The car’s advanced all-new EcoDynamics+ 48V diesel mild-hybrid powertrain is the first to be launched as part of Kia’s global powertrain electrification strategy. With this development, Kia becomes the first manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology across its model line-up. Kia will launch 16 advanced powertrain vehicles by 2025, including five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five battery-electric vehicles and, in 2020, a new fuel-cell electric vehicle.
More than 131,000 examples of the Sportage were purchased by European customers in 2017, representing a quarter of the brand’s total European sales. In the UK market, almost 40,000 buyers chose the Sportage last year. One Sportage was sold every 69 seconds globally in 2017, making it Kia’s international best-seller. The five-millionth Sportage was built in March 2018, three months into the car’s 25th year on sale, following its introduction in 1993. The Sportage for Europe is produced at Kia’s manufacturing facility in Žilina, Slovakia.
An evolution of Kia design
The original design of the fourth-generation Sportage was led by Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, with input from the company’s design centres in Namyang, Korea and Irvine, California. The three studios have modernised the look of the Sportage, which features a range of updates to its sporty exterior design. Changes extend to ‘GT-Line’ models, which feature a series of unique upgrades compared to other trim grades.
There is a redesigned front bumper with new fog lamp housings, and new gloss black or bright chrome inserts leading from the fog lamps into the lower air intake. The Sportage is also now available with an evolved version of its ‘tiger-nose’ grille, with new gloss black or matt black grille. New full-LED headlamps with four-point LED daytime running lights and redesigned fog lamps also provide maximum visibility and enhance the SUV’s light signature for a more modern appearance. Silver painted front and rear skid plates are fitted to ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ models.
At the rear, the slim combination lamps retain their horizontal shape, with the revised design featuring a new C-shaped LED light signature. The reversing lamp is integrated into the new rear bumper with longer reflectors positioned below and is now finished with a flash of chrome across its base.
In profile, the upgraded model is available with new 16-, 17- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs, and some versions have the sill trim finished in chrome. Five new paint colours are available on the new Sportage, including new shades of silver, grey, blue, and copper.
Changes to ‘GT-Line’ include a new design gloss black radiator grille, gloss black and silver skid plates, and dark chrome inserts on the front bumper, the side sills and rear tailgate. The unique 19-inch alloy wheels of the ‘GT-Line’ have been redesigned, and all models are fitted with a dual exhaust rear valance and revised ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamp designs.
A drag co-efficient of 0.33 Cd remains unchanged following the updates to the SUV’s exterior design. While its length increases up 5mm, dimensions and profile remain largely the same (4,485mm long, 1,855mm wide, 1,635mm tall, with a 2,670mm wheelbase). The ‘GT-Line’ model is 10mm longer, at 4,495mm, due to its unique bumper design.
While the layout of the cabin is retained, a series of minor upgrades further engender a sense of modernity. The upgraded model is equipped with a new steering wheel and revised driver instrument cluster, while ‘GT-Line’ models are available with new black leather seat trim with red accents. The design of the ventilation and air conditioning controls at the centre of the dashboard have also been revised, with new bezels around the dials adding further clarity to the dashboard layout.
Updated powertrains, all meeting Euro 6d TEMP emissions regulations
The line-up of petrol engines remains the same in the upgraded Sportage, though with minor modifications to emissions, with buyers able to choose between two powerplants. Both petrol engines are direct-injection (GDi) 1.6-litre units from Kia's Gamma family are now fitted with new particulate filters to further reduce harmful emissions, ensuring full compliance with the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard. The naturally-aspirated 130bhp 1.6-litre GDi engine offers a torque output of 161Nm, and CO2 emissions from 162g/km.
In the Sportage, the T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct injection) engine develops 174bhp at 5,500rpm, while maximum torque is 265Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm. The result is instantaneous response to throttle inputs and rapid acceleration without interruption. It was developed entirely in-house by Kia engineers at the Namyang research and development centre in Korea, with input from Kia's European technical centre in Frankfurt. It accelerates the Sportage from 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds (2WD manual) or an even faster 8.8 seconds with the AWD 7DCT. For the 1.6 T-GDi engine, CO2 emissions are as low as 173g/km, with fuel economy up to 39.2mpg (combined). Sportage models equipped with the T-GDi engine are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) on all-wheel drive models.
EcoDynamics+ delivers Kia’s first mild hybrid diesel powertrain
The Sportage now offers a wider range of diesel engines, including Kia’s ‘EcoDynamics+’ 2.0-litre ‘R’ diesel mild-hybrid powertrain and 1.6-litre ‘U3’ diesel engine.
EcoDynamics+ has been engineered to deliver greater efficiency from internal combustion engines on the road, by using electric power delivered and recuperated seamlessly. In the Sportage, the system supplements acceleration with power from a compact 0.44 kWh 48-volt lithium-ion battery, and extends engine ‘off time’ with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG) unit. The MHSG is connected by belt to the engine’s crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between ‘motor’ and ‘generator’ modes.
In ‘motor’ mode the battery is discharged under acceleration, providing up power assistance to the engine, to reduce engine load and emissions. Under deceleration – when braking, or coasting towards a junction or downhill – the MHSG switches to ‘generator’ mode, recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery on-the-go. An advanced Electronic Control Unit (ECU) calculates the most efficient use of available energy and adjusts accordingly, taking into account the amount of charge remaining in the car’s batteries.
The battery and MHSG also support a new ‘Moving Stop & Start’ function. If the battery has sufficient charge, the combustion engine turns off automatically during in-gear deceleration and braking. The MHSG seamlessly re-ignites the engine when the driver presses the throttle pedal.
The compact nature of the mild-hybrid powertrain made it relatively straightforward to integrate into the Sportage’s existing architecture. The 48-volt battery is located beneath the boot floor, minimising the impact on practicality. Because the MHSG integrates directly with the engine, driving the crankshaft via a belt, there was little need to repackage the engine bay.
Equipped with Kia’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology, the EcoDynamics+ powertrain can reduce CO2 emissions by up to four per cent on the Worldwide-harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and up to seven per cent on the reconverted New European Driving Cycle 2.0.
The EcoDynamics+ powertrain is paired with an all-wheel drive system, transmitting power via a newly-adopted eight-speed automatic transmission.
All-new ‘U3’ diesel engine
The Sportage’s existing 1.7-litre CRDi (Common-Rail Direct injection) diesel engine has been replaced with Kia’s efficient 1.6-litre ‘U3’ CRDi engine. The new 1.6-litre diesel engine produces 114 or 134bhp, with emissions rated from 130g/km for 114bhp models, and 126g/km for higher-powered models (combined, WLTP, converted back to NEDC 2.0). Driving the front wheels via six-speed manual transmission as standard, 134bhp models are also available with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). The ‘U3’ engine features SCR active emissions control technology to regulate NOx and diesel particulate matter.
Comfort built in as standard
The Kia Sportage rides on fully independent front and rear suspension, carried over unchanged for the updated model. Delivering a comfortable ride and superior damping over poor road surfaces, the chassis is nevertheless tuned to offer intuitive and engaging handling. ‘GT-Line’ models feature their own specially-tuned suspension characteristics, endowing the Sportage with sharper, more athletic handling and a slightly firmer ride – crucially, without compromising the SUV’s fundamental comfort and stability. The suspension characteristics for the Sportage ‘GT-Line’ were tested and fine-tuned on a variety of European roads, with European drivers in mind.
The fourth-generation Sportage is available as standard with Kia’s ‘R-MDPS’ rack-mounted electric motor-driven power steering. The R-MDPS system delivers quick responses and enhanced steering feel, placing the Sportage among the most agile models in the compact SUV class. The Sportage is fitted as standard with a column-mounted power steering system, which delivers linear responses to driver inputs and maximum stability and confidence at the wheel.
The Sportage is equipped with 305 mm ventilated disc brakes at the front and 302 mm solid disc brakes at the rear.
Cutting-edge safety systems
A number of advanced driver assistance systems are offered on the Sportage, all designed to minimise the possibility of an accident. In certain models these complement the comprehensive active and passive safety features fitted to every version. As a result of the measures taken first to prevent accidents and then to mitigate against the effects of them if they are unavoidable, the Sportage has earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. The Sportage was commended for its ability to protect passengers of all statures in all seats, faring especially well in a side-on impact with a pole, and it scored 71 per cent for its active safety assist technologies.
All models from grade ‘2’ have Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) to alert a tired driver who may be about to stray into the path of a vehicle approaching from behind; High Beam Assist (HBA) to switch between full and dipped beam automatically when there are other vehicles in their vicinity on unlit roads; and Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF) within the instrument cluster.
All models have a reversing camera integrated into the 7- or 8-inch touchscreen, and reversing sensors are standard on grade ‘2’ and above. Front parking sensors are included on ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ versions and a 360-degree Around View Monitor delivers a helicopter-style view from above the vehicle to aid manoeuvring, and is fitted to all ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’ models.
All versions have Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS), so that the car comes to rest in the shortest possible distance in an emergency, and with maximum retardation, regardless of the pressure applied to the pedal by the driver. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) prevent the car from skidding in corners or when accelerating on surfaces with different levels of grip between left and right. Hill-start Assist holds the car for two seconds when setting off on inclines to prevent it rolling backwards.
Downhill Brake Control limits the car's speed when travelling down steep or slippery off-road inclines, preventing the need for the driver to cover the brake pedal and risk losing traction. It maintains a steady speed of 5mph. And all versions have Trailer Stability Assist, which uses the ABS, ESC and VSM systems to counter-act the possibility of a caravan or trailer snaking in high winds or when the Sportage is being driven at too high a speed.
Cruise control is available on grade ‘1’, while cruise control with a speed limiter is available from grade ‘2’ onwards, with an advanced adaptive cruise control system fitted to ‘GT-Line S’ models. Emergency Stop Signalling flashes the high-level brake light in an emergency stop to warn the drivers of following vehicles, and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) ensures the driver is given advance notice of a loss of pressure long before it could lead to sudden deflation.
There are six airbags (twin front, front side and side curtain) as standard. Front seat-belt pre-tensioners reduce the forces on the wearer’s chest in a collision, and ISOFIX top tethers and anchors are fitted to allow child seats to be mounted. A passenger airbag cut-off switch is standard to permit a rear-facing child seat to be carried in the front of the car. Speed-sensing automatic door locks ensure the security of all passengers. They are automatically disabled in the event of an accident.
The body shell of the Sportage is made up of 51 per cent Advanced High-strength Steel, which affords greater protection by better withstanding impacts and dissipating any crash energy through carefully designed load paths away from the passenger cell.
The upgraded Sportage adopts a series of Kia’s latest advanced driving assistance and infotainment systems, building on its reputation for high occupant safety and high-tech convenience.
The latest driver assist technologies available in the Sportage include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, an Around View Monitor for easier parking manoeuvres, and Driver Attention Warning (DAW), available from grade ‘2’ upwards, to combat fatigue and inattentiveness at the wheel. Sportage buyers have access to a wide array of existing driver assist systems. These include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian detection and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) on ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’, ‘GT-Line S’ models, while Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF) are fitted to all versions grade ‘2’ and above.
Every Sportage is equipped as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), which maximises stability when braking and cornering by controlling the car’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) if it detects a loss of traction. The Sportage is also fitted with driver and front passenger airbags, first-row side airbags, and first- and second-row curtain airbags.
The infotainment systems in the Sportage have been upgraded on the Sportage. Depending on grade there is either a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, or satellite navigation system, or a new ‘frameless’ 8.0-inch system, each with DAB digital radio. All satellite navigation systems (Grade ‘2’ and above) include Kia’s Connected Services powered by TomTom® as standard, offering a wide range of driving-oriented information. Connectivity features include live traffic updates, speed camera locations and alerts, local search, and weather forecasts, depending on legal restrictions applied in each country. The Kia Connected Services system has been updated in the Sportage to show drivers the price of fuel at nearby filling stations, as well as the location and real-time availability of parking spaces. Grade ‘1’ comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, with Grade ‘2’ and ‘GT-Line’ versions adding satellite navigation with a 7.0-inch touchscreen. ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’, and ‘GT-Line S’ models feature an 8.0-inch system with satellite navigation.
All models in the Sportage line-up feature Apple CarPlayTM and Android AutoTM with voice control, as well as Bluetooth® with music streaming. A USB port for connection of an audio media device are provided in the front, and a USB charging port in the rear is provided on grade ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’. The 160-watt audio system comes with DAB radio with MP3 compatibility and features six-speakers. A shark fin antenna is fitted to all Sportage models for clearer reception. For audiophiles, ‘Edition 25’, ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’ feature an uprated eight-speaker system from JBL®, with a more powerful 320-watt output, external amplifier and Clari-Fi™ music restoration technology.
Other available convenience features in the Sportage include a wireless smartphone charger at the base of the centre console (standard on ‘GT-Line S’), rear-view parking camera with dynamic parking lines (all grades), and a Smart Power Tailgate (fitted to ‘GT-Line S’).
Even Grade ‘1’ comes as standard with 16-inch alloy wheels and all-round disc brakes, projection front fog lights, LED daytime running lamps, chrome window surrounds, smart black cloth upholstery with a light grey headlining, electrically adjustable door mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshifter, all-round electric windows, air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth® with voice recognition, steering wheel controls and music streaming, USB port, an LED front map light, a ventilation duct and 12-volt power outlet in the rear. Other key equipment includes automatic light control, a driver’s manual seat height adjuster, remote central locking with foldaway key, reversing camera system and Apple CarPlayTM and Android AutoTM smartphone connectivity. In addition, there’s Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and cruise control.
Grade ‘2’ expands on this with 17-inch alloy wheels, a shark-fin antenna, body-coloured exterior handles with chrome inserts, a 7.0-inch touch-screen satellite navigation system and Kia Connected Services with TomTom®, roof rails, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, black premium cloth upholstery and powered lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat, electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicators, reversing sensors, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual automatic air conditioning, heated front seats and the Lane-Keep Assist System (LKAS), High-Beam Assist (HBA), Cruise Control and Speed Limiter and Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF).
Grade ‘4’ models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system, panoramic sunroof, a front wiper de-icer, black leather upholstery, 10-way driver's & 8-way passenger's power adjustable seat (sliding, reclining, height adjustment), a high-gloss black centre fascia, stainless steel door scuff plates, engine start/stop button with Smart Entry system, a rear USB charging point, heated steering wheel, Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), a 360-degree around view monitor, a 4.2-inch LCD TFT colour information display and an eight-speaker JBL® premium sound system with sub-woofer, external amp and front centre speaker. On the outside of the Sportage ‘4’, there’s black wheel arch body mouldings and side sills with chrome insert, silver painted front and rear skid plates, LED bi-function headlights and adaptive lighting system, LED rear lights, front parking sensors and 19-inch alloy wheels. Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) City with pedestrian detection is standard, along with Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).
To celebrate 25 years of the Kia Sportage, a special ‘Edition 25’ grade is available from launch and paired exclusively with the 1.6 GDi engine with manual transmission. Largely based on the grade ‘4’, the ‘Edition 25’ comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, black cloth and leather upholstery and premium paint at no extra cost. Other highlights include engine start/stop button with Smart Entry system, an eight-speaker JBL® premium sound system with sub-woofer, external amp and front centre speaker and an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system to name a few.
‘GT-Line’ sits in the range between grades ‘2’ and ‘4’ and has sporty styling flourishes which mark it out as a more dynamic version of the Sportage. There are exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, LED rear combination lamps, front parking sensors, engine start/stop button with smart entry system, front wiper de-icer and with the DCT gearbox, paddle shifters. A ‘GT-Line’ exterior styling pack adds ice-cube LED front fog lights, LED Bi-function headlights with adaptive lighting system. On the inside, there’s black leather upholstery with red piping and stitching, a high-gloss black centre fascia, black headlining, stainless steel sill pedals and scuff plates and a D-shaped leather-covered sports steering wheel.
‘GT-Line S’ offers all of the equipment that ‘GT-Line’ features plus more luxurious flourishes – adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof, 10-way power adjustable driver and 8-way adjustable front passenger seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), an LED boot light and LED personal lamp, the 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system and 8-speaker JBL® premium sound system with subwoofer, external amplifier and front centre speaker, Smart Power Tailgate and a wireless phone charger. Safety devices include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) City including pedestrian detection, a 360-degree around view monitor, Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).
Market, warranty and after-care
The Sportage slots into the compact SUV/crossover market, which is expected to grow from 9.4 per cent of the total in Europe in 2015 to 10.2 per cent by 2018, with total sales for the sector predicted at 1.6 million.
The Sportage has proved to be a huge success for Kia in Europe. It is the second best-selling car in its class in the UK, ahead of the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Range Rover Evoque, SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan. The Sportage is Kia's best-selling model in the UK, claiming around 40 per cent of the company's sales.
In keeping with every Kia, the Sportage comes with a unique-in-the-UK seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to certain wear and tear conditions. The warranty is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached.
The Sportage is available with Kia’s ‘Kia Care’ service plans, which have been developed to provide customers with a wide range of service plan options for any Kia model within the first seven years of the vehicle’s life – matching its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
The service plans include a comprehensive range of options including the original, traditional, first three and five services, but in addition a customer can now purchase services up to and including the seventh service which matches the full length of the warranty. The plans are available for all Kia owners and can be purchased at any point of ownership for cars up to five years old.