This is the latest Sportage Hybrid SUV from Kia. We have the GT Line S, which is powered by a 1.6L T-GDi engine and a 1.49kWh battery.
The SUV has been a staple on UK roads for many years and back in 1995 we would have seen the 1st Gen of this. It was practical, it was versatile and it was developed for European roads. This is the fifth generation, the all-new Kia Sportage.
This is now on the N3 platform. It's longer, it's wider and it's taller. Well, it's certainly changed a bit since the 1st Gen – I mean just look at the new Tiger Nose Grille. This is completely different to anything that we’ve seen, and design language: well, it's certainly going down the new Sorento and EV6 route, and that's a really good thing. And because this is a hybrid, the batteries are stored underneath the rear seats, which means it doesn't really eat into any of the cabin space. So realistically, you could say it's got the same kind of practicality as a petrol model.
There are 16 variations! Now, yep, no diesel, but you’ve petrols, mild hybrids, hybrids and plug in hybrid electric vehicles too. Now prices start at just under £30,000.00 and go well over £40,000.00 - for that you can get a GT Line S, with all wheel drive and something called Drive Wise. That's their new safety system and that's across the full range. But always bear in mind, it depends on the trim level to what features you get. This is a GL Line S, and under the bonnet we've got a 1.6 T-Gdi engine, an electric motor and a battery. And that’s coupled to a drive by wire, six speed automatic box. And that will develop 226 BHP, and if you do want to go, adventuring, well it’s the perfect family vehicle.
Now, economy in something like this - you'd think, hmm you know, 35 to 40, but it's closer to 50. And the other thing is, it still pulls 0 to 60 in just 7.7 seconds, but that's the beauty of a petrol engine and an electric motor. So the way the technology works in there is when you coast, it regens. So it puts power back into the battery and that makes it more economical.
It also runs in electric mode in certain situations, like manoeuvring, low speeds, etc., etc.. Design, language is spot on. I mean, just look at the flow around the daytime running lights, it's chunky bumper…It's just got a really - I suppose it's a commanding front. Now, we're real fan of this new grille structure. Satin black gloss and the insert silver here, partial clamshell bonnet, and black accents that run and surround things like the daytime running lights and even on this bottom lip.
You've got driving lights here, but they are hidden. And that's the thing about this - it's tastefully designed…nothing's over the top, it just looks right. Now, I’d be stood here for literally hours and hours and hours if I was going to tell you every configuration, every variant. So the best bet is go to Kia and play around with the configurator and you'll see exactly what you get.
In a nutshell, we've got Adaptive Cruise Control, Matrix lights – LED front and rear, Parking Sensors, Blindspot Detection, 360 camera…and I'm sure there's way more, to be honest, but we'll take a deeper look at that in the driving section. If this is the shape of Kia’s to come I’m rather excited. Now, as we have the GT Line S, we've got some extras, for example we have a black roof, black A Pillar and B Pillar, and partial C Pillar and just look at the black arches that surround the wheels.
Now these are 18” alloys, but you can get anything from 17” to 19”, and we've got a decent profile tyre that means it's comfortable on road and off road. Doors that cover the sills, and there's not what you call side skirts, but we do have this styling down here at the bottom of the vehicle. One feature I always like to see on the car is quarter lights.
Now we've got power folding door mirrors with Blindspot Detection, and this has got a rather advanced system which displays on the cluster, and you can see the side of your vehicle, black roof bars, a massive panoramic with a blind, and keyless entry. I'm a fan of this dark chrome too!
Let’s take a look inside…the door opens nice and wide. Straight away there are premium materials throughout, soft touches, great design language and the shaping as you can see here. I've got memory function on my electric seat and even the passenger gets an electric seat too.
Also, in addition on the GT Line - and a couple of other trims - is the Harman Kardon premium sound system, and it does sound nice! No grab handle about the drivers door. Now, the last thing I expected to see when I stepped in here is the screens out of the EV6. It shows you your navigation…it shows you what your hybrid systems doing…no…this has seriously changed!
I mean, if you think back to the previous gen, you just had analogue clocks and an infotainment system, but the way it's all just reshaped, it’s done so well, with premium materials throughout, but the build quality is there as well. I mean the center console..yeah, you’ve got some big chunky hard plastics, but it means it's nice and strong in the centre an armrest does give you a fair bit of extra storage. The stalks have got a nice feel to them and I've got paddles on the back of the steering wheel, leather wrapped, flat bottomed and GT Line in red and black…Gotta love that! As for your handbrake – it’s was operated from the panel on the dash at the right hand side of the steering wheel.
The piano black/the shaping round the vents – it’s nice and simple to use. And this material here is almost like the checkered plating that you got in old rally cars, but far more premium and refined…very, very cool indeed.
Rotary dials left, right and centre, and I'm just going to go on about this button for a second. Let's say the battery's flat. What it does is offload the power from the hybrid system back into your 12 Volt, and it does it pretty much instantaneously. You’ve also got racing pedals and you've got a foot rest too. Everything is straightforward, easy to use, and literally, once you've been sat in there, say, 5 minutes, you know exactly where everything is and how to use it.
The Infotainment system is nice and easy to use. It's responsive, and it's got lots of functionality, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Navigation. It's nice that the media system can be controlled with these rotary dials, so you literally just turn this one for the volume and then if you press this one, you can turn off the climate control, and all this is touch sensitive, and works very well. Also, there's nothing you have to wade through screens for. Heated and ventilated seats - you can even heat your steering wheel. There’s reach and rake in the steering wheel, and the controls and switchgear feel really good.
This black headliner - it just puts you in a sporty mood! And then that's complemented with black premium seats, with GT Line embossed on it. They're supportive, and they're comfortable. You have Driving Modes down here by the gear shift, with another rotary operating a camera. We've even got Hill Descent Control and Auto Hold. I like this! More piano black, it looks great, but the other thing is like the screen, it will highlight fingerprints. But that doesn't really matter. It's just one of those things you get used to, and let's face it, most of the vehicles nowadays have big screens and piano black.
You’ve got cupholders here, and if you press this button…ta da, you've got a wireless charger, 12 Volt socket, and USB socket. The glove compartment - wow, there’s nothing in it, and it’s a decent size. That's a rarity in today's world.
Let's take a look in the rear. The door opens nice and wide and this is a decent opening too. Stepping in is no problem. I don't really need to dip my head either. Premium materials throughout. Now, yep, hard plastics at the top, but it's nice to see the same trim and styling that you see on the front doors.
Oooo, velvety…well, Velveteen. Very Transition Vamp, I bet that takes you back! Look at that, the leg room, and bear in mind, this front seat is set for me, at six foot three. I can get my feet under the seats, and there is recess here. There's even a coat hook. Wow! And the fact is the Kia Sportage is now on a completely new platform, and you can tell: it's far more spacious inside, it's better trimmed. You've got more legroom, you've got more foot room, with a low transmission tunnel in the centre. And these front seats are even slimmer than the previous Gen, which means that gives you even more legroom. Everything's been thought about. As for the headroom, well, even if you were six foot five, if you fully reclined it, it's not going to be a challenge. But at six foot three, it's perfectly fine, even with the panoramic!
Perforated, premium finishes, pull down armrest and it's comfortable, with cupholders and USB’s built into the rear of the front seats. I can even adjust my air conditioning and I've got storage point there. Isofix points, airbags and this panoramic blind goes all the way back. So I've got lots of extra light and look, grab handles above every door, bar the driver's. Solid, build quality, lots of practicality and it's refined very nicely.
The back seats recline or - if I bring it further forward - I can then increase boot space. Because we've got the GT Line, I even get a heated rear seat.
The rear - in a nutshell - reminds me of the EV6, the flow, even the shaping here, the way that the EV6 bar went all the way across, and I hoped it would be on the Sportage, but no, however like this they look very minimalist. The combination of straight angles and curvature makes for a rather impressive looking SUV. It comes with a Reversing Camera, Parking Sensors, a high level brake light, and a shark fin aerial. As this is the GT Line, we also get this area under the rear bumper in silver. And with every Kia, you get a seven year warranty.
Let's take a look in the boot. No boot lip, it’s a decent size and extra storage under the false floor and a tyre inflation kit, so yep, no spare wheel. You’ve got tethering points and a 12 Volt socket. You will quite easily get your shopping in there and some luggage. It's quite a deep boot. A lot of cars like this - normally this boot space is far narrower - but here it's quite deep, and it's quite tall.
The parcel shelf is extremely easy to remove, we just literally pull in this end and yada, yada and like every other Kia, this parcel shelf can then fit from here to here under the false floor. Look at that!
Dropping the seats is nice and simple, literally pull this. Oh, there's a shopping bag hook. Well, this seriously increases the space. And look, no gap between the carpet. It doesn't lie entirely flat, but it's pretty damn close. Also, the rear seats lock in place, so that's nice and safe. The way you release it is - pull the lever on the side where you recline seat, that is a decent space.
Under the bonnet, you have a Hybrid powertrain and lots of orange. Nice and easy to see where to top of your fluids. It would have been nice to see struts, but all that adds weight, and likely also increases costs, and this does it perfectly.
Let's reverse it…engage! It’s only running the engine, it’s not actually using it to accelerate. This is the perfect way to get any parking spot.
Driving the Kia Sportage Hybrid
Welcome behind the wheel of the all new Kia Sportage. Under the bonnet, we've got a 1.6 T-GDi engine, it's four cylinder and it's turbocharged. And because we've got a Hybrid, we've also got an electric motor, 44 kilowatt’s - battery as well with 72 cells and that's housed under the rear seat. So it doesn't eat into cabin space and that's about 50 brake horsepower.
Now when you look at the petrol engine that's closer to 176, combine that and you end up with 226 brake horsepower, 0-60 in around 7.7 seconds. As for going up hills. Wow. It just flies up them, literally. Joining motorways is absolutely no problem, and it'll cruise along an A-Road quite happily. It's even got top speed of 120 miles an hour.
Handling, well considering it’s an SUV, you'd think it would have a lot of body roll, but there isn't.
Yeah, you're going to get a bit, especially if you go hooning into a corner, but on a country lane it's quite an engaging experience. When it comes to the gearbox, we've got a six speed automatic and it's drive by wire, which means the whole system takes up less space than say a previous Gen - also makes it lighter. Currently just cruising around the country lanes and I'm getting 42.3 mpg, but that's because I've got a lead foot. So periodically I'll just keep blipping it and that's what keeps it down. But on an Eco Run, you'll get well over 50. And if you look at the screen, you can see exactly what the Hybrid powertrain is doing. So you don't charge this. And it's not mild either. It's agile, it's fun, and it’s got some costs decent pull.
Engine noise - there's not too much of it unless you floor it. If you do a normal acceleration, it's rather refined, no wind noise to speak of and you can hear a bit of tyre noise, but that's because most of the time this is trying to run in electric. So as soon as you back off, it starts coasting. And it's really easy to see when it does that because you've got the dial here on the cluster, and it just goes straight to charge, which is blue. Everything's nice and clear and easy to read.
The suspension's comfortable even on these pothole ridden roads. The other thing about it is it's not too stiff, so no excess body roll. It's not wallowing, it's just comfortable for both driver and passenger, but is still engaging.
Going up hills, absolutely no problem because you've got your turbocharged engine and electric motor, it pulls like a train, literally.
Steering, nice and direct and weightens up nicely on a back road, but it's nice and light for manoeuvring. You've got two driving modes: Efficiency and Sport. As you'd expect, Sport just tightens everything up and it is pretty damn quick.
Safety. Well, you've got Drive Wise on this, and it makes for a rather safe drive. You've got Adaptive Cruise Control with StopGo, Collision Detection, and the Camera can be seen in your cluster when you're indicating. AEB, Blindspot Detection, it also displays the side view Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and the list goes on. And even in windy conditions it holds itself well because things like Lane Keep Assist...No, the new breed of Sportage is something else.
Visibility all round is generally good, decent, big windscreen and side windows. Yeah, there is a bit of a blind spot on this B Pillar. But with Blindspot Detection like we've got, that's just not a problem. Reversing well, it’s a decent back window, to be honest. Good strong brakes, discs all round and you've got an auto hold for the handbrake, but I tend to just disable that because the car can do it itself quite easily.
The system works very well, it uses petrol engine when it needs it, but most of the time it will try and do as much as it can in electric mode, which makes for a very pleasant drive. But you still got that performance if you need it.
So yeah, a great vehicle to go on holiday in. It's spacious, it's comfortable, it's a decent price, and there's about 16 variations, as I mentioned.
This retails for around £40,000.00, and it's well worth the money. Just think they start at £27,000.00! It's very orientated for the family, it's practical, it's engaging, and the drive system works exceptionally well.