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Kia Sportage review: better than a Hyundai Tucson?

The Kia Sportage is a smart looking SUV with a long warranty and keen prices

T he once forgettable Kia Sportage founds its stride with the previous generation model, which introduced smarter styling and a seven-year warranty to go with its temptingly affordable prices. This latest version aims to continue that trend, with bold styling and a spacious interior packed with more technology than ever before.

Unlike some rivals such as the Toyota RAV4. no hybrid model is available, but Kia does offer a range of petrol and diesel engines and two- and four-wheel drive.

T he latest Sportage is more generous in interior dimensions than its predecessor. The driver and passenger have plenty of space, and those in the rear benefit from more leg room than before. It's now comfortably roomier than a conventional hatchback such as a VW Golf.

The boot can easily swallow large suitcases, while a large opening helps with loading. An adjustable boot floor adds to the Sportage's practical nature, as do rear seats that fold almost flat (albeit operated from the side of the seats rather than the boot itself).

Y ou sit high in the Sportage, and visibility out of the front is good. Over-the-shoulder blind spots can cause problems when parking, though, so it's worth upgrading to 2 specification in order to get the reversing camera and rear proximity sensors.

The 1.7-litre diesel needs working quite hard to perform, and while the six-speed manual gearbox has a direct shift the lever itself isn't the most comfortable to use. Most versions of the Sportage are available with four-wheel drive, but if you want an automatic gearbox you're restricted to the 2.0-litre diesel or 1.6-litre turbo petrol units, which also offer perkier performance than the 1.7 but consume more fuel.

K ia has spent a lot of time tuning the latest version of the Sportage to be better suited to UK roads than its predecessor, and the effort shows. The new model is better at cushioning its occupants from bumps in the road, doesn't lean over as much in corners and responds more readily to its controls.

The engines still don’t really encourage you to drive the Sportage quickly, though, and while the steering is more direct it still lacks any sense of connection with the road.

The latest Sportage is too new to have been included in the 2015 JD Power dependability survey, but its predecessor has a good record and Kia as a brand performed very well, finishing fifth out of 26 manufacturers.

You also get the reassurance of a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, whereas Nissan and Skoda provide only three years or 60,000 miles of cover.

T he 1.7-litre diesel model - the cleanest and greenest in the range - has an official average of 61.4mpg, whereas the latest Nissan Qashqai manages up to 74.3mpg. In real-world driving, you can expect about 45mpg, whereas the 1.5-litre diesel Nissan manages closer to 55mpg.

That gap closes up when you look at petrol models, where the Sportage also has a power advantage.

Still popular and sensibly priced; ownership should be reasonable

Kia might have become more widely known in the last few years, but it still hasn’t shaken off its good value core. The latest Sportage is keenly priced and excellent finance deals are available.

CO2 emissions are now competitive for the class, but it's a shame that some of the active safety features are reserved for top-spec models, because these would help the Sportage to appeal more to fleet buyers. The availability of paid-at-purchase fixed-price servicing for as long five years will help you manage outgoings.

Safe, but you'll need the top-spec model for the full range of equipment

A ll Sportages come with alloy wheels, all-round electric windows, air-conditioning, DAB radio, a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection and plenty more.

Upgrading to 2 specification adds bigger wheels, satnav, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and lane keeping assist.

Go for 3 spec and the wheels grow in size again, the seats become heated and wrapped in leather rather than cloth and there's an extra USB charging point for rear-seat passengers.

Top-spec 4 models also feature front parking sensors, more powerful headlights, electric seats and the full range of active safety systems.

For those after a sportier looking Sportage, GT-Line sits just between 2 and 3 specification in terms of equipment, but adds interior and exterior styling packs.

The Kia Sportage is a stylish and safe choice that comes generously specified. However, the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti are better to drive and the Hyundai Tucson has a plusher interior and a slightly bigger boot.

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