You can be forgiven for taking a closer look at the badge on the Kia Sportage, because on first impressions you doubt whether it really has been made in Korea.
Its imposing grille and large sweptback headlamps, with LED daytime running lights, suggest Germanic parentage rather than far eastern promise.
And there is a modicum of truth in that assumption as German designer Peter Schreyer, who designed the original Audi TT coupe, created this eye-catching SUV.
The same attention to detail is evident inside, where there is a big improvement on the manufacturer’s previous offerings. OK, there’s the odd piece of plastic trim, but it’s not enough to detract from the car’s surprisingly upmarket feel.
It’s roomy too, which adds to that sense of opulence, and given its high riding stance it’s surprising to see how it actually drives like a much smaller car with plenty of grip and a composed ride.
There is a 16-model line-up to choose from of two and four-wheel drive variants powered by 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines and 1.7-litre and 2.0-litre diesel units.
Our test version is the 1.7 CRDi Sportage 2 2WD with a P11D price of £20,300. That represents excellent value for money coming as it does with long list of standard equipment, including alloy wheels, air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, daytime running lights, cornering lights, fog lamps and auto wipers as standard, not to mention the firm’s trademark seven-year warranty.
Fleets looking to minimise their motoring bills should consider our stop/start equipped version, with a claimed combined of 54.3mpg.
We’re currently squeezing 43.2mpg out of our test car, but when it’s spending most of its time on the motorway the return is a lot better.
It also compares well to one of its closest rivals, the Nissan Qashqai, which boasts a claimed combined 57.6mpg on its entry-level 1.5 dCi 2WD Pure Drive and has emissions of 130g/km.
Meanwhile, the 1.7 CRDi Sportage, with its larger engine, produces 135g/km, putting it into the 19% BIK tax bracket for 2010/11 and 20% for 2011/12.
All in all a welcome addition to any company’s car choice list and one which may well prove a popular choice.