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Kia facelifts family favourite Sportage SUV for 25th anniversary

Kia Sportage SUV has been given a mild makeover, inside and out, and new engines and technology for its 25th anniversary and fourth-generation range. Picture: Kia

Kia Sportage SUV has been given a mild makeover, inside and out, and new engines and technology for its 25th anniversary and fourth-generation range. Picture: Kia

Kia

The Sportage, now Kia’s most popular UK model, marks its 25th anniversary with a facelift and fresh appeal. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out what makes it so popular.

Sportage is a practical, roomy SUV and Kia's top-selling model in the UK. Picture: KiaSportage is a practical, roomy SUV and Kia's top-selling model in the UK. Picture: Kia

The Sportage SUV has been a key part of Kia’s success for 25 years. The first Kia built in Europe, five million have been sold worldwide – almost a quarter of million in the UK, making it our best-selling Kia, often in the UK top 10.

So the fourth generation is not only updated inside and out, gains new safety and infotainment technologies and powertrains but includes a special Edition 25 model.

Looks and image

Decent legroom for three large adults in the back. Picture: KiaDecent legroom for three large adults in the back. Picture: Kia

Really more of a facelift to modernise the Sportage, there’s a redesigned front bumper with new fog lamps, revised ‘tiger-nose’ grille, full-LED headlamps with four-point LED daytime running lights and silver front and rear skid plates on most models.

Rear lights have been tweaked and there are new 16, 17 and 19in alloy wheels and five new colours.

Under the bonnet

Front-wheel drive models have a 503-litre boot. Picture: KiaFront-wheel drive models have a 503-litre boot. Picture: Kia

The headlines are new turbo diesels – 114 and 134bhp 1.6-litre, the latter available with seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, to replace the 1.7-litre and eight-speed auto AWD 182bhp 2.0-litre 48v mild hybrid in GT-Line.

The 1.6-litre petrol models are six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 130bhp 1.6 and an automatic 174bhp 1.6-litre turbo, both now with particulate filters and the latter also offering AWD.

The non-turbo 130bhp petrol, in ‘1’ and ‘2’ and Edition 25 grades, needs revs to feel responsive but cruises comfortably and quietly at motorway speeds. It returned 35 to 40mpg overall, depending on driving conditions.

Subtle makeover inside include a revised instrument cluster, climate controls and steering wheel. Picture: KiaSubtle makeover inside include a revised instrument cluster, climate controls and steering wheel. Picture: Kia

How it drives

Suspension is carried over – fine as it is a happy balance between ride and handling.

GT-Line is tuned for sharper, more agile handling and slightly firmer progress, less sporty models favour ride comfort but are still entertaining to drive.

The electric power steering is responsive but, in the petrol model, feels light at speed.

Space and comfort

The practical cabin boasts comfortable seating and space for large adults, even three in the back, with adjustable rear seat backrests and decent legroom. It’s also quiet with little wind and road noise.

The 503-litre boot’s twin-level floor at sill level sits flush with the folded seat backs, released via a lever on the side of the seats and locking down, or can be lowered for a deeper boot and a maximum capacity of 1,492 litres.

At the wheel

Another case of it ain’t broke, don’t fix it so minor upgrades include a new steering wheel and revised instrument cluster and climate controls.

It’s all very simple – white-on black-instruments with red needles and a central information display, a high-level touchscreen, on all but entry model, push and twist controls for heating and ventilation and metallic-effect and the inevitable gloss black highlights.

Soft-touch plastics on fascia and front doors feel fine but they’re hard and feel cheaper in the back.

Storage is plentiful up front but rear door bins are restricted.

Equipment

You don’t need a top model for creature comforts.

Entry ‘1’ grade includes front fog lights, electric mirrors and windows, air-con, DAB, Bluetooth with voice recognition, steering wheel controls and music streaming, remote locking, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity and cruise control.

The ‘2’ grade test car gained 17in alloys, seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav, rear privacy glass, upgraded cloth upholstery, electric folding mirrors, reversing sensors, auto wipers, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and extra safety systems with lane-keep assist, auto high beam, speed limit information and cruise control with speed limiter.

Above that are Edition 25, ‘4’, GT-Line, GT-Line S trims.

Final say

The Sportage is an unsung hero for Kia, popular with new and used buyers who want a roomy, well-equipped family SUV without a premium price tag.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Kia Sportage ‘2’ 1.6 GDi £22,405 (range (£20,305 to £34,545)

Engine: 1,591cc, 130bhp, four-cylinder petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-60mph 11.1 seconds; top speed 113mph

MPG: Urban 34.4; extra urban 44.1; combined 39.8

CO2 emissions: 162g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 33pc

Insurance group: 13 (out of 50)

Warranty: Seven years or 100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,485mm; W 1,855mm; H 1,645mm

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