ASKING me whether the new Kia Sportage is a cool car could be seen to be a rather unwise thing to do. I mean, anyone who knows me will be aware of my dubious tastes in all-things 1950s, and that I have no idea who Justin Timberland is. A music chap, apparently – I thought he made clothes.
However, if you ask me whether a car is cool or not and I am confident that I could answer your question with a certain amount of aplomb.
And so I come to the new Kia Sportage, a car that has really impressed me. It’s impressed me because I didn’t think I would be impressed by it. Keys in hand I was ready to dismiss this car as yet another SUV that was uninspiring to drive, tedious to look at, and awful to be seen in. Much like the old Sportage in fact.
But it really wasn’t. Far from it. Finished in a distinctly Range Rover Sport coppery-orange, the new Sportage is stunning to behold. From the taught and aggressive front to the pert and defined rear, the Sportage is a real looker.
It comes as no surprise that it was designed by an ex-Audi stylist Peter Schreyer for the Kia possesses a very confident air of authority. The LED strip lights that surround the headlamps give a distinctly unimpressed look to all other drivers, and bulging arches housing muscular polished alloys and a liberal dose of chrome gives the Sportage the sort of looks we have come to expect from Audi and Land Rover.
Start the ‘Tage up and the 2-litre diesel sounds smooth and, with 134bhp and 265lb of torque on tap, copes with many a frequent dash between traffic lights. However, those 134 horses feel a little strained at motorway speeds and, if you choose a Sportage with 18-inch alloys wheels, be prepared for a noisy strain – it’s a tad loud above 60mph.
It’s those 18-inchers that give the Sportage that firm, slightly jittery ride that I like so much around the town – it may sound mad but the hard ride gives credence to the ‘Sport-’ bit of the name. Though do be aware of this when you push on through winding country lanes. The Sportage is more of an urban hoody-wearing teenager than a country bumpkin.
And that’s exactly where most of these Sportages will reside, I expect. Driving through Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth, the number of looks I received from BMW X5 drivers was very flattering. Especially the couple of young chaps (I say young – I’m 21 for heaven’s sake) in an R-reg Fiesta who obviously thought they were in a Cadillac for they gave me one of those appreciative nods that they do in ‘hip-hop’ videos. I felt great and slightly amused.
So, is this Kia cool?
Well, at the moment it is very cool. Buy the orange-only 2.0 CRDi ‘First Edition’ model which comes with virtually every conceivable extra as standard, then you have a car that has ‘hip’ looks with a badge that is becoming more and more respectable by the day.
And so, for that road-test I was quite possibly the coolest-looking person on the road. That was until I stepped out of it clad in my pink Timberland shirt. It clashed awfully.
by JAMES BATCHELOR