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Kia targets quality and taste as it drops budget image



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Kia is fast growing into a brand that is defying expectations.

People close to the automotive industry might not see it, but for customers that don’t look at the development of automotive brands, the product seems to have suddenly leapt forwards in terms of quality.

The Sportage is the latest example of what the Korean manufacturer is capable of with its latest interior and exterior design. It’s the first car to be designed from scratch by Peter Schreyer.

Kia no longer wants be known as a budget motoring brand, but its price point at £20,777 is still extremely reasonable for the amount of equipment included on this special edition. The onus now is on value rather than “cheap” and as Schreyer puts it:

“It’s a car you want to be seen in. People will buy this car for pragmatic reasons, but also for taste.”

It comes with cruise control, climate control, heated front and rear leather seats, Bluetooth and iPod connection. A great addition is a rear view reversing camera incorporated into the rear view mirror. It pops up as a little video screen which is completely non-intrusive. It comes as standard.

Kia believes it has done away with hard plastic, but it is still present on the interior, though it is well designed. If Kia has cut any costs on materials it’s added that value in equipment.

It is easy to drive, and while not quite as effortless as a standard hatchback, it’s miles away from being anything like a wallowy SUV.

The ride is firm, but not stiff and the electronic power steering is light without being floaty.

When the full line-up of trim and specifications goes on sale in December, Kia expects 55% retail and 45% fleet sales. This shows Kia’s intentions to try and boost its fleet prospects to hang on to a stable market share.

The dealer network is expected to help sell 2,500 Sportages, which includes the 800 First Editions and then 10,000 units in its first full year of sales in 2011.

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