While the South East Asian manufacturer Kia appeared to be content to concentrate on their flagship models -- the Pride supermini and Mentor family car -- they surprised a few people by introducing the compact 4 x 4 the Kia Sportage in 1995. Developed as an attempt to undercut the Suzuki Vitara, the Toyota RAV4 and the Vauxhall Frontera the Sportage was successful to an extent and has certainly sold well since its introduction.
Arriving in the UK in Jul 1995, The Sportage was available in three different versions the GLX, the GLX SE or the SLX. However, all three versions shared the same engine and gearing -- a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine with four-wheel drive and this running gear has remained as standard ever since.
However, in October 1996 a new version was launched, the Executive SE as was a special edition premium priced model. The special edition was named the Karmann Sport -- taking its name from the coach-building company based in Germany, which built the Kia Sportage for Europe and was also responsible for the Volkswagen Golf cabriolet.
Only around 250 of these models were produced while it was followed the next year by the Karmann Sport SE, which featured the addition of air conditioning and was set at a price of £20,000. While the range was revised in mid-1999 leaving just the SX, S and GSX models no mechanical alterations were made.
Bang for your Buck
While the used Kia Sportage is roomy enough for four adults to be seated comfortably, any more than that and it becomes something of a squeeze. In fact, the interior of the Kia Sportage is little bigger than an ordinary family saloon. Nonetheless, the car had a reputation for its luxury equipment, which included front and rear electric windows, a Thatcham Category II vehicle immobiliser, central locking, a rear wiper/washer and a stereo radio cassette player. In addition, the GLX models also featured anti lock brakes, alloy wheels and a quality RDS stereo. The GLX SE meanwhile also included air conditioning.
The only real notable omission is airbags, which while available on left hand drive model were surprising absent from all the right hand drive versions.
What You'll Pay
The good news is that a good second hand Kia Sportage for sale can be found at an affordable price. For a mid-95 SLX model, for example, you could pick one up for as little as £1,700. Furthermore, for the more upmarket GLX and GLX SE, you will never have to pay much over £3,000.
On the other hand a decent 1998 S-plater will cost upwards of £3,200 and if you happen to find one of the rare Top Executive SE versions or a Karmann Sport you can expect to pay £3,600 for a 98 S-plater. Finally, the modified post 1999 2.0 litre versions start at around £4,000 while the XSE version can go for at least £6,300.
What to Check For
While the transmission and engines are well made and durable, if the car doesn't have a full service history it may be best to avoid it. In addition, all the usual accident damage checks should be carefully carried out.
The luxury features are often the area where faults can be found, especially the mirrors, doorlocks and electric windows. These can be difficult to repair and replace so best to avoid any vehicles that have these kinds of faults where possible. However, overall Korean cars are just as good as their Japanese rivals these days as far as reliability and durability are concerned.
Front and rear brake pads are around £40 a pair, exhaust systems without catalytic converter can be bought for about £140. Alternators are around £130 for a new one while new starter motors are around £110. New door mirrors will cost around £85 and a new windscreen will be about £115. A major service can be about £230 while a minor one will be around £90.
How it Drives
The used Kia Sportage for sale essentially performs much like a family saloon, while you can expect slightly more body roll from the Sportage simply because it sits higher on the road than the average family saloon. 0-60 takes the Sportage around 14.7 seconds, while the top speed can reach up to 103mph. As far as economy is concerned you should expect to get approximately 20-30miles for every gallon, while this does depend a lot on the kind of journeys you make.