The biggest segment in the Irish car market is the C SUV with the Hyundai Tucson the biggest seller but its sister car from KIA should pose a serious treat to its dominance. The new European-built KIA Sportage has come a long way since the first generation in 1993. Sportage gets fresh exterior styling that has a premium look, while inside, the dash gets a vast widescreen display housing, the likes of which we’ve only see in new Merc’s and new ‘i’ BMWs.
The new Sportage has great on street presence. It is bigger in all dimensions than the 2018 car it replaces. At 4.515m long the Sportage is 15mm loner than the Tucson, the same width and 5mm lower than its stable mate. The new bodywork sees a heavily revised front end with a new version of the fames tiger-nose grille and lights that add width to the five seater. Boomerang LED DLRs feature and the latest adaptive headlights are available too and we can test are brilliant in every sense of the word. The flanks get some new flashings and colour options, larger alloys and chunky looking wheel arches, but it is the rear that sees a big change. The tailgate and lighting layout gets similar design/styling treatment as seen on the stunning KIA EV6 electric car. In simple terms the new Sportage has a greater degree of sophistication over the outgoing model.
The cabin is thoroughly modern and features nice flush surfacing and switch gear. The climate/infotainment controls appear in the same area via a touch of a button (as with the EV 6). Digital displays are the order of the day and of course there is a smart phone app too that highlights the greater degree of connectivity in the new SUV. Charging is made easy with multiple options and points. There is a similar amount of space as before but the boot gets a boost with an additional 88 litres (max) that in the petrol version sees an increase from 503 litres to 591 litres. Fold the seats in the same car and there is up to 1,780 litres of cargo area available. Other power sources impact on boot space e.g. the diesel MHEV (mild hybrid) has 526 litres of boot space and the plug in hybrid (PHEV) 540 litres. The 40/20/40 rear seats fold flat via a boot mounted lever. The roller load cover can also stow in the car under the boot floor. The rear head-restraints feature a coat hanger and there are also shopping hooks on the front seat backs.
The Sportage comes in a variety of power sources with only a full electric version missing from the line-up. The new hybrid (HEV from €42,000 K3 grade) is a welcome addition to the range as it delivers a very smooth driving experience coupled with its automatic ‘Dial’ drive selector transmission and quiet petrol engine. This is the best version for low mileage urban use. For us the PHEV Sportage, that is due in the middle of the year, will be the most desirable power source. It has lots of power, zero emissions driving ability (via its 13.8kWh rechargeable battery) and a CO2 emissions figure of just 31g.
We’ve been testing the diesel GT Line mainly this week and found the fuel consumption refreshingly low. The manual 1.6 litre diesel has a 115hp entry point output with a 136hp MHEV (mild hybrid) variant in the GT Line. The diesel manages to deliver a near vibration free experience to the driver and praise must go to the engineers who have insulated the cabin very from the outside world. The Sportage feels and drives with a high level of refinement. Should things get sticky there is KIA’s ‘Drivewise’ suite of driving and safety aids e.g. intelligent speed limiter, smart navigation based cruise control, highway driving assist, forward junction assist and a blind spot warning system.
Pricing starts in the mid thirties and the standard equipment level is very good and as you rise up the levels is thoroughly comprehensive. The Sportage follows the traditional KIA grades name structure (e.g. K2, K3, K4 and GT Line). The K3 grade offers excellent value for money including USBs mounted in the side bolsters of the front seats for rear seat passengers and heated rear seats too!
Kia Ireland is growing steadily and so far this year is looking good. The new Sportage will exceed existing customers expectations and perhaps conquest quite a few buyers from other brands. We like the Sportage a lot.