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Kia Sportage engines, driving and performance

How does the Kia Sportage drive?

You’ll find very few annoyances in the way a regular petrol or diesel Sportage drives. They have light but direct steering, and there’s plenty of grip to give you confidence on twisty back roads.

You’ll have more fun in a Ford Kuga than in the Sportage, but realistically the Kia’s refinement at motorway speeds puts it ahead of the Ford if you’re after a relaxed family vehicle. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox is fast-shifting, smooth and rarely puts a foot (or gear) wrong, while the manual has a light clutch and easy-to-move gearshift.

One fly in the Sportage’s ointment is the hybrid version – the ‘self-charging’ car’s engine can sound quite revvy and raucous, and it does drone in the cabin when it fires into life.

The lane-keeping assist can be quite insistent, however – but it’s easily deactivated by holding a button on the steering wheel.

Is the Kia Sportage comfortable?

Yes – the models on 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels are comfiest of all, ironing out most bumps rather well. The variants with 19-inch wheels do transmit more thuds to your backside (and aren’t as efficient either), so we’d err on the side of smaller wheels if you can stand the look.

What’s the best Kia Sportage engine to get?

We’d pick either the 1.6-litre petrol with an automatic gearbox or the 1.6-litre hybrid with the same auto box. Both provide a decent mix of performance and economy, with the diesel returning almost 50mpg if driven with care. The revvier, slightly noisier petrol will average closer to 40mpg.

If it suits your lifestyle, the plug-in hybrid version of the Sportage can be a better compromise than the self-charging car simply because you can travel longer distances on electric power alone. Both hybrids suffer from a slightly grabby brake pedal as the car transitions between regenerative braking and using the physical brake pads and discs to slow you down.

Kia Sportage performance

Kia’s sensibly not chased performance figures with the Sportage – this is a laid-back family SUV after all. That said, the quickest version is the 226hp hybrid, which will get from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds. The heavier 261hp PHEV takes 7.9 seconds, and the 1.6-litre mild-hybrid petrol takes 9.9. The 134hp 1.6 diesel takes 11 seconds, while the slowest-accelerating Sportage is the 113hp version of the diesel. 

Again, this is not a racing car, and all engines will get up to and maintain motorway speeds just fine.

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