Living with a Kia Sportage: Second report

Since it arrived I had only had the chance to be a passenger in the Kia, which was a suitably pleasant experience as far as sitting in a car travelling up and down the UK motorway network goes. So imagine my delight when I was handed the keys to the Sportage and told to head for Maranello to take part in this year's Bangers4BEN rally. It was the same delight I had to try to disguise as the rest of the participants rolled on to the ferry at Dover, knowing that the next 2,000 miles would be in comfort and style.

The Kia had already proven its worth getting the team around on home soil, but when faced with the long, seemingly endless French roads, it really began to excel. With cruise control selected, the Kia effortlessly ate up the miles. The Sportage proved the ideal car for the journey, big and comfy with a definite premium feel in the cabin and a sat nav that you don't need a degree to operate. The drive was a little dull, but the Kia was great and must have looked fantastic as several roadside cameras decided to take a picture as we made our way across France, into Switzerland and onwards.

It was day 3 that really made the Kia stand out. This was the day that I tackled the most beautifully terrifying drive of my life – the Furka Pass. Reaching almost 8,000 feet above sea level, this is the iconic alpine pass from the movie Goldfinger. Equally ranked as one of the best driving roads and most dangerous routes in the world, the Furka Pass was to give the Kia one hell of a challenge. It was faced with ridiculously steep climbs, hairpin bends and few passing spots, all the while with a very nervous driver behind the wheel. It coped admirably though, unlike the driver.

For a big lump the handling was tight and responsive, the engine and gearbox seamlessly delivering as we powered up into the Alps, and – most importantly – it had very good brakes. It has to be said that the rest of the rally participants found the drive a bit more Driving Miss Daisy than Goldfinger, but I don't bounce well and with the Swiss approach to a safety barrier sometimes being no more than a kerb, it was all my nerves would take. In all, an awesome drive where the Kia did us proud – though I'm not sure I returned the favour!

Article written by Andy Entwistle