an 11-year drought. The price mechanism saw to it that both generations were reasonably successful despite their obvious drawbacks.

The third generation, which hit the dealerships last year, has eliminated the car’s technical and qualitative shortcomings. Kia’s research and development center in Russelsheim, near Frankfurt, Germany, has assumed responsibility for the Sportage’s appearance, and Peter Schreyer, formerly of Audi, is chief designer. The results have surpassed even the most daring expectations. This car sets itself apart from the competition and turns heads in the street. The profile is extremely modern. The Sportage appears to be in motion whether it’s moving or not. The body is attractive and its bulk inspires confidence.

The Sportage can comfortably seat five adults. The trunk is 564l—quite impressive by compact SUV standards. Unfortunately, the loading sill is a tad on the high side. This is because the spare tire is kept under the floor of the trunk.

The dashboard takes after the grille in appearance as does the upper part of the front, and the lower part of the rear, windshield. It is systematically and ergonomically laid out and the materials and fittings of the individual components leave nothing to complain about.

What really comes as a surprise is the car’s convenience and its excellent traction. Handling the Sportage is child’s play, apart from a minor problem with driver visibility to the rear. Good steering, a small turning circle (10.5 m) and a rear view camera makes squeezing into tight parking spaces a breeze. The steering stiffens up at higher speeds to give the drive a good feel for the car. The suspension is comfortable and has fairly sporty settings. This keeps the car steady when changing direction suddenly and there is no tendency for the body to lean over. The model we drove was equipped with a 2l/184hp common rail diesel engine. The car can accelerate to 100 kph in 9.8 s and has a top speed of 195 kph. It therefore has no problems getting around town or cruising along the open road. This 1,600 kg vehicle handles very well and is easy on fuel, provided you go easy on the gas pedal. Average fuel consumption was admittedly 10.4l/100 km during our test drive, but it is just conceivable that we could have achieved something a little nearer the 7.1l/100 km claimed by the manufacturer had we driven more economically or shifted to the “Eco” mode. The electronically controlled 4WD and the rich stock standard fittings are a definite plus of the Sportage.

The third-generation Kia Sportage is a mature and technically thought-through model. The previous generation Sportages were well equipped and competitively priced. The latest Sportage has added what was most lacking: quality, modernity and attractive styling. It is no accident that it has become one of the most popular cars in Poland and that there is a minimum three-month wait for it. It’s a case of third time lucky.

Bartosz Grzybiński
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