SIX months ago Kia launched their most powerful Sportage ever – and with a 2.0-litre CRDi turbodiesel 181bhp engine under the bonnet it certainly packs a punch.
The range topping Sportage KX-4 completes the 0-60 mph dash in 9.4 seconds and has a top speed of 120 mph. That’s not at all bad given that this is an all-wheel-drive Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
As well as packing a punch the Sportage also cuts a dash.
The aggressive ‘tiger nose’ grille gives the diesel-powered motor a sporty look while also teasing the everyday punter into thinking they’re eyeing up a vehicle from a traditionally more premium stable.
Chrome headlights with a strip of LED lights running around them help boost the Sportage’s athletic image, as do 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles and a low raked front windscreen.
In the flagship model, on test here, you get all the trimmings too, including full leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, seven-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with EU mapping, Xenon lights, automatic lights and wipers, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, cruise control, iPod connectivity, colour reversing camera and a seven-speaker stereo complete with external amplifier and subwoofer.
If that isn’t standard equipment for one car, the KX-4 model also comes complete with Sat Nav, a Parallel Parking Assist System, all-round parking sensors, a keyless smart entry system and stop/start technology.
But, considering I spent most of my time inside the car on long journeys in either snow or rain, what impressed me most about the KX-4 was its All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system.
The intelligent electronically-controlled single high ratio system continuously monitors driving conditions and anticipates when AWD will be needed ensuring Sportage is always in the correct drive mode for the prevailing circumstances.
The AWD system normally delivers 100 per cent of engine torque to the front wheels. But the torque can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-to-rear to enhance cornering stability or if road conditions deteriorate. For off-road driving, owners can manually select lock mode, which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph.
I might not have done any off-road driving during my week behind the wheel of the Sportage but I did endure a testing drive home from Oswestry one night when the clouds opened and covered the road in a thick layer of snow. In this situation the Sportage AWD system did exactly what it said on the tin and made light work of the testing conditions.
The interior is also very swish, the seat are comfortable, there is ample space for both children and golf glubs, while the two large glass panels in the roof make the inside of the Sportage feel airy and light.
The Sportage ‘KX-4’ 2.0 CRDi 181bhp manual is priced at £27,195 and the automatic at £28,500. A lower spec Sportage can be picked up from as little as £17,300 – making this Kia a popular choice for customers, especially when you throw in the small matter of a seven year warranty.