Gone are the days of spur of the moment trips out, with nothing but Mrs Gist and I with the open road; the addition of children into the Gist household now means that it takes a small army and several working days to plan logistics and assemble the supplies of nappies, spare clothes, car seats, pushchairs, snacks and hullabaloo that goes with family life.
With space and safety obvious requirements, Mrs Gist tasked me with finding a suitable family car; with both cross-overs and true ‘SUV’ 4x4s on the list, I considered options such as the Honda HRV, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Volvo XC60 and Nissan Qashqai, but after extensive test-driving and taking a long hard realistic look at our bank balance, I finally opted for the new Kia Sportage.
We’ve been using the Kia Sportage now for several months – so I hear you ask – “is a suitable family car, is it practical and are you happy with it?”. Well, lovely reader, let’s explore…
Driving and living with the Kia Sportage
Putting it simply, Kia’s Sportage is good fun to drive. It handles well, doesn’t overtly roll in the corners and doesn’t feel like a big car; however, the lack of cornering roll comes at a slight cost of firmness, bumps not terribly forgiving in the Sportage’s suspension.
The 1.6 GDi ISG engine is admittedly a little on the sluggish side, a frustrating gutless accelerating experience from upwards of 40mph, which can make overtaking a little underwhelming when on dual-carriageways and motorways. If I had the choice again, I’d opt for the 1.7 CRDi ISG or consider a higher-spec model featuring the 2.0 CRDi engine for a bit more get-up-and-go.
That said, the Sportage handled the – shall we say – slightly inclement weather conditions that we saw in February and March this year, a welcome addition to the Mr & Mrs Gist garage when my rear-wheel sports car was clearly not the correct choice for the conditions. Loading up the family in the Sportage wasn’t a concern, Kia’s offering making light work of slippy and snowy conditions, whilst feeling safe and secure – just what you want from a family vehicle.
As far as family 4x4s go, the Sportage isn’t the sexiest of shapes, but it isn’t like that grubby-faced oik you see hanging outside the off-license, either. It’s reasonably pleasant to look at.
The Sportage is a huge plus for families offering oodles of storage space, the boot easily handling the Mini Gist’s buggy, toys and other supplies with plenty of room spare. When Mrs Gist and I loaded up everything but the kitchen sink on our recent trip to Centre Parcs Woburn, we did so with ease.
Isofix anchor points means that universal baby seats fit like a dream, keeping those little ones safe and secure. In fact, even with car seats, the cabin still feels roomy, plenty of legspace and cubby-holes for everything a family might need on the go (think wet wipes, water bottles, tissues etc).
Kia Sportage Features
We plucked for the Sportage 2 model after much deliberation, coming with bags of features as standard, including:
- 17″ Alloy Wheels
- 7″ Touchscreen Satellite Navigation with European Mapping
- Reversing Camera System
- Kia Connected Services Featuring TomTom®
- Privacy Glass (Rear Windows and Tailgate)
- Dual Automatic Air Conditioning
- Roof Rails
- Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS)
- High Beam Assist (HBA)
- Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF)
The reversing camera is a godsend in this size vehicle, making backing out of tight supermarket carparks a breeze, safely and with confidence – even when splashed with snow and mud.
The sat-nav is easy to use and a welcome addition, simple and painless punching in coordinates or an address, with regular audio cues and straightforward directions.
Late night driving is also made simple thanks to the high-beam support, dipping the lights as the Sportage detects oncoming traffic; I’ve found this to work reasonably well. most impressive.
Overall, the Sportage feels incredibly safe and secure, I feel safe knowing that the Mini Gists and Mrs Gist are driving about in such a well-made and robust
car tank. It’s just not perception, either – the Sportage was awarded with a 5 star Euro NCAP rating.
The Kia Sportage Review – A family must-have?
With an on-the-road price of £21,450, the above standard features combined with the Kia 7-year warranty, decent build quality, safety features such as lane assist and practicalities of the Sportage make it, in my book, excellent value for money.
Whether you buy it outright, take out finance or consider a leasing arrangement, the Sportage seems like a very sensible shout for a family set of wheels. Just make sure you bag yourself a bigger engine than the 1.6ltr, otherwise, you might find yourself sitting rather frustrated with your foot welded to the floor trying desperately to accelerate.
A year into owning the all new Kia Sportage, we still love it and it gets a big thumbs up.