Super agent James Bond is sipping a cocktail at a swish Parisian bar and needs his car.
He reaches into his pocket for the key fob presses a button and the car glides out of its parking space, without a driver, and pulls up alongside the kerb ready for our hero to speed away.
The stuff of dreams for us mere mortals…. but is it? You can get the same wizardry in the new Kia Sportage, a family SUV which will park itself or pull out of a bay with the owner pressing the key fob from across the street.
It’s all part of a hot package for the new model which has been the company’s biggest seller since the launch of the 2010 Sportage, That was the creation of a German who designed the Audi TT and who was persuaded to jump ship and work his magic on the Korean company’s models. He did and Kia quickly became a massive player in the UK car market.
This latest Sportage is a big step up both in styling and a high tec features including two 12.3in screens, one in the driver’s binnacle with super sharp computer generated dials and a central touch screen with a full menu of information including navigation, radio and Bluetooth.
The Sportage’s styling is just as stunning whether viewed face on, or from the back which gives the impression of two tail fins, at the top and across the middle. Bold design at its best. It has taken the crown from Mazda CX-5 as the best looking medium sized SUV.
Here is the bad news, all this new technology comes at a cost and Sportage’s price has shot up as much as its street cred. My top end GT-Line S is 40 grand and if you go for the lower models you don’t get the posh wide screen.
As well as the twin screens the centre console has a space age look with a rotary controller replacing the traditional gear selector freeing up space for storage.
Other new handy ideas include a solid hangar design in the back of the front head rests which will take a heavy bag or coat, a better idea than hanging something from above the rear door. More brownie points for a USB port built into the side cushion of each front seat.
No diesel option this time just a couple of 1.6 litre petrols, the most powerful boosted by a 48 volt hybrid motor so it is pretty potent and pulled my caravan with ease. Fuel consumption suffers but that is offset by the high cost of diesel. Towing capacity is down but good enough for the average four berth outfit, for anything bigger look to the seven seat Sorento although that is being scaled down to one £50k model coming early next year.
Performance from the hybrid is strong, my only complaint is with the seven speed auto which holds a gear for too long and is sometimes all over the place when towing, so I was thankful for the steering wheel paddle shifters.
You can get a plug-in hybrid Sportage but there are no plans for an electric model so the SUV option is the slightly smaller Niro.
As a family SUV Sportage has jumped a few rungs up the quality ladder although you will spot hard plastic around the centre console and along the boot side walls which can be easily scratched so a fabric cover might be a better option.
Whether it is looks, space or quality Sportage is hard to turn your back on and it still has that enticing seven year warranty.
Sportage GT-Line S
£40,255 (starts £27,250)
1.6 litre petrol, 226bhp
0-60mph 8secs; 120mpg
146g/km. 1st tax £215
Boot: 591-1780 litres
Insurance group 26
Towing capacity 1650kg