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

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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!?

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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

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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

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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…

 

 

Saturday – An Alternative To Bling

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To a certain generation of bloke, the name Subaru will always be associated with the WRX rally car. The Impreza is no longer imported in to Britain, although you will still see plenty of die-hard ‘Scooby‘ fans frittering away their pay cheques to keep one on the road. No, these days, Subaru is targeting the SUV market and this fourth generation Forester is a key weapon.

Today I did my weekly shop down at Waitrose and the Subaru looked oddly out of place, parked next to row after row of ‘bling’ four-wheel drives. Personally, I love the fact I’m driving something different, which I know can tackle proper off-road work and won’t be offended if I chuck half a ton of wood in the back.

Sadly, I’m not sure the majority of British car-buyers will see it the same way. The Forester isn’t offensive to the eye but it just doesn’t have the cosmetic appeal of a Kia Sportage or a Ford Kuga. Beauty may be skin deep but that’s as far as most people look these days when they are buying a car.

The boxy design will be seen as a disadvantage, even though it allows for a huge load capacity, exceptional headroom and a bright cabin. The interior is basic but you know a Forester will still be lugging sheep up a field in 15 years time when a Kuga has been turned back into sheet metal.

Right now I’m feeling totally inconspicuous in the Forester – a rare feat in any modern SUV. And I’m loving it.

Monday – Pretty On The Outside

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Jeremy If I had to choose a small SUV on style alone, then the Kia Sportage would be top choice. The Honda CR-V now has the blandest backside in motoring history and I wasn’t too sure about the Outlander when it arrived either.

Then something happened. I took ten paces backwards and suddenly the Mitsubishi became a vehicle transformed. It’s as dull as a block of butter close up but this is a vehicle that needs a little space to be appreciated.

The slippery shape isn’t that different to many an SUV on the market but the new Outlander nose gives it something extra. It looks especially good with privacy glass too.

So it’s a shame the interior is less impressive. The centre console housing the automatic gearstick looks like it could have come from a Mitsubishi utility vehicle and is totally out of place in a £34k family car.

Mitsubishi need to look at a Land Rover Freelander. Fixtures and fittings are important and the Outlander lacks the finish to put it in this price bracket.