New Kia Sportage – Launch Review
There’s no doubt Kia has come a long way in the last decade, thanks in no small part to producing an ever-improving range of cars, all backed by the reassurance of a 7-year warranty.
Such is the increasing popularity of the cars that the brand topped the UK sales charts last month, selling 10,504 units. Impressive stuff. One of the undoubted stars of the range has been its mid-size SUV, the Sportage, now available to buy in its all-new fifth generation form.
The UK Media Launch took place last week in Buckinghamshire and with another event in Scotland to cover, my week on the road saw me cover over eight hundred miles.
The UK first saw the Sportage in 1995 and it has come a long way since, the latest model being a bespoke offering, designed and developed especially for the European market. We’re a demanding lot.
Sportage is the biggest seller for the Korean brand not only in the UK, but in Europe and globally too, so its importance cannot be underestimated.
In order to cater for all needs, Kia are continuing to offer a range of diesel and petrol engines. However most interesting are the mild hybrid and full hybrid models, though a plug-in hybrid will follow shortly, ideal for those who have access to home charging.
Five model grades are available – ‘2’, ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’. All are well equipped with a rather swish twin 12.3-inch touchscreen and curved panoramic display standard on most models. Expect to find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all cars.
Built on Kia’s brand-new N3 architecture, the Sportage has a striking new look, especially when viewed from the front. You are unlikely to mistake the ‘tiger nose’ for anything else. I rather like it. Exterior dimensions have increased just a tad, the aim being to increase cabin space.
Four different snazzy alloy wheel designs are available and with ten exterior colours to choose from, the Sportage of your dreams is just a click of the mouse away on the online configurator.
The Sportage interior is notable for the use of quality materials, now up there with the best premium manufacturers. And yes, headroom and legroom have increased, so there’s plenty of room for four or five to travel in a good deal of comfort.
The boot is a generous 591-litres, and should you desire more load carrying capacity, lowering the 40:20:40 split rear seat in its entirety will increase this to 1,780-litres.
The new Sportage comes equipped with a raft on safety equipment, which now includes Forward Collision Avoidance Assist that is capable of sensing both pedestrians and cyclists. A good idea as recent Highway Code amendments have given both much more status on our roads.
I chose to test both the mild hybrid and full hybrid models. Driven briskly over the two hours mixed test route, I was a tad disappointed with the economy of the mild hybrid, the 34mpg readout being nothing to write home about.
The full hybrid easily added 10mpg to that figure and later, when gently pottering about, 50mpg was within reach. Both models are fitted with an automatic gearbox, making driving in all conditions exceptionally easy. I cannot see why anyone would now wish to change gears themselves on anything other than an out and out sports car.
I am not sure anyone considering a Sportage as their next family car will be overly concerned with the car’s dynamic qualities. However, on some of the twisty sections of the test route, both cars acquitted themselves rather well. Safe and secure would best sum it up.
Ride comfort was mostly good, though I would steer clear of the largest 19-inch alloy wheels if your local authority takes a rather lackadaisical approach to pothole repairs.
Motorway driving was a relaxed affair, with wind and road noise well contained and all the while I was pleasantly relaxed in the comfortable driver’s seat, a little light music emanating from the stereo. The latter was a premium Harmon Kardon unit in my top spec test car.
Prices for the new Sportage start from £26,745, rising to £38,645 for the top GT-Line S Hybrid that I favoured. A push upmarket, but the car is quite able to compete with the best on sale.
I would choose the full hybrid drivetrain, without a doubt, and then the trim that best suits your needs.
You will then have a capable family car with space aplenty for passengers and luggage, all wrapped up in a distinctive and attractive bodyshell.
'Sportage - five generations'
And let us not forget the ownership experience, likely to be second to none. A comprehensive seven-year warranty, first rate build quality and an excellent dealer network are worthy of note.
Talk to them about the range of affordable finance and if you sign on the dotted line, I am told Kia does have a supply of new vehicles ready for UK customers. So hopefully no long wait to take delivery as is the case with so many other manufacturers, struggling with a shortage of parts.
Sportage, the fifth generation, another success story without a doubt.
Kia Sportage 1.6 GT-Line S HEV
Price £38,645 on the road
226bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine
1.49kWh Li-ion polymer battery
Six speed automatic transmission
0-60mph in 7.7 seconds
Top speed 120mph
Combined economy 48.7mpg
Emissions 132g/km CO2
Towing limit (braked) 1,650kg