Launch Report: Kia adds design appeal and premium feel to the Sportage

08 April 2022

kia sportage

With the fifth generation of the Sportage, Kia has broken away from the rather conventional design of its best-selling model’s previous iteration. The new car features a striking front end with a distinctive ‘tiger nose’ and honeycomb grille, matrix LED headlights and boomerang-style daytime running lights. The design is no less impressive than its corporate stablemate, the Hyundai Tucson. The family-sized crossover is also quiet, refined, smooth and comfortable to drive.

The Sportage’s interior is ergonomically good and aesthetically pleasing. It is spacious for both front occupants, while rear-seat passengers can take advantage of adjustable backrests to add to the comfortability of the cabin.

Up front, the large, curved display incorporates twin 12.3-inch screens for the digital cluster and the central touchscreen. The infotainment system is reactive and easy to use but is not as intuitive as in some rival models, with the icons less easy to differentiate. The lower touch panel is sensitive, which can lead to unintentional operation when selecting the controls above.

There are a few below-average interior elements, such as the door handles, lower door panels in the front and rear, and the plastic-framed rear mirror, which contradict the overall good interior and material quality. The amount of glossy piano-black surfaces may deter some customers, as they show fingerprint marks and may be subject to scratches.

The new model has many well-sized storage solutions, and the boot is among the largest in the C-SUV segment, ranging from 526 litres in the mild-hybrid diesel to 591 litres in the petrol variant. This compares to 506 litres in the Mazda CX-5, and 504 litres in the Nissan Qashqai for example.

Kia has a good reputation for reliability and the brand’s seven-year warranty is still the industry benchmark. This leaves four years of cover when the vehicle is sold after three years, which is also positive for residual values (RVs) as most rival brands only offer a two-year warranty. The Sportage has an affordable list price compared to its key competitors, and Kia still offers a reasonable delivery time, which will further reinforce the brand’s attractiveness.

However, Kia’s ongoing strategy of increasing prices harms RVs, especially in percentage (RV%) terms. Although discounts barely exist, they may be necessary to maintain the competitiveness of the Sportage, both in the private and fleet channels.

The new model is available with a wide range of powertrains, including diesel and petrol engines, some with mild-hybrid technology, a 230hp hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version with 265hp. The model also comes with a choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Fuel consumption is slightly lower than the Kia Sportage’s key rivals in the 150hp petrol version, with mild-hybrid technology and the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, However, there are only two driving modes, Eco and Sport, and the gearbox is not very responsive, even in Sport mode. An additional mode, such as Comfort, would have been beneficial.

The C-SUV segment is highly competitive. Most carmakers offer models to rival the Sportage, which naturally leads to intense rivalry. The Hyundai Tucson, which is very similar to the Sportage and is based on the same platform, may present the greatest competition. Additionally, Kia offers other models in the small and medium SUV segments, including the smaller Stonic and XCeed, as well as the Niro and Soul, which are particularly popular as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).

Nevertheless, the Sportage has grown in popularity over the years and has retained many of its original customers, who have stayed loyal to the brand and the model. It is no longer the ‘cheap-and-cheerful’ contender it used to be, but the latest iteration is so good that it could attract even more customers to the brand, just like its sister car Tucson has done for Hyundai.

View the Autovista Group dashboard, which benchmarks the Kia Sportage in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK for more details. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.