WITH a top award already under its belt Kia is turning on the style with its all-new Sportage SUV.
Dressed to impress, the Korean brand's top seller in the UK has been given fresh appeal as it enters its fourth generation.
Built in Europe at Kia's factory in Slovakia the Sportage accounted for almost a third of the company's record sales of 78,000 cars in Britain last year.
The new model takes the sharp looks of the current Sportage up a notch and targets an audience which wants something snazzy.
Priced from Â£17,995 to Â£31,495 the new Sportage is Kia's answer to an array of vehicles in the booming crossover and SUV market ranging from the Nissan Qashqai to the likes of the Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan.
As such, form is as important as function and Kia is out to sway those who want to cut a dash with a sporty looking GT-Line model powered by a new 1.6-litre turbo engine.
With extra body kit such as pronounced sills, extended wheel arches and skid plates front and back the nose of the GT-Line is dominated by large ‘ice cube' LED fog lamps giving the Sportage added presence on the road.
Inside it is decked out in two-tone leather trim and a flat bottomed steering wheel complete with a GT-Line logo to bring a touch of sportiness to an SUV.
But it is on the road where it comes into its own and while all versions of the new Sportage have improved handling and performance, the GT-Line comes with even stiffer suspension, sharper steering and added firepower from its turbo engine.
It is boosted to 174bhp and as a six-speed manual can accelerate briskly from 0 to 60 in 9.2 seconds. Go for one fitted with Kia's equally new DCT semi-automatic transmission and it is a whole half second quicker.
With all-wheel-drive - the basic petrol and diesel versions of the new Sportage are front-wheel driven - the GT-Line sits in the middle of the line up and costs from Â£24,350 for the manual or Â£25,650 for the DCT.
Kia claims a top speed of 126mph making the GT-Line the quickest of the new Sportage range with an official fuel return for the manual of 37.2mpg and emissions of 177g/km.
Giving the GT-Line a workout around some mountain roads in the South of France it handled well - a nice compromise for an SUV and pleasantly economical returning 34 to the gallon - not far off the mark and impressive given the conditions.
The cabin of the new Sportage is smarter and roomier than before with the dash nicely dressed up with a central colour touchscreen.
Sat nav, black gloss trim inserts and 19-inch alloys come as standard and so do driving aids such as lane departure warning.
Passenger space in the back is above average and with the new model slightly longer than before boot space is now 491 litres - and that's with a real spare wheel. Maximum capacity with rear seats folded is 1,480 litres.
Other features include heated seats front and back, a tailgate spoiler and twin exhausts making the GT-Line a good looker all round.
A 2.0-litre diesel engine is also available in the GT-Line finish costing £1,500 and although more economical it is not as lively as the turbo.
In the new Sportage line up the GT-Line is the standout model when it comes to looks and that's been recognised with the car receiving an IF Award for 2016 - one of Europe's most prestigious design honours.