Swapping the ST for a Kia Sportage

I never thought these would be words that I’d type. It feels a bit too much like a confession. But here goes: I am buying a Kia.

There I’ve said it. It’s out in the open now. I’ve admitted it and it’s something I’m going to stick by. I know my dad won’t be pleased. He brought me up to like man’s cars like Fords and Volvos not ‘Korean crap’ (his words not mine).

I’ve tried to explain to him, Kias have changed, but he’s having none of it. And that’s despite my mum owning a Soul. That’s the problem you see, it takes a long time to change  people’s opinions of a brand.

Kia has come a long way in a very short space of time. In the last three years its cars have taken dramatic leaps forward in quality and design. They’ve even got a former Audi designer penning their latest models.

Peter Schreyer is the man behind the crayons and his influence is huge on the new Sportage, the first model he’d really got to grips with.

The new Sportage is – and I’m not just saying this because I’m buying one – a very good car. And the purchase feels somewhat like fate anyway.

I was lucky enough to travel to South Korea with Kia last year and was immersed in the brand’s plans, introduced to its technology and ethos and I have to say the brainwashing worked.

Kia and sister firm Hyundai have big plans and the latest generation of cars will be the weapons that finally hit the spot with consumers.

So why swap a 2.5-litre turbocharged Focus ST for a Kia? Well, because it’s just so expensive to run. The ST is costly to insure, it uses more fuel than a Challenger tank and road tax is punishing.

The Sportage we’ve picked on the other hand has the fuel-efficient 1.7-litre diesel lump. With stop start, fuel consumption is in the high 50s, road tax about the same as my BMW GS and insurance pitifully low.

But the real reason I bought it is because I just like the way it looks. Schreyer’s design is spot on. It’s comfortable to drive and in the white we’ve ordered it in it really stands out… for a Kia.

We’ve gone for the 2 trim level which has air con and a decent stereo but no leather. And with a bit of deal making and a helping hand from the press office I’ve managed to get the 18-inch alloys from the top of the range model to stick on it.

I’ve just got to find some tyres for them though as they come without rubber. And in another strange sequence of events I also get to keep the 17s that come as standard. I’m thinking. Or making them into a table in the office.

I finally placed the order with Hendy Group today. They sold me the Focus and have been impeccable ever since.

They’ve offered me £10k for the ST. That’s a bit low, so I’ll try and flog it on the web when I know exactly when the new car will arrive. If I get a bit more for it I’ll be happy.

And, as much as my dad will hate me saying it, I’m actually looking forward to owning a Kia. And I really didn’t think I’d ever be typing that either…

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