Ben goes off the beaten path to suggest your budget off-roading vehicle of choice should really be a Mk1 Kia Sportage. Yes, really.

Merry Shednesday. The recent spot of rain got me thinking about motors with some added grip and off-road ability. I was initially enticed by the likes of Daihatsu, Suzuki and Mitsubishi, but then something caught my eye: a Kia.

You can see why from this image of the actual Mk1 Kia Sportage for sale. This isn’t the soft-roader third-generation Sportage (what some may call a ‘Chelsea tractor’) but the more rugged and functional first-generation model.

1999 Kia Sportage off roading

How can Clark Kent be Superman?!

This sort of punishment might seem impossible when you look at the history of the Mk1 Kia Sportage. It was twice recalled for rear wheels dismounting while being driven, and scored the lowest possible result in Australian ANCAP crash tests.

During the tests, seat belts failed and the vehicle structure collapsed. So why is our car so sturdy? It may have something to do with its German build quality, or maybe it has been well looked after and upgraded. Alternatively, its Mazda and Ford roots have finally paid dividends. Whatever the case, here are some more pics of it in all its glory:

1999 Kia Sportage getting muddy

Continuing the reliability thread, the car has an MOT until next year with nothing major flagged on the last test. What are the catches? Well, it’s petrol, so it won't have the same torque as a diesel. It does have a manual box, though, with working selectable 2x4 or full 4x4.

It does, however, have a big dent in the rear passenger door, and some of the wing looks to be missing. But at £900 I wouldn’t let that put you off. It’s in Welling, if you want to have a proper nose around ahead of some off-roading action. Here is the car. Over to Gav.

What does PetrolBlog think?

Kia Sportage Karmann Sport SE

Ben's decision to feature the Mk1 Kia Sportage is rather timely, as I've been thinking about the Karmann Sport. Hey, I think about different things to other people. If you wanted to show somebody a car that defines the 1990s, this has to be it. It's the Sporty Spice of 4x4s. If you wait a while, it'll release a duet with Bryan Adams.

Please forgive me for featuring the Karmann Sport, I just can't stop this thing Ben started. Karmann built the Sportage for Europe, so the special edition was a fitting tribute. Just 250 numbered examples were built, although Kia released a Karmann Sport SE in 1997.

Bryan Adams is a Land Rover guy, so he won't approve of Ben's Sportage, but I rather like it. I'll leave it to the vendor to have the last say: ‘It's MOTed and ready to go. I've used it six times at pay and play days, and it's been the bo**ocks.’ Well, quite.

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