Thursday – Versatile Family Mover

cropped-381531_k_2245.jpgSeems strange swapping a Kia for an Aston Martin but they’ve both been on the driveway at Car Couture today. Suffice to say that returning a creditable 39mpg during the week, the Sportage is slightly more economical.

And it’s also a very good family car, if you are in the market for a roomy estate with the added benefit of four-wheel drive. We found a large boot, with easy drop backseats meant the Kia was remarkably versatile.

In the rear, there is a generous amount of leg room, which compares well to rivals like the bug-eyed Nissan Qashqai and the popular Ford Kuga.

Some of the interior trim in the Kia is less than special but this is an awful lot of car for the money. Avoid the petrol versions and go for a 2.0-litre diesel – it has all the power you will need for everyday motoring.

 

 

Wednesday – Kia Orange

cropped-381538_k_2246.jpg

Probably not something my late father would want me to admit to but he was surely the first person in our town to own an orange car. A very vivid, orange Datsun that turned heads for all the wrong reasons.

And when I passed my test at 17, I ended up buying it from him and using the orange-mobile to get to college. It was very economical, had a radio-cassette (classy) and was probably the perfect car for a young driver.

Except I wanted something that turned heads for the right reason and swapped it for a rust bucket Alfa Romeo in red, naturally. I mention this story because Kia has somehow managed to  make orange cool again with our Sportage.

I know Clarkson had a rant recently about the ‘boring car colours’ offered by car manufacturers these days. The Kia SUV bucks that trend and might even persuade you to think orange again too.

Monday – What Does It All Mean!?

cropped-381552_k_2258.jpg

ESC, DBC, HAC, LCD…. The Sportage has the lot but what do they all mean? I think I’m going to let you Google them to find out, although it would be a lot more fun if Kia displayed each on the boot after the name badge.

The most useful, although certainly not the most frequently needed, is HAC or Hill-start Assist Control, with the additional bonus of a Roll-Over Sensor. Presumably it lets you know when the Kia is upside-down. Can’t you just look out the window?

These days, the LCD daytime running lights are probably going to be more of a selling point. Perhaps that says a lot more about why we buy SUVs in 2014 than any feature to do with off-roading.

DBC? That’s the electronic system that works with HAC to maintain a speed of 5pm when descending a steep slope.

So there you have it, everything you need to impress your petrolhead buddies at the Christmas party. TTFN.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday – 7-Year Itch

cropped-381518_k_2241.jpg

I wonder what I’ll be doing in seven years, or 100,000 miles time? I’m not entirely sure how manufacturers work out a warranty period but Kia and parent company Hyundai offer such a lengthy deal on all their new cars.

It’s easier for me to imagine seven years than 100,000 miles. I have friends who clock up 30,000 miles a year but despite a love of interesting vehicles, the thought of sitting in a driver’s seat for that long every 12 months is bum-achingly painful.

It would take me six years to hit the ton, therefore Kia must regard me as almost average when it comes to annual miles. So perhaps this is a good moment to point out that the Sportage wouldn’t be my first choice of companion.

I love the way it looks and funky colour but the ride is rather bumpy. The Kia is not blessed with refinement or strong handling either. I imagine the Sportage is due a mid-life re-vamp in 2015. I say leave the styling as it is and concentrate on the suspension…

Saturday – SUV With Attitude

cropped-381501_k_2240.jpg

Apparently, I’m young at heart. Well, according to Kia who designed the latest Sportage for people like me, who want to drive a compact SUV that looks that little bit different.

It has an understated ‘attitude’ which is urban-centric and aerodynamically pleasing to the eye. The Sportage is also the first Kia that I have actually wanted to drive, as well as launching a new design era for the brand.

If you can remember the nondescript former model, this one is light years ahead. It looks more sleek, athletic and is topped off at the front with the ‘tiger nose’ grille that is designer Peter Schreyer‘s trademark.

And it’s also good to be driving  a vehicle that isn’t a bland colour! The one parked outside today is sunburst orange. Normally I’d run a mile but on the Kia, it sort of works…

 

 

Monday – Whippets on Board

ki

Jessica   This car is a winner, there are no frills and somehow it does not feel like a massive compromise and purely on aesthetic value this car stands up against the 4wD 7 seater competition. The comparison would be buying a coat in Primark which becomes a wardrobe staple and when you admit to admiring friends where you bought it they all express shock and stop to consider the vast amounts they have spent on lesser coats of their own. It does make you reflect on perceived  value and actual value.

That said the gear box is positively old school and there is some difficulty finding first gear at a junction.  The steering is a little loose and the dash board trim only just misses being tasteless with its wood look finish(although luckily in black).

The car was fully utilised this weekend with 6 people and a brace of whippets on a Bank Holiday outing to the nail biting last day of the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials where the passengers reported the back seats have good leg room but the centre seats are better suited to smaller occupants ( should have put the whippets there!).  The Kia looked the part alongside other county vehicles in the vast rows of the car park and did not make us feel we had to slink away from it in embarrassment.  Overall it is a solid car with an outstanding warranty which the Badminton testers agreed would make a suitable family (with pets) car without breaking the bank or screaming we have a cheap car because we have to!

Saturday – Badminton in the Wind

kia1

Jeremy There’s a crazy wind blowing across the Cotswolds today. The Sorento is a seriously large vehicle but it has coped well at high speeds in a crosswind and there’s limited tyres noise in the cabin.

The roads around Tetbury are packed with 4x4s because of Badminton Horse Trials – if you wanted to go off-road vehicle spotting, today is the day! I’ve just seen a Fiat Panda Sisley, a special edition AWD Panda that dates back to the 1980s and was legendary for its off-road ability.

The Sorento will be joining the pack tomorrow, when 120,000 spectators are expected at the event for the cross country section of the three-day event.

And we have one accessory in the Kia that many other more expensive four-wheel drives don’t have – a car parking pass.

 

 

Friday – Best of the Bunch

bootie

Jeremy I’ll be trying to head off for the Cotswolds early today before the Bank Holiday rush. The Sorento is already fully loaded and by dropping the rear two rows of seats, there is a cavernous boot space.

That’s the good side of being a big car. The downside is that the Sorento isn’t that nimble on winding country backroads. It feels ponderous and fidgety. Stick it on a motorway, however, and it will shift you and your family comfortably.

The 194bhp engine has enough grunt to carry a full load, although I think I would have preferred my Sorento with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox because I’m still struggling for smooth gear changes with the manual. You have to work the engine hard to get any real performance, not helped by the clunky gearbox.

Still, for the price, the Sorento represents excellent value for money. The Kia is definitely the best of the bunch if you are after a budget SUV capable of seating seven. Only the Hyundai Santa Fe can offer serious rivalry.

Wednesday – Ask A Policeman

front

Jeremy  The policeman at the end of my road has been nagging me for ages to get hold of the latest Sorento. He’s owned his for five years and has, frankly, been far more excited about CarCouture’s latest arrival than me.

Now the latest version has been sat on my driveway for 24 hours, I am starting to understand just what he is raving on about. The new Sorento may be slightly more expensive that the previous model but it is an awful lot of car for £27,000.

There aren’t many full-size, seven-seat off-roaders about for the price and with the latest Kia styling both inside and out, Sorento represents great value for money.

Sorento is built on the same platform as the Hyundai Santa Fe, which we tested last month. Apart from the same mechanics, the bodyshell design states these are two distinctly different cars.The Santa Fe has a more streamlined front end, thanks to the Sorento’s more prominent bumper and inset fog lights. Sorento has a prettier back end, while there is little to choose from a side profile.

The key thing is that the policeman is in love with our Sorento already. Let’s see what he thinks tomorrow after I take him out for a drive…