If you want a diesel version of Kia's fourth generation Sportage Crossover model equipped with All-Wheel Drive, then you'll need a 2.0 CRDi variant. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Kia's Sportage offers strong value in the family Crossover segment, especially in this 2.0 CRDi diesel guise which only comes with AWD traction. Add in strong build quality, much improved road manners and enhanced levels of safety and media connectivity and there's plenty to like.
It's easy to believe for a moment that the market for compact SUVs hasn't changed all that much in the last ten years, but it's now radically different and the biggest beneficiary of these changes have been Kia, and more specifically its Sportage. Consider this. Ten years ago, you could pick up a brand new entry level Land Rover Freelander for under £16,000. Even as I'm typing this, I'm double checking to see if that's correct. It is. Nowadays the Freelander's Discovery Sport replacement would set you back over £30,000. That's a massive increase. Yet the Office of National Statistics tells us that the average annual wage over the same period rose by 37%.
What it all means is that a huge amount of buyers are being priced out of the SUV market. That's something that Kia not only recognised, but also put itself in prime position to capitalise on with its impressive fourth generation Sportage. It now gets a smarter look inside and out, greater practicality and a range of technologies to improve comfort, convenience, connectivity and safety. If you're buying a small SUV or a Qashqai-like Crossover model in this segment, it's well worth a look.
On the move, Kia has stiffened the chassis of this fourth generation model, while re-tuning the suspension and redesigning the steering system, all in pursuit of a firmer, sportier, more European-feel at the wheel. If that's what you want, then that's what this Sportage now delivers: just be aware that the experience is very different to what was on offer previously. There's far less change beneath the bonnet, the engine line-up including basically the same options as before, though the units in question have been updated to meet more efficient Euro6 standards.
Diesel drivers wanting all-wheel drive or the option of automatic transmission will need to stretch up to one of the 2.0-litre CRDi models we're looking at here - there's a choice of 134bhp or 182bhp outputs, both only offered with 4x4 traction. Still, the AWD system's worth having, one of those that keeps you front-driven most of the time but, when traction fails, can instantly send up to 40% of torque to the rear axle. There's also a selectable lock mode that'll keep all four wheels turning at equal speed, should you need to extricate your Sportage from somewhere you really shouldn't have ventured in it in the first place.
Design and Build
It's important to Kia that customers like the appearance of this MK4 model Sportage because looks were high on the list of reasons why customers bought the previous generation version. This current design doesn't perhaps quite have the elegance of that car but arguably, a bit more streetside presence has been introduced this time round, particularly at the front end, which seems to remind many of a junior league Porsche Cayenne.
Once behind the wheel, you'll find a driver-centric fascia that's a little more angled towards the driver, with flush-fitting fixtures and trim, soft-to-the-touch materials and smart detailing like the silver trim used around the airvents. It's a big step forward from the cabin of the previous model, which wasn't really able to match the sophistication of the exterior styling. Helping in this regard is a reduction in the number of switches and buttons thanks to the installation of this centre dash infotainment touchscreen, a standard feature providing you avoid entry-level trim.
In the back, the seats are more comfortable this time round. They offer firmer side supports and softer foam, plus here in the rear they recline for greater comfort on longer trips. Out back, if you raise the slightly heavy tailgate, you'll find that boot capacity has risen by 26-litres with this MK4 model - to 491-litres with a temporary spare wheel in place.
Market and Model
Kia's decision to offer AWD traction with pokey 2.0-litre diesel power from as little as around £22,000 creates a proposition most competitors can't match. For that kind of money, the only 4x4 diesel alternatives in this class are Skoda's Yeti and Suzuki's SX-4 S-CROSS, both of which are slightly smaller, less powerful cars. Otherwise, you need to look at a 4WD diesel car in this category being typically priced in the £24,000 to £26,000 bracket. We should mention that there are two 2.0 CRDi models on offer - with either 134bhp or 182bhp. Since the pokier variant comes only with top 'KX4' trim though, most customers will stick with the lower-powered option.
All models come well equipped, with features like 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, powered heated mirrors, cruise control, a DAB radio and front foglights that turn with the bends, all at prices starting at around £18,000 - which seems like a decent deal. Other standard '1'-grade features include LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, tinted glass, an alarm, all-round electric windows, reclining rear seats, a trip computer, leather trim for the gearshifter and the multi-function steering wheel, plus a six-speaker CD audio system with USB and Aux-in ports. Avoid the 1.6-litre petrol engine and you get a temporary spare wheel too.
Cost of Ownership
The 2.0-litre CRDi AWD models match up well when it comes to competitor comparison. The 134bhp version most will choose manages 54.3mpg on the combined cycle and 139g/km of CO2, which matches the kind of return you'd get from an AWD diesel Mazda CX-5 or Ford Kuga and actually betters the figures you'd get from comparable versions of Crossovers like Subaru's XV and Mitsubishi's ASX. Nor is it far away from the kind of class-leading showing you'd get from much pricier AWD diesel versions of cars like Nissan's Qashqai and Renault's Kadjar. Bear in mind though, that if you order your 2.0-litre CRDi Sportage with the six-speed automatic gearbox, the returns takes quite a hit, falling to 47.9mpg and 154g/km. These figures, by the way, are exactly the ones you get from a manual 2.0-litre CRDi model with this engine in its 182bhp state of tune: match that pokier unit with automatic transmission and again, the figures will fall by about 7 or 8%.
Like the rest of the Kia range, the Sportage is sold with the excellent seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. It is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached.
Expectations were high for this fourth generation Sportage - and it satisfies many of them, especially in this 2.0 CRDi guise. It's a product with greater quality that's safer, better equipped, more media-savvy and nicer to drive. Plus, whatever you think of the looks, you have to admit that the car now has a more significant degree of streetside presence.
Of course, there are still boxes left for Kia to tick, but many of them will be when the brand rejuvenates its engine technology. In the meantime, what's on offer here is enough to keep this model competitive in a way that will probably lead to further sales success in this segment.
It's a certainly a confident car, firm in stance, in ride and in the value proposition it offers - exactly in fact, the sort of thing many Qashqai-class buyers will be looking for. Yes, you could pay much more for a Crossover of this kind. But after trying a Sportage, you might well end up questioning the need to. Which says it all really.