Whether you’re a fan of the look of the Kia Sportage is very much subjective, but what can’t be argued is that it has a sophisticated interior and an impressive list of standard features.
But this is the entry level Kia Sportage – the Si – and it’s also comparatively one of the most affordable mid-sized SUVs.
The Kia Sportage Si is up against the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail.
And yes, among those, if you’re after a two-wheel drive, petrol, automatic, base model – the Sportage Si is not only the cheapest option, but it doesn’t feel like an entry-level offering.
There are three trim levels in the range – this, the Si, the mid-range SLi and then the top-of-the-line Premium.
This is the fourth-generation Sportage and it looks a lot different to its predecessor.
High-set headlights, a lower, wider grille and sharply detailed bonnet, it certainly stands out.
Around the back very straight and linear, which is a contrast to the curvy features of the front end.
There’s a big boot – 466-litres and the rear seats are spacious. They even recline, there are air-vents and cup holders in the armrest, as well as a USB charge point too.
Up the front there’s a seven-inch touchscreen with high-res display, and the interface is clear and simple, it’s easy to jump between menus. The digital speedo is a plus too.
Leather steering wheel with all the buttons, and that plus the media screen make it feel more upmarket than most base model medium SUVs feel at this price point.
There’s no Apple CarPlay – though Kia says that is in the pipeline, and all new Sportage buyers will get it as part of their service plan when it’s available.
The Si is a front-wheel-drive with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission that runs on normal unleaded. No need for premium so that’s a tick when it comes to ongoing running costs.
It has a tendency to feel a little underdone at times, calling on the gearbox often to try and maintain momentum.
Climbing hills at country road speeds it isn't very enjoyable and the gearbox is a little fickle, struggling to choose the right ratio and stick with it.
Around town however it is much more user-friendly, with the lower gears definitely making better use of the engine's low torque output.
Steering is great - nicely weighted at all speeds, responsive in corners when you're pushing a little harder, and light enough around town to make parking a breeze.
Kia’s warranty offering is a benchmark seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with a seven-year capped price servicing plan and seven-years roadside assist.
The 2016 Kia Sportage Si is a very impressive offering at the entry level of the mid-size SUV segment. Distinctive styling – quality feel to the equipment and finishes and it’s well priced, just undercutting its major competitors.