The Sportage is comfy for long journeys and it gives a great view out over other cars, but it’s not as fun as other SUVs and the diesels are a bit noisy
The Sportage is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and you can also have it with an automatic gearbox or four-wheel-drive, but only on the range-topping model.
If you do lots of long journeys, go for the 1.7-litre diesel engine – it’s not exactly quick but easily good enough for day-to-day motorway driving and returns a claimed 57mpg. It’s a bit noisy when you accelerate hard but quietens down at a cruise, and you don’t get much wind noise in the Sportage’s cabin. It’s available with a manual or smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, but not with four-wheel drive.
If you plan on towing things with your Sportage, you’ll want the 2.0-litre diesel. It’s a bit quieter than the 1.7 and a tad smoother too, but it’s the fact you can have it with four-wheel drive that makes it the top choice for pulling things. Otherwise, don’t spend the extra on a four-wheel-drive Sportage – the system is nowhere near as sophisticated as you get in a Land Rover Discovery Sport, which is far superior off road, and it’s not worth the extra outlay in terms of purchase price or extra fuel usage.
The Sportage is a generally comfortable, relaxing car to travel in but the 1.7-litre diesel is a bit noisy when you're accelerating hard
If you want a petrol engine you have two choices – a 1.6-litre engine without a turbocharger and a more powerful, more expensive one with a turbocharger. The basic 1.6-litre has 130hp but it feels sluggish, which means you have to change gear a lot to keep up with traffic. The 174hp turbocharged 1.6-litre is only available on top-spec GT-Line models, but it copes much better than the basic 1.6 when you’re carrying lots of passengers and their luggage. Its fuel economy won’t be a patch on the diesel models, however – it’s best suited to stop/start driving in town, where it’s smooth, quiet and easy to live with.
The high driving position makes the Sportage an easy car to drive around town. The view out is good but not perfect – there’s a bit of a blind spot ahead and to the right of the driver’s seat. The rear window is quite small too but, thankfully, rear parking sensors are standard on all but the entry-level model. There is also a range of Sportage accessories available from your chosen dealer to personalise its look. You do have to pay for a relatively expensive 4 model or above to get automatic emergency braking though, which will slow the car and perform an emergency stop if it detects an obstacle that you’ve not reacted to – it works at up to 50mph. The Sportage got a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was crash tested in 2015, so it should keep you and your family safe.
The Sportage is a car that won’t annoy you if you use it every day– the steering and pedals are light and the lane-assist feature – standard on 2 models and upwards – gently nudges the steering wheel to keep you centred in your lane on the motorway. The suspension doesn’t iron out lumps on the road quite as well as the Nissan Qashqai, but it’s not going to annoy you on bumpy roads. The upside of this firmer suspension is that the Sportage doesn’t lean very much in corners, which helps if you have passengers who are prone to car sickness.
Despite this, the Sportage doesn’t excel at is putting a smile on your face on a country road. If you want a similar-size SUV that drives like a sporty car then you’re better off with the excellent but more expensive Mazda CX-5. Is a sporty drive really what you want from a family car, however? After all, the Sportage does a lot of other things – such as comfort and practicality – very well indeed.