Do you remember what the previous Kia Sportage looked like? Probably not, because it has only been sold sparsely in recent years. And that while it is such a friendly-looking model, with its innocent round toe. In 2021, less than 600 Dutch people opted for a Sportage. That is not only in stark contrast with the more than 10,000 Niro's, but also with the small 8,000 pieces of the topper in the four and a half meter class of SUVs, the Volvo XC40. †No more Mister Nice Guy"That's why they must have thought of Kia. Get rid of those cuddly round lines, it's done with that open look.
Seen from the side, the new Sportage turned out to be a nice sleek SUV, with the same Tonka-esque look as the Volvo XC40. If the midi SUV segment were a high school class, the Kia Sportage would be the neat hockey girl. With regular facial features and in neat designer clothes. But if you look the Sportage straight in the face, it turns out that the hockey girl suddenly appears to be wearing coal-black eyeshadow, black lipstick and huge piercings through the nose and upper lip.
At least that's how we experience the front of the new Kia. In it, the aggressive-looking LED lamp units fight a fierce battle for attention with lavish, five-piece grid work. At the rear, the large black panel over the full width stands out, and the tailgate and taillights show a small hint of EV6.
In the interior, that touch becomes a whole tablespoon, because inside the Sportage resembles the electric EV6 like two drops of water. Includes the wall-to-wall digital instrumentation and transmission dial. Yet we do not drive an electric Sportage. Kia has applied some form of electrification to every Sportage, but in all cases a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo engine forms the heart of the powertrain.
The price list starts with the manual 1.6 T-GDi Mild Hybrid with 150 hp (34,995 euros). The 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine is supported by a starter motor generator. There is also a four-wheel drive 1.6 T-GDi Plug-in Hybrid (265 hp, from 42,595 euros), but we are on the way with the 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid.
That is 5400 euros more expensive than the basic version, but for that you also get 80 hp extra. The fast calculator then knows that we are on the way with 230 hp. If we look at the Volvo XC40 again, we see that it requires a minimum investment of 39,995 euros. But then you have to make do with a 129 hp three-cylinder ...
In the Sportage Hybrid you can drive away in the morning whisper-quiet, because it always starts on the electric motor. Depending on your gas input, the combustion engine will report later. A power of 230 hp sounds quite impressive, and indeed the Sportage Hybrid gets going a lot faster than the Dutch booster vaccination campaign. On the other hand, with a hundred sprint of 8.0 seconds, it is also not a sprint cannon.
Under all circumstances, the car is just nice and smooth, although the six-speed automatic transmission is not the Max Verstappen among the gearboxes. It doesn't make much difference whether you play pinball yourself or whether you let the transmission do all the work itself. It does help if you switch from Eco driving mode to Sport. If your co-driver calls out to you: "Act normally!", you are powerless, because there is no such possibility. Simply because the Normal driving mode does not exist. A little crazy indeed.
It is also noticeable that the four-cylinder becomes quite noisy if you ask a little more from him. Because the car, on the whole, is nice and quiet, it strikes us a bit raw on the roof. Perhaps Kia has consciously built that acceleration noise parrot, to make sure you take it easy and get the specified consumption of 5.8 l/100 km (1 in 17.2). During our short test drive, we were nowhere near that.
Fortunately, the chassis has no unpleasant surprises in store. We deliberately looked up many speed bumps and cobbled streets and the Sportage took them with flying colors. The suspension convinces with supple suspension, but with a nice firm damping effect. Despite the fairly high center of gravity, the body leans only slightly in bends. We also did not detect any annoying dive tendencies when braking hard.
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Add to that the good seats and the predictable steering, and you just have a very nice SUV. Just like the front seats, the rear seat has a fairly long seat and because the seat is also quite high, the Sportage bench seats offer a nicer seating comfort than the EV6. The headroom is more than sufficient, but if you opt for a version with a panoramic roof (standard from the DynamicPlusLine), it will cost centimeters.
Fortunately, the basketball players can smuggle a bit under the rear passengers by tilting the backrest slightly. If you want to give luggage space, you can fold the rear seat back into three parts. Pull the handles in the luggage compartment and they fall forward in one movement. This way you increase the trunk space of 587 liters in an almost flat loading floor with a capacity of 1776 liters.
When we are on the road with the Kia for a while, it gives us the traditional 'Volkswagen feeling'. The new Sportage is everyone's friend with excellent handling without extremes, a well-finished interior and fine ergonomics. The only thing that takes some getting used to is the changing function of the button panel for climate control and sound system. The active cruise control works very pleasantly and is therefore also useful in busy Dutch traffic. It is also nice that all kinds of driving modes are maintained when you switch off the car. This way you don't have to select your favorite positions again and again.
Still, we can catch the Sportage on a few quirks. For example, it is strange that the rear wiper wipes the wrong way. As a result, a large part of the dirt remains on the driver's side of the window. And that while the view obliquely to the rear through the wide C-pillars is not left anyway. Fortunately, in the top version of the Sportage you also have the fancy blind spot cameras. These show you in the digital instruments what is happening diagonally behind the car. Only during the soaking wet test drive it seemed as if we were looking in a distorting mirror.
Fortunately, modern Kia's are in no way reminiscent of the cars of a few decades ago. except for one thing: the equipment is still nicely extensive. Already in the basic ComfortLine version, the new Sportage offers you LED headlights, air conditioning, a reversing camera, 17-inch alloy and various safety assistants. The Sportage Hybrid is equipped as a minimum as DynamicLine. It spoils you with the beautiful, curved 12.3-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation system, a rain sensor, climate control with three zones and an adjustable lumbar support in the driver's seat. In the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid you also get adaptive cruise control and highway assistant (semi-autonomous driving) included.
Leaving aside its polarizing front, the new Kia Sportage does its utmost to befriend everyone. He scores highly for behavior and diligence and is generous with his equipment and ability. Furthermore, many potential buyers appreciate that the Korean - unlike many competitors - comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. Especially caravanners - who are allowed to hang 1650 kg on the towbar - like that.
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