The Numbers

1999cc 4cyl, 122kW, 205Nm, AWD, 8.6L/100km, 1531kg

The Topgear Verdict

Spacious, practical, and now better to drive, the Sportage is good for almost anyone - except the very tall.

2014 Kia Sportage Platinum

What is it?

The refreshed version of Kia’s five-seat soft-roader – only it’s gotten slightly less soft. The suspension has been revised and the new Sportage feels, well, more sporty. It looks very handsome, too – it’s one of the best looking small SUVs on the market right now, with blunt can-do looks and no look-at-me silliness.

What’s it like to drive?

We had the top-spec Platinum petrol for a week. We drove it around town, on the freeway and on country roads, and the ride is excellent on all of them – a little firm, perhaps, but that’s better than a little sloppy. Noise levels are impressively low, even on coarse surfaces and at freeway speeds. It’s spacious inside – even if you have adults in the back – and the boot is big with a gaping entry.

The one gripe we had with it was headroom. For a six-foot-two driver, our scalp was brushing the ceiling even with the electric seat adjusted to its lowest level. It meant slouching in the seat, which defeats the purpose of the (driver’s side only) six-way electrical adjust seat.

The lower spec models – the Si, Si Premium and SLi – don’t get the panoramic sunroof of the Platinum, which does lower the headroom; when we get a chance in those, we’ll confirm whether that solves the issue. In the meantime, if you’re over six foot: try the other models. (If you’re short: our condolences. Good luck getting things down from the top shelf. But you’ll be fine for headroom in the Platinum, at least.)

What about towing?

All variants of the Sportage are rated for 750kg unbraked, and  1600kg braked – not massive, but standard for the size. Only the SLi and Platinum variants get 4WD; the Si and Si Premium are FWD only.

What’s it cost?

Our Platinum petrol costs $38,390, and boasts over the other models the panoramic sunroof, electric adjust driver’s seat, smart key and button start, leather seats with front and rear seat warmers, auto levelling headlights, and LED rear lights.

The entry level Si, with FWD and a 2.0L petrol engine, is the only variant with a manual option: $25,990 in manual and $28,190 in auto.

The Si Premium, with FWD and 2.0 petrol, is $29,990.

The SLi is AWD and comes with either the 2.0 petrol ($34,790) or 2.0L diesel ($37,790).

And the top-spec AWD Platinum is $38,390 with the 2.0L petrol and $41,390 with the 2.0L diesel.

Would you take this or a Hyundai ix35?

Look, they’re similar vehicles – they share a platform and their engines. The current ix35, which had its mid-cycle refresh late last year, has the option of a 2.4L petrol engine in the top spec Highlander, with more power and torque for around the same price as the Sportage Platinum; but that added power ups fuel usage without increasing towing power. The Sportage is ever so slightly larger with infinitesimally more ground clearance, and has a larger cargo space in the back (by about 100 litres – it’s a good size boot.)

Driven: July 10, 2014