Up here in MotorMartin Towers you’re constantly being bombarded with pictures and information about all the latest models released from various manufacturers situated all over the globe and so it takes something truly striking to stand out from within a rather overcrowded marketplace.
The Mark 3 Sportage certainly had that special something that helped it stand out from the crowd, indeed the styling appealed to a wide cross section of the car buying public over here in the UK and still looks extremely fresh and innovative today. A few months back, MotorMartin was in the fortunate position to report on how this previous generation Sportage had retained its strong position in the marketplace with awards for Diesel Car Magazine Car of the Year Award as well as Best Medium sized SUV, clearly the Mark 3 was always going to be rather hard to improve upon but improve it they have.
Before we start though, perhaps it’s time to spend some time looking at where the Kia brand have come from in order to help us understand where they are today. The story starts back in December 1944 when Kyungsung Precision Industry, the origin of Kia, was founded and then, in January 1945, Kia’s first plant opens in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, followed swiftly with their second in Busan. A cycle of constant investment and expansion eventually ended up with production of the Kia Pride in December 1986 and the Pride setting foot in America the following January.
Further milestones were reached when in September 1992, the Sephia, Kia’s first independently developed passenger car, started production. Amazingly, in June 1993 the Mark 1 Sportage was launched whilst in November of same year the Sportage completed the 1993 Paris-Dakar Rally. Not bad going for a brand new model as taking part in such a notoriously tough race showed the public the faith Kia had in their first SUV. With additions to the Kia range arriving at regular intervals over the next few years and new plants opening in both Slovakia and China I think it’s safe to say that Kia found itself going from strength to strength. With a revamped Sportage arriving in August 2004 to international acclaim Kia was now being talked about in the same breath as mainstream companies such as Ford and Vauxhall, with further praise arriving in the form of 2008’s Car Company of the Year Award by Autocar and Kia receiving the Presidential Award for exceptional design management. High praise indeed I’ll think you’ll all agree.
Finally then, our brief tour arrives at April 2015 with the launch of the 2015 Sportage that you see in the pictures accompanying this review, and a further flurry of design and innovation awards from around the Globe. In fact, as recently as June this year, Kia Motors Ranked Number One in the Auto Industry for Initial Quality by J.D. Power, a story which can be read about here from a previous MotorMartin post. Kia Motors was also recognized as one of the highest quality brands in the US auto industry by Strategic Vision recently as well as being ranked highest among all popular brands in 2016 AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards and not only that, the Kia Optima and Soul were named amongst The Best Family Cars Of 2016 by Parents Magazine and Edmunds.com. What a year so far!
And after driving this all-new Sportage 1.7 CRDi ‘2’ Eco, it really is quite easy to see and feel how and why this SUV represents all that is good about the Mark 4 Sportage and how Kia have pulled off that most difficult of tricks. Namely, taking an already well developed and loved SUV in the form of the Mark 3 and improving its looks, efficiency and ‘real life’ motoring abilities whilst keeping all the qualities that made the Sportage so popular in the first place.
Speaking with Kia, it’s clear that the Sportage is an incredibly important model for the company, especially here in the UK where it is their best selling model, accounting for around 29% of all Kia sales with almost 90,000 third-generation sold. Kia’s experience with their previous model, means that they confidently predict that the 1.7 CRDi will claim more than half of all sales which means that this test of the Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi ‘2’ Eco is a big deal. Have Kia’s designers and engineers succeeded? MotorMartin is most definitely looking forward to finding out.
Now the previous edition of the Kia Sportage was a great looking SUV, a particular highlight being the new and expanded ‘tiger’ grill that was to become a signature feature across Kia’s range as and when the individual vehicles received their own revamps. So, the new Mark 4 needed this aspect of the car to be just as successful and in MotorMartin’s eyes, this all-new edition strikes a fine balance between the old grill of the Mark 3 and the new direction that Kia is taking with the styling. This new front end and grill are striking and draw the eye offering, as they do, something new and daring that stands out amongst the rather generic front ends of its rivals. I particularly like how the grill is far more purposeful than the old and when combined with the new light clusters, looking like they’ve arrived from another planet, rather than a factory in Slovakia. MotorMartin most definitely approves.
Another attention grabbing feature of the Mark 4 Sportage and one that gives, in MotorMartin’s opinion, this edition a huge chunk of personality is the extraordinary look of the bonnet. I love how the high wings slope down into the bonnet before rising again in the form of a raised crest heading off towards the windscreen. The view from inside of the cabin, out and along the bonnet, is possibly an even better view of the work completed by the engineers and designers and it creates an impressive focal point that complements the overall look of the Sportage perfectly.
With an overall length of 4,480mm, a width of 1,855mm and a height of 1,645mm, the Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi ‘2’ Eco is a well proportioned car that stands up shoulder to shoulder with the competition. Features of MotorMartin’s test model include: rather attractive 17″ Alloy Wheels, a Chrome Front Grill Surround, Body Coloured Door Mirrors, Black Side Sill & Wheel Arch Body Mouldings, LED Daytime Running Lights, Roof Rails and Privacy Glass (Rear Windows & Tailgate) all of which combine perfectly to give this great looking SUV its unique looks. And in MotorMartin’s eyes, this is an incredible looking SUV amongst a class that is becoming more and more generic. The perfect vehicle for a great Sunday day A job very well done and deserving of MotorMartin’s praise.
Have a look at the short film below, kindly provided by Kia from their own YouTube channel and checkout the good looks that the all-new Sportage provides.
Made to Wow indeed. Don’t forget to checkout MotorMartin for further news stories featuring Kia and look out for part 2 where MotorMartin looks at the technology present in the Sportage as well as the ‘real life’ driving and day to day practicality of this handsome SUV from Kia.
Where will you go?