Asia rises up by Richard Webb

Richard Webb ponders how overnight success usually happens after a lifetime of solid effort. 

I’ve interviewed several globally known sportsmen, bands and designers recently. We spoke about the perception that once they became famous, people think to themselves “where did these guys come from? One day obscure, next day famous?” 

It can often seem that way, but most of us know there are countless hours of unsung endeavour spent refining your craft, out of the glare of publicity before fame changes things 

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been driving the Kia cee’d Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi 2 Eco and the Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition Auto. Spending quality time with these cars in all conditions – motorways, country roads and in cities, I started the inevitable thought pattern; “How come Kia seems to have gone from Zero to Hero in no time at all?” Of course, like it is with public figures that have excelled, Kia have been quietly getting on with developing their car-craft for a long time – in this case, more than 70 years. 

The Kia cee'd Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi 2 Eco, for example, is big on versatility and space, and quality craftsmanship is something Kia have clearly worked hard on over the years. The entire car has been reworked, resulting in a pleasing shoulder line that converges with the nicely shaped bonnet. Visually, it all hangs together remarkably well, especially with that sleek roofline. One of the pleasures of driving a new car is to see how everything works and compares with competitors. My test car came with 16” Alloy Wheels, Bluetooth complete with voice recognition and MP3 streaming, LED running lights, cruise and all the expected luxuries four adults would want to have. 

But, if like many buyers, you prefer the lofty driving position and added practicality of an SUV, Kia’s new fourth-generation Sportage makes a compelling argument as it climbs towards the top of the pile amongst its class competitors like the Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, and Ford Kuga. The Sportage offers exceptional ride and chassis control. Styling wise, it has a slight hint of its designer’s origins. Penned by ex-Audi design chief, Peter Schreyer, it exudes a premium feel and holds its head up high up against far more expensive brands. 

Inside the cabin, materials are soft touch and tactile. My car had an eight-inch touch-screen navigation and connectivity system. There’s also plenty of leg and headroom for the family. 

For all-year round grip, I’d recommend the 2.0 CRDi First Edition Auto, which in two-wheel drive mode sends up to 40 per cent of its power to the rear wheels in the event that the front wheels lose grip. 

It’s clear that Kia’s long-term vision – that long slog to gain that sought-after driveway appeal – has resulted in achieving an enviable brand image. Add to that the whopping seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, it’s a brand to thoroughly consider for your shortlist.