We'd forgotten just how good this car is, a real standout in one of the fastest growing segments of the market. What's more, the Sportage is now available with satellite navigation and it includes speed camera warnings. Really the biggest decision you have to make is not whether to buy the car (that's a given) but whether to get the petrol or the turbodiesel model -- they're both very good.
The 2.4-litre four cylinder petrol engine delivers 130kW of power and 227Nm of torque and uses fuel at the rate of 9.2 litres/100km. There's also a smaller 2.0-litre petrol engine in the entry Si model but for the purposes of this test we're looking at only the two top of the line Platinum models.
The 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo diesel is cracker, good for 135kW of power and 392Nm of torque, with fuel consumption of the 7.5 litres/100km. It gives nothing away to the petrol engine in terms of power and walks all over it in the torque department. It's the torque figure that's important because this is the stuff that makes V8s so effortless to drive.
Both the 2.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines come with a six-speed automatic. The driver can change gears manually or simply leave the thing in D (but there's no change paddles) We found the petrol model at bit busy for our liking.
The petrol model is really toey. At times it feels like a dog straining at the leash and this can be annoying. In contrast the diesel is smoother and more relaxed, with more linear power delivery. The only time you hear it rattle is at idle with the windows wound down.
The new 7 inch touch screen satnav unit is a breeze to use, with bright easy to read graphics and a host of other features. For those interested both the petrol and diesel models can tow a 1.6 tonne, braked van or trailer.
Both cars are identically equipped, with leather and climate air conditioning, a full array of airbags and safety systems, plus rear parking sensors and revesing camera as part of the satnav unit. Both front seats are heated and the driver's seat can also be cooled as well as being power adjustable.
Bluetooth with audio streaming is standard along with a 7-speaker audio system that includes a separate amp and subwoofer. Full iPod connectivity is offered along with two power outlets in the front console. The car feature LED running lights and rides on 18-inch alloys and 235/55 rubber with a full sized alloy spare. The killer techno orange paint job by the way is $520 extra.
If money is no object, we'd suggest the diesel model. It offers a great combination of power and economy. And diesels are noted for their longetivity so it's the gift that's going to keep on giving year after year.
But it is $3000 more and for some people this could be a deal breaker. Do the sums and you'll discover it takes many thousands of kilometres before they break even. Like we said however they're both very good and we're sure you won't find the petrol engine disappointing.