This is the all-new Kia Sportage, and it has the face of a tiger

South Korea's Qashqai rival gets Kia's pointy new nose and more space inside

The old Kia Sportage accounted for more than a quarter of Kia’s European sales. So it’s fair to say this new one is rather significant. If you’re into mid-size SUVs, at least.

Like the outgoing car, the new Sportage is a crossover tasked with holding its ground against, and with any luck thieving sales from, the big guns - Nissan’s ever-popular Qashqai and the new Renault Kadjar to name but two.

It’s an all-new car, but doesn’t differ massively in size from the Sportage it replaces. It’s as wide and as tall, but there’s an extra 30mm in the wheelbase for added spaciousness. Elsewhere in the cabin, there’s soft-touch plastic aplenty and a new 8-inch touchscreen. There’s more sound-proofing for better NVH, too, and the rear-seats flip and fold in as many ways as you’d ever need. Sensible stuff.

But there’s an elephant in the room. Actually, not an elephant but a tiger. Yep, the Sportage is the latest recipient of Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille. And while it works elsewhere in the range, we’re still in two minds as to whether this application has been quite so successful. 

Was Kia not tempted to keep it simple? “We could have gone down that road,” Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s European head of design, tells Top Gear. “When the previous car came out, it revolutionised the segment. Suddenly, there was a sporty, sexy-looking SUV. We knew we were going to be the target of everybody, so we had to raise the bar quite a bit.

“We looked at how to do it. One way would have been not to change the winning formula, but we thought if we had done that all over, it wouldn’t have been enough.” 

So there you go. In terms of engines, Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘T-GDI’ petrol is all-new, and available only with ‘GT Line’ trim. There’s another 1.6-litre petrol, which is little more than a carryover from the old car, and, more significantly for the UK at least, 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesels. Both made appearances in the last Sportage, but the 2.0-litre in particular has been fettled for optimum betterness. 

As per the class norm, you can have your Sportage with AWD if you really want it (most probably shouldn’t bother), and an auto box (an all-new seven-speed DCT can be had with the big petrol). And because it’s a Kia, it’ll come with many years of warranty. Expect it to cost as much as its rivals, give or take a few hundred quid, when it arrives early next year….