[tl:gallery size=309×200]Cranes don’t tend to feature much on your average new car launch. Lots of Powerpoint presentations, speeches and canapés, but there’s rarely much call for heavy lifting. The UK unveiling of the new Kia Sportage was different. Held in the grounds of The Hempel Hotel in London, there was no way the cars could be driven into the hotel gardens. Instead, Kia hired a crane to lift the display vehicles over a hedge and into place.
A small fleet of other cars stayed outside the hotel grounds, waiting to be driven away once the presentation was over. I’ve spent a week in one of them (although without a towball so I haven’t yet been able to hitch up a caravan). First impressions? The car looks great. To my eyes, it’s a much more attractive design than the Hyundai ix35, which is largely the same car under the skin.
The first 800 cars to be sold in the UK are all top-spec ‘First Edition’ cars with lots of toys, four-wheel drive and a 161bhp diesel engine. With a list price of £20,777, you’re getting a lot of motor for your money. A Ford Kuga with a similar specification will cost almost £4000 more.
A Ford Kuga is more fun to drive and has a quieter engine, but I doubt that’s enough to justify such a huge price gap, especially when the Kia comes with a seven-year warranty while Ford buyers make do with just three years’ cover.
How well will it tow? The similar ix35 was good but not great when tested for the Towcar Awards this April. The Kia has different settings for its steering and suspension, so it may be an improvement. Watch this space.