It is around eight years since I last spent any time with the Kia Sportage and this all-new model is almost unrecognisable in comparison.
First launched in the mid 90’s, the then utilitarian Sportage was a firm favourite with farmers and those who lived in rural areas thanks to its reliability.
It wasn’t until after 2010 that the Kia Sportage became a popular sight on the school run. That model looked great in comparison to its predecessor, and offered so much more. A restyle in 2016 kept the Kia as a popular choice for many buyers amidst a sea of SUV’s that have flooded the market in the last decade.
The cheaper feeling Nissan Qashqai has probably been the biggest seller in the segment, but for Kia and sister company Hyundai, their Sportage and Tucson models have offered stiff opposition to the likes of the Ford Kuga and Skoda’s Karoq in recent years.
Gaining such popularity and traction in the market, the Korean manufacturer has had to become an industry leader when it comes to design and innovation. There is no questioning what they have achieved, as I personally would not even glance at many of what were once ‘Premium German Brands’, if I were on the market for a new or reasonably fresh used car.
Launched this year, the Kia Sportage is now its fifth generation and with its futuristic styling, is better equipped and more efficient than ever.
Entry into Sportage ownership starts from £27,800 and begins with a 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine in level ‘2’ specification. The engine is turbocharged and comes paired to a six-speed manual transmission. The petrol engine develops 148bhp and 250Nm of torque and can accelerate to 60mph in 9.9 seconds, before achieving a top speed of 113mph. With CO2 emissions of 152g/km, the combined fuel economy works out at 42.2mpg.
The same petrol powertrain is also available with ‘GT-Line’ priced from £31,000 and ‘3’ specification price from £32,000, alongside a 1.6 T-GDi unit with seven-speed DCT and 48-volt mild hybrid technology. The MHEV petrol engine accelerates to 60mph in 9.3 seconds – 0.6 of a second faster than the manual alternative, although the top speed remains the same at 117mph. The official combined fuel economy figure is 44.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 146g/km.
Move up to ‘4’ specification and the Sportage is available exclusively with all-wheel-drive, 48-volt mild hybrid technology,a seven-speed DCT and a 148bhp 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol unit.The unit accelerates from 0-to-60mph in 9.4 seconds, with a top speed of 117mph. CO2 emissions are 158g/km, with a combined fuel economy figure of 40.4 mpg.
Topping the Sportage line-up is the ‘GT-Line S’ model as tested which is priced from £37,900, which is offered exclusively with the 148bhp 1.6-litre T-GDi 48-volt mild hybrid engine, four-wheel drive, and a seven-speed DCT. Official combined economy is rated at 40.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 158g/km. Acceleration to 60mph is completed in 9.4 seconds with a top speed of 117mph.
Full hybrid with both two- and all-wheel drive – the turbocharged 1.6-litre T-GDi hybrid powertrain produces maximum power of 226bhp and 350Nm of torque. Paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, buyers have the choice of front-wheel drive on ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’ iterations, and all-wheel drive on the flagship ‘GT Line S’ model. Acceleration to 60mph in 7.7 seconds (8.0 seconds for AWD) and a top speed of 120mph are just a couple of the benefits of Sportage Hybrid ownership, with fuel economy of 48.7mpg for 2WD variants and 44.1mpg for the AWD edition. CO2 emissions are 132g/km and 146g/km, respectively.
All PHEV models offer all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard, across ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’, ‘4’, and ‘GT-Line S’ grades.
Highlights of the Sportage ‘2’ include 17-inch alloy wheels, silver garnishes for the bumpers, upper front radiator grille, doors, rear skid plate and roof rack. Automatic headlight control and rain sensing wipers, electrically folding, adjustable and heated door mirrors with LED indicators, LED headlamps and daytime running lights.
Inside, there’s an electronic parking brake (EFB), electronic chromic mirror, electric windows all round, steering wheel controls for the audio system, and remote central locking with fold-away key. Sportage ‘2’ models are equipped with black premium cloth seats, a driver’s manual seat height adjuster, and leather steering wheel, with a metallic finish to the centre fascia and door garnishes.
Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth with music streaming are fitted as standard to all versions of the Sportage, together with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, six speakers and DAB radio for ‘2’ models. Front and rear parking sensors are bolstered by a reversing camera system that displays on the integrated touchscreen.
Drive mode select allows drivers to tailor the driving experience to their individual needs, and this is partnered with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with city, pedestrian, cyclist, and junction covering detection. There’s also Hill-start Assist Control, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Lane Following Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Multi-Collision Brake, Trailer Stability Assist, Downhill Brake Control.
The move up to ‘GT-Line’ specification brings a more dynamic appearance, including 19-inch alloy wheels (18-inch wheels on HEV variants), LED front fog lamps and rear combination lamps, rear privacy glass, a gloss black radiator grille, side sills and wheel arch body mouldings, body coloured door and radiator upper garnishes, and a chrome skid plate front and rear.
Climb into the cabin and ‘GT-Line’ models feature the 12.3-inch touchscreen display with navigation system and 4.2-inch instrument cluster, plush suede and leather upholstery, driver’s lumbar support, D-shaped sports leather steering wheel with perforated inserts and ‘GT-Line’ logo, black headlining, sports pedals, an aluminium pattern finish to the centre fascia and door garnishes, and an engine start/stop button with Smart Entry System.
Also included is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go functionality, Highway Driving Assist and paddle shifters are fitted to automatic variants, while cruise control and a speed limiter is provided for manual gearbox versions. Finally, there’s a seven-year subscription to Kia Connect (formerly UVO Connect) included for free.
The well-equipped Sportage ‘3’ takes all of the equipment of the ‘2’ grade as its starting point and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and LED front fog lamps. Inside there’s black cloth and faux leather upholstery, driver’s lumbar support, front power adjustable seats, including height adjuster, heated front and rear outer seats, heated steering wheel, engine start/stop button with Smart Entry System and an aluminium pattern finish for the centre fascia and door garnish.
Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go functionality, Highway Driving Assist and paddle shifters are fitted to automatic variants, while cruise control and a speed limiter is provided for manual gearbox versions. A 12.3-inch display with navigation system welcomes occupants, along with a 12.3-inch supervision colour cluster display, six audio speakers and DAB radio.
The Sportage ‘4’ is recognised by its dual LED adaptive headlamps, panorama sunroof, gloss black roof rack, radiator grille, side sill and wheel arch body mouldings, together with matt chrome door and radiator upper garnishes. While at the rear, the skid plate is finished in Hyper Silver and lighting comes from LED rear combination lamps.
For music connoisseurs, Sportage ‘4’ models gain a Harman Kardon premium audio system, along with a 15W wireless smartphone charger, 360-degree Around View Monitor, Blind-Spot View Monitor, Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist and Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, while on HEV editions, Remote Smart Parking Assist is included as standard. Completing the comprehensive list of equipment is ambient interior lighting, as well as LED lamps for the luggage area and overhead console.
Crowning the all-new Sportage range is the ‘GT-Line S’ variant, combining the sportier silhouette of the ‘GT-Line’ edition with generous equipment levels in line with grade ‘4’. This includes a gloss black radiator grille, side sills and wheel arch body mouldings, body coloured door and radiator upper garnishes and a chrome skid plate front and rear. Uniquely, the ‘GT-Line S’ model has the option of a black two-tone roof, accentuating the car’s sporty profile and highlighting the dynamic C-pillar.
Additionally, front occupants benefit from standard 10-way driver and 8-way passenger electrically adjustable front seats, with ventilation, and a smart powered tailgate. With the Sportage’s Smart Key in the driver’s pocket as they approach the rear of the vehicle, the system recognises the key and opens the tailgate automatically, allowing easy and convenient access to the boot; a boon for those whose hands are full.