Kia Sportage Hybrid review
The fifth generation of Kia’s mid-size family SUV is a refined cruiser with an impressive infotainment setup, although the ride may be on the firm side for some
- Cruising refinement
- Engine noise
- Slightly firm ride
- More efficient plug-in hybrid to come
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The Kia Sportage has been around for nearly 30 years at this point – almost as long as the South Korean brand has been operating in the UK. It’s even possible to track how Kia has developed over the years by looking back at the four previous generations of the family SUV. The same can be said for the latest iteration of the Sportage.
Standout features include a cutting-edge, tech-filled cabin and bold, striking styling – which is increasingly what we've come to expect from Kia’s line-up, following the high benchmark set by the pure-electric EV6 in 2021. A zero-emissions version of the fifth-generation Sportage isn’t on the horizon, but there are plenty of hybrid powertrain options.
That includes mild-hybrids and, for the first time, a plug-in hybrid version, which will arrive in early 2022. The latter competes against the similarly electrified version of its sister car, the Hyundai Tucson, as well as the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Vauxhall Grandland.
However, the version we're focusing on here is the 'full hybrid', which couples a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a 59bhp electric motor fed by a 1.49kWh battery. Total power output stands at 227bhp, which is enough to take the four-wheel-drive, six-speed-automatic Sportage from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 120mph. CO2 emissions stand at 140g/km for the all-wheel-drive model, or 125g/km for the front-wheel-drive car.
On the road, the full-hybrid Sportage produces a synthetic ‘whoosh’ sound when driving in pure-electric mode. And when the petrol engine does kick in, the transition is smooth enough – although it’s best to show a little patience with it, because suddenly putting your foot down sends the revs soaring and unleashes a harsher tone from under the bonnet. A more relaxed approach is rewarded by solid refinement that improves further once up to cruising speed.
When you come face-to-face with some corners, the Sportage keeps body lean in check, helped by quick steering that’s direct, if devoid of feeling. The suspension feels a little firm, though, which means the Sportage can be upset by mid-corner bumps and poorer surfaces overall.
It’s worth noting that our initial test car was fitted with electronically controlled 'active' dampers, which won't be offered on the Sportage in the UK, as well as winter tyres. But even so, when this particular flavour of the family SUV makes its way to British shores, we expect it to be one of the firmer-riding models in its class – much like its predecessor.
Where this Sportage really shines is inside. Essentially, Kia has lifted the impressive dual-screen infotainment setup from the EV6 electric car almost unchanged. Both 12.3-inch panels – one behind the steering wheel and another central touchscreen – are crisp, responsive and easy to use. There are more controls on the centre console, as well as below the main screen on the changeable panel that allows you to flick between navigation and heating/ventilation control, which is certainly preferable to systems that bury climate controls in sub-menus.
There’s space for four six-footers, and even with the panoramic glass roof fitted, those in the rear shouldn’t complain about headroom. Meanwhile, there’s 587 litres of boot capacity, which is not only more than the previous Sportage offered, but around 80 litres up on the latest Nissan Qashqai. You also get a nice, flat floor to make sliding large loads in and out easier. Fold down the rear seats, using the easy-to-access handles on either side of the boot, and space increases to 1,776 litres.
The range starts with 2 trim and goes up through GT-Line, 3 and 4 until you reach the range-topping GT-Line S, which is the equivalent to our test car and priced from just over £40,000. For that, you get an impressive amount of kit, including 18-inch alloys, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, an optional two-tone black roof and synthetic leather/suede upholstery.
We've yet to try a definitive UK-spec car, or the plug-in hybrid version, but our initial test of Kia Sportage Hybrid revealed promising cruising refinement and handling, along with a slightly firm edge to the ride. Cabin space and infotainment were also impressive. We expect that the more modest versions, rather than this £40,000 range-topping all-wheel-drive variant, will be the pick of the line-up.