Kia’s Sportage SUV is arguably the most important car in the Korean brand’s range. The new Sportage has impressive new styling and enhanced engine performance as Michael Moroney found during his recent test drive.
You just have to be impressed with the sharp and modern design of the new fifth generation Kia Sportage. The Korean brand has come a long way since the first Sportage models appeared in Ireland. The brand identify has flourished helped by the success of the Sportage, which has been Kia’s best-selling model for the past 10 years.
Getting the specification of the new Sportage right has been important for Kia, especially as the competition has exploded since the early days of the Sportage. Kia is now offering petrol and diesel options as well as a new mild hybrid version, with hints of an electric version on the way.
Most of all, you will be struck by the impressive styling of the new Sportage. The design lines are modern and sharp in a clean-cut way, while the SUV stance is retained as is its Kia identify coupled with the brand’s new logo.
The obvious competitor for the new Sportage is the somewhat related Hyundai Tucson. The Tucson has been a best-seller in its own right. Both models have a lot in common, and that heritage has been part of their joint success.
The design features differ between the Sportage and Tucson, they are both modern and individual, giving a styling choice that’s always personal. My preference is for the sharper lines of the Sportage, the more open interior styling and both comments come after only a short drive of the competitor Tucson.
Under the skin there are many technical similarities. The test Kia that I drove was the mild hybrid diesel version in GT specification, which has some limited additional fuel saving features coupled with a very economical 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine.
This was coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox that’s smooth and easy to use. The sixth gear seemed to restrict the motorway cruising speed to an extent that driving at the maximum motorway speed of 120km/hr meant pushing the engine revs over the 2,000rpm sweet spot.
That compromised my fuel economy figures to some extent and resulted in not achieving the theoretical range of over 1,000km on a full 52 litre fuel tank. In general, the fuel economy performance is impressive, and my driving style left me about 15% off the rated economy level, which I consider very acceptable giving my variety of driving conditions.
In comfort terms, this new Sportage is a relaxing car to drive. The controls are clear, and I found them easy to get comfortable with. The steering wheel is particularly good to touch and use with multiple control functions included. Seat adjustment is easy while the rear seats are easily folded to give a larger load space and I quickly put this to the test.
The boot space is marginally larger than that of the Hyundai Tucson at 571 litres and extending to 1760 litres with the rear seats folded. There is no spare wheel included. The car’s maximum towing ability at 1.95 tonnes is also at the higher end of this market group.
The specification for the entry level K2 models is impressive. They come with 17” alloys, LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, auto dimming rear view mirror, cruise control with speed limiter, lane keep assist, lane follow assist and forward collision avoidance.
This new Sportage does not yet have a Euro NCAP test rating but given that specification you can expect that it is in the five-star grouping. This new Sportage has enhanced safety restraint and structure systems, including driver airbag, passenger airbag, side curtain airbags, front-seat centre airbag and low-side airbags.
Kia is also offering a new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology system, also known as DriveWise, for the new Sportage. The system claims to avoid potential hazards, fully protecting occupants and other road users on every journey. The DriveWise package comes with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist System with Junction Turning functionality which claims to help avoid collisions with oncoming cars, pedestrians and bicycles when turning left or right at junctions.
Entry prices for the new Kia Sportage start at €35,500 which is a very significant price increase over the previous model compared with a year ago. There is little to separate the Sportage over the Tucson in terms of pricing, so the decision is based on styling, trade-in values and local availability.
The new diesel mild hybrid version of the Sportage comes with a €7,000 price lift and there are only modest benefits in terms of improved fuel economy. That’s why the base model, with its high specification is the most cost-effective Sportage choice.
|Kia Sportage Mild Hybrid Diesel – specifications|
|0 – 100km/hr||11.4 seconds|
|Economy (WLTP)||20.8km/litre (4.8/100km or 59mpg)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||52 litres|
|Road Tax Rate||€200|
|Main Service||20,000km/12 months|
|Euro NCAP Rating||NA|
|Luggage Capacity||571 litres/1760 litres|