In-depth reviews

Kia Sportage SUV review

“The bold new Kia Sportage offers a high-tech interior and plenty of hybrid options”

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Pros

  • Cutting-edge interior
  • Economical hybrids
  • Big boot

Cons

  • Expensive top models
  • Engine can be noisy
  • Slightly firm ride

The Kia Sportage is now in its fifth generation and each new model has been an improvement on its predecessor. After the first two rather conservative models, the third-gen version introduced tiger-inspired styling and scooped our inaugural Carbuyer Car of the Year award in 2011. The outgoing model built on that car’s success and became one of the best-selling cars in the UK in recent years.

So there’s a lot riding on the new Kia Sportage and Kia has made sure it won’t pass you by. It may not please everyone but there’s no doubting that the car is eye-catching, with the front end characterised by a wide grille and boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights.

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The GT-Line trims add a slightly sportier look but any Sportage will stand out in the supermarket car park. You’re unlikely to mistake it for any of its numerous rivals, which include the Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca. Perhaps the striking design isn’t surprising given the look of the latest Hyundai Tucson and the close relationship between the two brands.

Inside is just as attractive, with a set of twin screens lifted out of the Kia EV6. They’re as good to use as they are to look at, with intuitive menus matched by crisp graphics. You don’t have to scroll through endless sub-menus to get to the settings you want, while the retention of physical buttons means other controls in the cabin are easy to use.

Equipment is generous, with even the sub-£27,000 ‘2’ trim getting LED headlights, a reversing camera, auto lights and wipers and a touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and digital radio. The ‘3’ trim features bigger screens, seat heaters and tinted glass; ‘4’ brings a sunroof, wireless phone charging and extra driver aids. Buyers can also choose from two GT-Line models.

The news is just as good if you’re sitting behind the front seats. Adults will find there’s enough room in the back seats, even if you pick a model with the panoramic sunroof, and the 587-litre boot is pretty big for a car in this class. There are a number of other handy touches too, suggesting Kia’s designers spent a lot of time considering how to make the Sportage as useful as possible.

Mild-hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid engines are all available, along with conventional petrol and diesel motors. There’s no electric option - you’ll need to buy the Kia EV6 if you’re wanting a zero-emission car - but the wide choice of engines should suit a broad array of customers.

We’ve recently driven the hybrid, which may end up being one of the best-selling engines. The electric aspect of the powertrain is most noticeable when coming to a stop and setting off again, when you can hear that the car is running without the engine turning. That’s not to say the petrol engine is particularly noticeable when it kicks in, although it does get coarse if you demand a quick burst of acceleration.

Refinement is great once you get up to speed and body roll is kept to a minimum. So is steering feel, unfortunately, but that’ll hardly be top of the priority list for buyers of a family SUV.

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