Kia's fourth-generation Sportage has landed in Australia, bringing with it a bold new look, more technology, improved refinement, better handling and a more spacious interior.
Prices have jumped markedly though. While the previous-generation 2WD Sportage Si petrol retailed at $25,990, its all-new replacement starts at $28,990.
That's not all. A range restructure sees all petrol Si and SLi models become strictly FWD-only machines, while a base model Sportage Si Diesel gets added to the range. The Platinum petrol also scores an engine upgrade, ditching its 2.0 litre four for a 2.4 litre direct-injected unit.
But more than anything else, it's the styling that's the most different of all.
Mimicking the large headlamps and "tiger-nose" grille of the Pro_c'eed GT, the new Sportage has left the angular styling of its predecessor well and truly behind.
It's gone upmarket inside as well. Besides plenty of high-quality surfaces, Kia claims the new Sportage is one of the quietest and most refined in its class thanks to thicker windshield glass, more sound insulation on the firewall and bigger transmission mounts.
It's bigger too. The wheelbase has swelled by 30mm and overall length is up by 40mm, boosting legroom by 19mm up front and 7mm at the back. Headroom grows by 5mm and 16mm, front to rear, and the rear seat backrest can also recline.
Other structural changes see the A-pillar base relocated and slimmed down to help vision around corners, and the C-pillar also losing some girth to aid over-the-shoulder vision. Boot space also grows slightly, with 466 litres of seats-up capacity.
The base 2.0 litre petrol gets its power cut from 122kW down to 114kW, with 192Nm of torque instead of 205Nm. Fuel economy improves, however, averaging out at 7.9 l/100km for that model.
The new 2.4 litre naturally-aspirated petrol makes a more impressive 135kW and 237Nm with an average fuel consumption of 8.5 l/100km. The 2.0 litre turbo diesel continues to make 136kW of power and 400Nm of torque, but its thirst drops 0.4 l/100km to 6.8 l/100km.
The fuel tank has grown in size from 58 litres to 62 litres, which, combined with the improved fuel economy figures, increases the range of the new Sportage over the car it replaces.
A six-speed automatic is standard for all engines, driving the front wheels in the 2.0 litre petrol variants and all four via an on-demand AWD system when coupled to the diesel or 2.4 litre petrol.
The suspension is similar to that of the outgoing Sportage, but has been retuned to improve roadholding and comfort with considerable input from Kia Australia's local chassis engineers.
The rear suspension cradle is mounted on larger mounts, with a stiffer cross member that helps cut road noise and vibrations.
Suspension geometry has also been tweaked to contain understeer, while the brake rotors have grown 5mm at the front to 305mm in diameter, and 40mm at the rear to 302mm.
Platinum GT Line models get a unique suspension tune that emphasises grip and cornering performance, at the expense of a slightly firmer ride.
While the base model Si offers a fairly typical spread of standard equipment, satellite navigation is only available on the SLi and Platinum grades.
However the Si still receives a 7-inch colour touchscreen display, reverse parking sensors and a reversing camera, With Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity and USB inputs as standard. Cloth upholstery covers the seats, roof rails are fitted and manual air conditioning keeps occupants cool.
Step up to the SLi, and the equipment list looks more impressive. Not only do you gain sat-nav, but also front parking sensors, LED daytime running lamps, leather upholstery, a powered driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, self-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlamps.
As you'd expect, the Platinum packs even more gear. The safety story improves markedly with the Platinum's standard lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision alert and blind spot monitoring.
Comfort and convenience get a similar boost, with bi-Xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free powered tailgate, a powered front passenger seat plus heated and cooled front seats. A wireless charging pad also sits at the base of the centre stack
The 2016 Sportage range is available now, with prices that eclipse those of the superseded model by at least $3000 - except in the case of the SLi 2.0 petrol, which drops in price by $1000 thanks to its move from AWD to FWD.
- Si 2.0-litre petrol - $28,990
- Si 2.0-litre diesel - $33,990
- SLi 2.0-litre petrol - $33,990
- SLi 2.0-litre diesel - $38,990
- Platinum 2.4-litre petrol - $43,490
- Platinum 2.0-litre diesel - $45,990