By Mike Torpey on 2019-09-29 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Kia Sportage 1.6
IN the age of the SUV it's probably little surprise that the top-selling model from fast-expanding Korean brand Kia is one of these very models.
The Sportage has certainly made an impact during its 26-year lifetime - to the point that one of these stylish vehicles is sold somewhere in the world every 69 seconds.
When you have a car this successful there's an understandable degree of pressure to stay ahead of the game, which is precisely what Kia has done with the latest revamped version.
So the Sportage now combines an updated design with fresh safety and infotainment initiatives, and has brought in some efficient new powertrains too.
In fact the car's advanced EcoDynamics+ 48V mild hybrid diesel is the first to be launched as part of the company's global electrification strategy.
It meant Kia became the first automotive manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild hybrid technology across its model range.
Nor does the progression stop there, as Kia intends to introduce 16 advanced powertrain vehicles by 2025, including five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five battery-electrics and, due next year, a new fuel-cell electric vehicle.
As part of the latest Sportage offering, the GT-Line model and the GT-Line S, get a more sporty flourish with enhancements like silver painted front and rear skid plates plus, more significantly, their own specially-tuned suspension characteristics.
The result is sharper, more athletic handling and a slightly firmer ride - a consequence of exhaustive testing on European roads - but without compromising comfort and stability.
In all, there are now 21 variants based on five engines, three gearboxes and six trim grades.
Our model featured Kia's turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine developing 174bhp and complete with a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
It makes for some lively performance from an SUV that's rewarding and agile to drive with terrific body control, though the downside is its fuel consumption - in our case an average 30.9 miles per gallon over 350 miles of mixed motoring.
What you get with the Sportage is a vehicle that's longer than before with rear seats that fold almost completely flat and a touch more head and leg room all round. The boot is also large enough for family paraphernalia.
Move inside and in an effort to ensure comfort for all journeys, Kia's development team focused on something called pad density for the seats at the same time as making them better at absorbing vibrations.
The completed job is a praiseworthy one. With a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in place, all models come with a reversing camera, with sensors included from grade ‘2' upwards.
Every car has 16-inch alloys, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights, electric windows, air con and a leather steering wheel as a minimum.
And all also get Android Auto with voice control, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth.
Prices are from Â£20,670 for a 1.6-litre GDi petrol model with six-speed manual gearbox in ‘1' trim grade, though pushing the boat out for the turbocharged GT-Line S automatic costs Â£32,120.
Kia Sportage 1.6 GT-Line
Mechanical: 174bhp, 1,591cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 37.2
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 174g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles
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