Kia Sportage Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Kia Sportage

£ 20,085 - £ 34,765
710
Published: 25 Jul 2018
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Facelifted Sportage gains mild hybrid diesel tech, but it’s not enough to radically alter the class landscape

Good stuff

Plenty of kit on-board, reasonably agile, roomy

Bad stuff

Rough ride, snouty looks

Overview

What is it?

A mid-life facelift for Kia’s best-selling car in the UK.

And being the best-seller, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Kia has chosen to largely leave the looks alone. Changes run to new bumpers, new fog lights, full-LED headlights with four-point daytime running lights – oh, and gloss or matt black grille and silver skid plates. Told you it wasn’t much.

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Interior tweaks are limited as well. We’ll come onto these in more detail in a tick, but suffice to say that build quality is OK (although not as impressive as the brand new Ceed) and GT-Line cars get – wait for it – black leather with red accents. To be fair, it’s easy to scoff but the seats look smart and the rest of the interior isn’t an unpleasant place to be.

Petrol engines remain largely the same as the pre-facelift car, but the diesel range has been extended to include a mild hybrid version, as well as two power outputs for the new 1.6-litre. Diesel? In this day and age? What [i]will[i] the neighbours think?

The good news is that the old 1.7-litre diesel has been dropped – we’ve previously said it had all the refinement of a canal boat motor. Now there is a new 1.6-litre CRDi that produces either 114bhp or 134bhp, emits as little as 126g/km and comes with front-wheel drive as standard, or four-wheel drive if you plump for the dual clutch automatic transmission.

The 2.0-litre diesel has also been fettled to include a mild hybrid 48V system. It’s not a full-on hybrid so there’s no electric motor to give extra power, rather an uprated starter motor with larger battery that combine to overcome some of the inertia in the crankshaft. Basically, they just help the engine along a bit.

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This system is a cheap way to pinch a couple of extra CO2 points because there’s no major engineering tweaks needed. The engine bay doesn’t need altering and the new battery pack can sit under the boot floor. But does it matter that it hasn’t cost a small fortune to install? It’s all about fine gains, so Kia rightly takes what it can. Sadly, though, we can’t tell you what those gains are as there are delays getting the results out of the new WLTP testing process.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Facelifted Sportage gains mild hybrid diesel tech, but it’s not enough to radically alter the class landscape

The Sportage wasn’t a class leader before this facelift and the surgery hasn’t been dramatic enough to fundamentally alter the crossover landscape: it’s a good car, this, but it isn’t ready to take on the likes of the Nissan Qashqai.

But at least the diesel engines are now competitive with rivals, and the refinement has been measurably improved as a result. You never hear much clatter in the cabin and the spacious interior with the smart dash is perfectly acceptable to look at, if a little cheap to the touch.

It’s just a pity the ride quality lets it down. Something to fix for the next gen, all-new Sportage.

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