Old v New: Kia Sportage v Kia Sportage
What a difference a day makes. Or, in this case, 3,650 days. As part of a new feature, we thought we’d take a look back at how much certain models have changed over the course of their lifetime.
Few have adapted to the changing needs of the automotive public as much as the Kia Sportage, with each generation taking advantage of the market zeitgeist in its own unique way.
The first-gen Sportage was developed in 1993 on the same platform as the Mazda Bongo, offered as either a five-door SUV or a three-door soft-top convertible. With an impressive 11-year lifespan, the success didn’t match its longevity and it sold in low numbers even domestically in South Korea.
Following Hyundai’s takeover of the South Korean brand in 1997, the second-edition Kia Sportage was based on the Hyundai Tucson and returned in 2005. A larger vehicle than the troubled outgoing model, the second-gen Sportage was the beginning of a turn in favour for the manufacturer, offering reliability and value for money.
With changing consumer behaviour and the runaway success of Nissan’s Qashqai crossover, Kia followed suit with the third-gen Sportage in 2010 – moving away from the sporty SUV looks of the previous models toward a more palatable and popular sleek crossover appearance.
The fourth-gen model released in 2015 has continued to build on the popularity of the previous edition, with subtle changes made to overall appearance and refinements made to the interior and engines. As the fifth most enquired car on ContractHireAndLeasing in 2016, it continues to prove a popular lease.
For this first head-to-head, we thought we’d pit the 2007 second-generation Kia Sportage 2.0 XS 4WD, a car still popular in the secondhand market, against the fourth-generation four-wheel drive 2.0 CRDi, a car which is a perennial favourite among lessees looking for high-riding crossover that does everything confidently and doesn’t break the bank.
Outwardly, you’d wonder if this was even the same model. The second generation Sportage has a similar stance to the BMW X3, with the roof rack side rails running down the back of the vehicle to the top edge of the rear lights being one of the most striking features of the exterior.
A long wheelbase also gives the Sportage short overhangs front and rear, resulting in a somewhat sporty look and better clearance off-road and better stability on the road.
At the rear, the window in the boot can be opened independently so small packages or shopping can be placed inside without having to lift up the whole boot.
On the other hand, the current model Sportage plays it by the numbers and takes advantage of the crossover zeitgeist. This change is thanks to famed Audi TT designer, Peter Schreyer, who in 2007 commented: “In the past, the Kia cars were very neutral. When you saw one on the road, you didn't really know if it was Korean or Japanese… I think it's very important that you are able to recognise a Kia at first sight.”
The rest is history. With Schreyer at the helm, the Sportage has risen in prominence on UK roads, and has long been seen as the number one challenger to the Nissan Qashqai’s decade long dominance of the crossover segment. And that’s thanks in part to his design which saw the Sportage use a sloping roof line and bulging arches, and with a svelte rear.
Whereas the second-gen Sportage brought to mind the BMW X3, a quick glance at the current Sportage brings to mind a smaller Porsche Cayenne.
We’ve long held the belief that the rapid development of in-car technology is making consumers switch their car more often to keep up with the latest gadgets and gizmos.
Needless to say, comparing the second and fourth-generation Kia Sportage brings this to the forefront. While the older Sportage in its XS trim certainly brings a lot to the table even by 2017’s standards – heated leather seats, anti-glare rearview mirror, privacy glass, rear-seats that fold down flat – in comparison it pales in comparison to the current offering.
The top-spec fourth-gen Sportage offers all the mod cons you’d expect from a current car - front parking sensors, keyless entry and start, a panoramic roof, LED rear lights, a TFT display between the dials, rearview camera and touchscreen satnav.
On the road
For a 10+ year old SUV, the second-gen Sportage handles surprisingly well. It doesn't lumber like a Land Rover Freelander from the same period, it isn’t light like a Honda CRV, and it grips the road like few others.
What’s more, by being sporty, spacious and adaptable it offers drivers something both functional and practical. Alas, as a true SUV the 4WD system limits economy and performance and for a 2.0 diesel it only offers a paltry 248Nm of torque. Its performance definitely reflects its age then, but as for being a driver or a passenger it offers a very smooth, quiet and classy ride throughout.
Comparatively, the fourth-gen Sportage offers all this and more. Based off the Hyundai Tucson it has accurate and sharp steering that helps judge corners and placement on the road which is a noticeable improvement over the old Sportage.
Where both models fall down is regarding visibility. While they offer a high-set driving position popular among drivers, the thick roof pillars spoil all-round visibility, especially at the rear. This is something we would have assumed Kia would have addressed over the evolution of the Sportage but alas, at least the fourth-gen’s rearview camera makes parking a little easier.
To the surprise of no one, the Kia Sportage’s running costs have only gotten better with age. While the second-gen Sportage returns a claimed 39.8mpg, its CO2 emissions are a worryingly high 187 g/km.
Looking at a similar spec fourth-gen four-wheel drive 2.0 CRDi Sportage, we see it returns a claimed 54.3mpg with a radically better 139g/km of CO2 emissions.
Road tax fairs a little bit better too, with the older model exempt from recent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty and the annual cost at £280.
The fourth-gen Sportage comes out on top, albeit with a £200 fee for the first year and £140 per year following due to these arbitrary changes.
Similarly, when it comes to fuelling up, for the second-gen Sportage you’re likely to be putting in 58 litres of diesel to fill the tank which should last around 440 miles. The fourth-gen Sportage will hold 62 litres of diesel and thanks to the added refinement will last you that little bit longer.
Again, to nobody’s surprise, the Kia Sportage’s safety credentials have only gotten better and better with each successive model.
While looking at the bulky true-SUV looks of the second-gen Sportage you may assume that is a very snug and safe car, however there are certain issues which can’t be overlooked.
While the model was introduced pre-Euro NCAP – meaning comparative results between the two models aren’t fair if I’m following my GCSE science methodology – it did go through both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test in the USA.
While the NHTSA gave the second-gen Sportage a top rating of five stars in their crash tests, the IIHS judged it to be merely acceptable for front and side-impact crashes and poor for its roof strength and head restraints awarding it only two stars.
Fast forward to today’s fourth-gen Sportage and the difference is certainly remarkable.
When it underwent Euro NCAP testing in 2015, the Kia Sportage scored a five-star safety rating breaking down as 90% for adult occupants, 83% for child occupants, 66% for pedestrian and 71% regarding safety assist features in the car such as electronic stability control, seat belt reminders, as well as front and side airbags as standard.
In our opinion
While the second-gen Sportage certainly looks cooler, is 4WD as standard, and has a similar spec cab (minus a lot of tech upgrades), the current gen Sportage has it beat in just about every other area, especially in those that matter the most – running costs and on the road. No wonder it is one of the most popular cars on the road and one of our most enquired vehicles.