In-depth reviews

Kia Sportage SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Kia Sportage is refined at speed, although can be noisy when you’re accelerating

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.2 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Few family SUVs cater for keen drivers and the Kia Sportage is no exception. It’s not as good to drive as a Ford Kuga or Mazda CX-5 but it’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination.

There’s very little body roll, for a start, although this is achieved by a slightly firm ride. That means the Sportage will occasionally crash into bumps and potholes but for the most part comfort is acceptable. Direct steering gives you confidence, even if there is precious little feel through the wheel.

The Sportage doesn’t reward hard acceleration. The hybrid model we tested was noisy getting up to speed, with quite a harsh tone from the petrol engine. It’s much better if you stick to a relaxed pace and is impressively refined once you’re at cruising speed. Refinement is good at lower speeds, as then the car can run on electric power for short periods of time. 

Kia Sportage hybrid engines

Topping the Sportage range for the first time is a plug-in hybrid model, capable of over 30 miles of electric range. It also gets 261bhp, so should be the fastest-accelerating version in the lineup. Below it is the 227bhp hybrid and both are based on Kia’s familiar 1.6-litre petrol engine. Kia hasn’t revealed any performance statistics just yet. Both hybrid models come with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard, while the PHEV gets four-wheel drive (it’s an option on the hybrid GT-Line S).

Petrol engines

The 1.6-litre petrol engine produces 148bhp and is available on all trim levels. It’s paired to a six-speed ‘intelligent’ manual gearbox (the clutch is controlled electronically, rather than mechanically) but a seven-speed automatic gearbox is also available. Pick the auto and you’ll get 48-volt mild-hybrid technology for slightly improved fuel economy.

Diesel engines

It’s a little surprising that Kia is offering the Sportage with a diesel engine, although it may not last long. The Hyundai Tucson was going to be offered with the same 1.6-litre diesel as fitted in the Sportage but it was very quickly withdrawn. The engine is carried over from the old Sportage and, like the petrol, it comes with mild-hybrid technology on automatic versions. Manual versions get 113bhp, while the auto boasts 134bhp.

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