THE Sportage SUV has helped to transform Kia into an important global player and the fifth generation model was launched in the UK early in 2022.
It has a bold, sharp ultra-modern look that helps it stand out from its rivals and it has been improved in just about every area.
Apart from its great looks there is now more room for passengers, a bigger boot, a smart new infotainment system and a choice of efficient hybrid engines, including plug-in technology for the first time.
It is amazing to think that the Sportage made its debut back in 1995 and it has notched-up a third of a million sales since then. The outgoing fourth generation model was the most successful and with 200,000 sales is a common sight on our roads.
Designed with European modes in mind, the Sportage is built in Slovakia and it is slightly larger than the car it replaces.
As you would expect from Kia the model represents good value for money but prices are up substantially and the 18 model line now starts from £26,745 and goes all the way up to £40,245.
The plug-in hybrid version which arrived in April is even more expensive with prices between £38,395 to £43,795.
The new car's great looks will keep it a firm favourite in the SUV market but things are even more dramatic inside with major improvements in materials and technology.
Two giant screens which are joined to look like one dominate the dashboard and deliver features that you would only expect from a much more expensive premium brand including a sophisticated camera display on the panel which shows up blind spots when the indicators are on.
There is now a useful automatic parking brake, wireless charging and improved space for up to five adults while the boot can handle 590 litres going up to 1,780 litres with the rear seats collapsed.
Buyers have plenty of choice from Kia's familiar 2, 3 and 4 trim levels with GT Line and GT Line S sitting at the top of the range. You can also choose between two and four-wheel-drive and automatic or manual transmission. Kia has also kept a diesel choice available starting at £27,745.
I sampled the GT-Line model with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and automatic transmission which combined with the electric motor is good for 226 bhp.
This results in a 7.7 second sprint to 62mph and a top speed of 120mph. It can run for short distances on electric power and the result is better economy and lower emissions.
This full hybrid version can run on electric power only for short distances resulting in better economy with an average 48.7 miles to the gallon.
When it comes to performance, the new Sportage delivers the goods with good acceleration through the automatic gearbox and paddles to change gear manually if you want more fun
The steering is sharp and delivers plenty feedback and drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport can alter the car's characteristics to suit your taste. You can also select the type of information you want to display on the giant screen.
The Sportage provides bags of grip on twisting roads and it cruises quietly and effortlessly at 70mph on motorways too.
I had an excellent view from the elevated comfortable seating position and there is good all-round visibility.
It may be a big car but the Sportage is agile and thanks to its parking aids and cameras it is also easy to handle and park in town centres.