Kia - Sportage
This is the Sportage's trump card. Schreyer has certainly earned his salary with the clean-edged Kia. The car looks better and better each time we encounter it, and that's a rare trait for an SUV.
The handling is fairly decent. The Sportage copes with its high-sided SUV body well in the corners, and even though it doesn't replicate the hatchback-like finesse of the Nissan Qashqai, it responds quite well to demands of quick progress.
The Sportage can hardly be considered cosseting, and it doesn't ride as well as its more expensive rivals, but no one should doubt that Kia has found a reasonable compromise between comfort and the demands of making an SUV handle in reasonable fashion.
Like most Kia models, the Sportage feels very solidly put together in a way that never draws much admiration. Most likely this is because the manufacturer wields its budget with the strict economy of a white goods manufacturer. Rugged plastic is the interior's material of choice.
Like most affordable SUVs the Sportage is concerned with economy rather than speed. The 1.6-litre petrol and 1.7-litre diesel offer frugal motoring, but not many thrills. Even the 2.0-litre lumps register as spritely rather than fast.
The Sportage is very much a compact SUV, which means despite its seemingly large proportions, it doesn't offer a great deal more usable space than a medium-sized hatchback. The Kia is competitive in these terms though, and doesn't ever feel cramped thanks to the benefits of a higher roofline.
The entry level models, as you might expect, do well on daily costs. The 1.7-litre diesel engine might be capable of an mpg in the mid 50s, but even the cheaper 1.6-litre petrol will manage around 44mpg with a light touch.
Price is often the deal breaker for any affordable family car, and the Sportage manages to be competitive without breaking the mould. The top spec models get plenty of toys, but the price puts them alongside the superior Ford Kuga, while at the opposite end of the scale the Nissan Qashqai looms large.
Satellite navigation is the preserve of top spec models while the stereo is merely functional unless you opt for the upgraded system with an external amplifier.