Nearly 25 years ago Kia was declared bankrupt because of the Asian financial crisis. Who would have thought it would bounce back with such a bang and become one of the best manufacturers in the world?
Ironically the name Kia roughly translates into Rising from Asia – and like good bread the rising just gets higher. And it is worth mentioning that Korean car manufacturing is now equally as good as that from Japan.
I’ve just been driving the Kia Sportage, the SUV which is the most popular Kia model in the UK and of which more than half a million were manufactured last year.
After the world wide slump in motoring production last year Kia are on a bounce and last month more than 7,500 vehicles were sold in the UK. And that was five per cent of the total market share. The Sportage retained its place as the brand’s most popular model in the UK and is ranked seventh in the list of UK top 10 bestsellers.
Paul Philpott, president & CEO of Kia UK, said: “We had an unprecedented level of pent-up demand from customers after the slump. As demand bounces back, we’re seeing growing interest across many of our model lines, particularly the Sportage.
“Face-to-face appointments and test drives are now available and proving popular, alongside ‘click and collect’ services. The priority for our dealers is to give Kia customers the best and safest experience as the industry gets back on track after more than a year of disruption.”
The Sportage is now at its fourth generation and it has just got better each time.
There are five trims, a choice of two petrols and one diesel engine and prices start around £24,000 going through to £33,000. There are a number of variations. There is a mild hybrid available, both manual and automatic gearboxes plus four wheel drive should you require it.
It was some years ago when Kia introduced the seven year/100,000 mile warranty and that has not been bettered in the industry. It is not to be sneezed at and it is certainly worth to be considered when getting a new car.
The thing I liked most about the Sportage is that it appears to be manufactured with the customer in mind. Many drivers turn the button off the stop/go and the lane switch equipment as well. There is a button right at your hand and it is so very easy. Other manufactures mean you have go through a rigamarole to do that.
The mileage is pretty good and you’ll get between 32 and 50 depending on your engine type.
The Sportage handles brilliantly. There is a good driving position and all of the five trims have electrically adjustable lumbar support and manual seat height adjustment. The top trims have a ten-way power adjustable driver’s seat which is extremely comfortable on long journeys.
There is a central armrest and all the controls are well marked with well placed buttons.
All versions have a rear-view camera which is probably one of the best around and rear parking sensors as standard. Top of the range you get a surround view camera system which is brilliant.
The LED headlights are fitted to the top versions and all trims get auto lights with auto main beams and auto wipers.
All Sportages come with an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen, sat nav, a DAB radio, USB connector and Bluetooth, as well as Apple Car Play and Android Auto smartphone mirroring which allows the driver to use their phone’s sat-nav through the car’s screen.
The touchscreen is fairly quick to respond to prods, and there are physical shortcut buttons either side of it that make it easy to hop quickly between key functions.
A six-speaker sound system is standard which has reasonable quality with the top specs getting to the best equipment and all models get a USB port up front. The Sportage looks smart all the way through and the upper trim levels have leather seats. All models feature a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever. Another winner from Kia.