Blog: Simon WarburtonSporting offer from Kia

Simon Warburton | 8 April 2011

Kia has strong Sportage demand from its Zilina factory

Kia has strong Sportage demand from its Zilina factory

It seems Kia just can't get its Sportage SUVs off its production line at the Slovak factory near Zilina quickly enough.

And the company kindly lent me one of its shiny new Sportages recently and although it's fair to say I haven't' driven anything quite its size for a while, once you get used to the driving position, it is an effortless vehicle to drive - reverting to my normal car felt like I was hauling a tank around.

Kia reckons "this urban-friendly cross-over challenges preconceptions of what an SUV should be." Is that right? Well, what I thought is that you get an awful lot of kit for considerably less of a price tag - coming in at less than GBP17,000 (US$27,800) - substantially less than some of its more "illustrious" SUV cousins of a similar size.

And there's the rub with Kia isn't it? You can load as many toys as you want on to the car, but certain people will still have certain ideas about the vehicles from South Korea.

But bit by bit, I think that's changing. The Sportage was one of the stars of the show at Geneva recently, constantly surrounded by a hubbub of people and providing an imposing physical presence on the manufacturer's stand.

Its option of four engines, including new 1.6 petrol and 1.7 turbodiesel, the Stop and Go fuel-saving systems - so quiet I barely heard it go on and off - make, say Kia, the possibility of 50mpg - quite something given its size.

An elevated driving position is obviously attractive in the 16-model series, while Kia offers its familiar 1, 2 and 3-range trim options with a range-topping Sat-Nav grade of Sportage 3 and KX-3 incorporating 7" touch screen satellite navigation system and reversing camera.

My model featured a pretty prominent '7 Year Warranty' sticker visible in the rear-view mirror - and of course to following traffic.

Kia UK managing director Michael Cole recently told me the 7-year warranty was here to stay and was no temporary marketing gimmick: "Seven-year warranty is part of what we are now," he said. "It is a strategic programme, not a tactical offer. There is absolutely no doubt the seven-year warranty generated huge interest in the brand."

There are other cross-overs, there are other SUVs out there. But you get a substantial amount of bang for your buck with the Sportage and Kia seemingly can't produce enough of them.


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