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Car reviews - Kia - Sportage - 5-dr wagon


Kia's Sportage is eons ahead of its forebear, but have small SUVs already moved on?

24 Feb 2006

KIA is at it again with the Sportage II, a five-door five-seat sport-utility wagon developed concurrently with the quite-good Hyundai Tucson and sold here at a sharper (driveaway) price (but with a less generous three-year warranty). The great news is that if you’re after a powerful compact SUV and this is all you can afford, then the Sportage doesn’t have the sort of dynamic and quality compromises its rubbishy predecessor did. And the Kia is also well equipped, good-looking and fairly capable on and off road – as long as it's only mud or sand you’ll be surfing on. So no need for apologies any longer - here’s a Kia you would happily steer. To underline that, they should have changed the name.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 April 2005 to 1 August 2007

Previous model

Kia Sportage

Released: December 1996
Ended: June 2004
Family Tree: Sportage

OH dear! Kia may have been on the ball as far as reading the nascent light-SUV market with the original Sportage, but basing it on the hand-me-down mechanicals of the Kia Pride/1991 WA Ford Festiva/1986 Mazda 121 light cars wasn’t going to create a silk purse in anybody’s language. The Sportage was as awful to sit inside as it was to drive, while cornering was the quickest way to induce motion sickness. Noisy and unrefined 2.0-litre twin-cam engines were also there for the asking, tied to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearboxes. At least there was some soft-road ability thanks to a part-time 4WD system and good ground clearance. From 1999 Kia increased the luggage area significantly via a mid-life facelift, but at an embarrassingly obvious aesthetic cost. By then Australians were pretty much over it.

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