Sportage success

soars

Kia Sportage, 2022, front
Kia Sportage, 2022, side
Kia Sportage, 2022, rear
Kia Sportage, 2022, front
Kia Sportage, 2022, rear, action
Kia Sportage, 2022, interior
Kia Sportage, 2022, hybrid engine
Kia Sportage, 2022, rear seats
Kia Sportage, 2022, display screen
Kia Sportage, 2022, instrument panel
Kia Sportage, 2022, centre console controls
Kia Sportage, 2022, instrument panel, blind spot camera display
Kia Sportage, 2022, boot

KIA has become Britain's favourite car brand, topping the sales charts in January with the Sportage SUV leading the way.

The car notched up 3,458 sales in the first month of the year putting it ahead of the likes of the Ford Puma, the MINI and Vauxhall Corsa as the Korean car maker topped the pile for the first time.

Since it arrived in the UK in 1991 the brand has grown from making cheap and cheerful models to become a serious global automotive player and now the Sportage is entering its fifth generation.

It has become Kia's top seller in Britain with almost a third of a million being sold since the first model arrived back in 1995.

The last version was a gamechanger accounting for almost 200,000 sales and now the new Sportage looks set to continue that success.

Very much a car of our time it is powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines and with mild-hybrid or full hybrid electrified powertrains there is something for every taste.

All that is missing is a fully electric option but a plug-in hybrid version is on the way and due for release in April.

Still built in Slovakia the new car is ‘Euro only' and slightly smaller than the model Kia will be selling elsewhere in the world.

That's an indication of the importance Kia places on the European market and the UK in particular.

However, prices are up by some margin and the 18 model new line up starts from £26,745 and tops out at £40,245.

The plug-in hybrid will be even more with four models on offer priced from £38,395 to £43,795.

Nevertheless the Sportage remains competitive in the SUV market and it has strong looks that are instantly Kia.

But it is on the inside where there have been quantum leaps not only in design but also in technology.

Many of the features have come from Kia's new electric EV6 model and include the likes of full connectivity on two giant screens that run almost the entire length of the dashboard.

Then there are pieces of kit such as an automatic parking brake that is so useful when driving in town and a sophisticated camera display in the instrument panel that shows what's going on in the driver's blind spot when the indicators are operated.

More conventional touches range from coat hooks in the back of the front seat and a good sized boot that can run from 590 to 1,780 litres - an increase of almost 100 litres over the previous model with all seats in use.

Prices reflect the advances that Kia has made and the 22 model range now runs from £26,745 to £43,795 for the soon-to-arrive top of the pile plug-in hybrid.

Trim levels include Kia's familiar 2, 3 and 4 grade levels with GT Line and GT Line S sitting higher up the specification manifest while there is the choice of two and four-wheel-drive set ups and automatic or manual transmissions.

We sampled GT-Line and GT-Line S versions with full hybrid and mild hybrid powertrains and in both normal and 4x4 set ups.

All use 1.6-litre petrol engines for primary power with the full hybrid version using an electric motor to boost power to 226bhp.

The 48-volt mild-hybrid version develops 148bhp resulting in performance of 9.4 seconds 0 to 62mph with a top speed of 117mph. The full hybrid is quicker with an acceleration time of 7.7 seconds and tops out at 120mph.

The main difference between the two is that the full hybrid can run purely on its electric motor for short distances resulting in better economy of 48.7 miles to the gallon compared to 40.4 for the mild hybrid.

Respective emissions are 132g/km and 158g/km and both versions came with automatic boxes - seven-speed on the mild hybrid and six for the full.

The most fuel efficient Sportages remain those with a diesel engine which are claimed to be capable of up to 53.3mpg and are priced from £27,745 but that is before the plug-in arrives in April.

But that looks as green as the new Sportage is going to get with the absence of a fully electric version.

On the road - as before - the Sportage is a very competent all-rounder and with variable drive modes to back up the powertrains it can handle a wide range of terrains and conditions.

Bigger all round than the previous model - it is almost an inch longer - it has a towing limit of 1.65 tonnes which adds to its practicality.

In every way Sportage has grown up to be a very modern SUV - an attribute that has helped grow its popularity to astonishing levels in the UK.

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