Replacing your top seller is never easy, but Kia has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at its latest Sportage, with updated engines, plenty of high-end equipment and striking styling.

Making up just under 30% of Kia’s UK sales, the Sportage is the key model for the brand and the new version takes up the baton with the promise of a sub-120g/km diesel, greater interior space and increased quality and refinement.

Five trims are available – from basic 1 trim to plush 4 specification and ‘sporty’ GT Line, in addition to limited-run First Edition models, which include practically all the equipment available. Meanwhile, engines range from 1.6-litre petrol motors – with and without a turbocharger – to 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesel units. Four-wheel drive is available on the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol and larger-engined diesels, as are automatic gearboxes.

The most fleet-friendly Sportage is the 1.7-litre diesel, which now slots into the 21% BIK band with 119g/km CO2 emissions.

It may produce a meagre-sounding 116hp, but low-down punch has been boosted, giving the Sportage a surprising amount of muscle. The motor isn’t the most refined, being louder than rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai when worked hard, but thanks to the wide power band, this isn’t often necessary. A little road noise is also audible at motorway speeds.

The ride in our 1.7-litre test car – fitted with 17-inch wheels – is also pretty relaxed, smoothing out bumps reasonably well. It doesn’t feel quite as serene as the closely related Hyundai Tucson, but the Sportage counters that with sharper handling. It’s no sports car, but the Kia is easy and safe to drive, with a slick gearbox and smooth clutch.

We also tried the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol model. Despite offering more power than the 1.7-litre diesel, the engine needs to be thrashed to make even brisk progress, making it a poor match for the Sportage.
The cabin feels a step above rivals such as the Qashqai in terms of quality, with solid construction and a tactile feel. It’s no Audi, but where cheaper materials are used, they’re hardly noticeable.

The layout of buttons on the dashboard could be clearer, however, and several early build test cars experienced total satnav meltdown during our drive, necessitating a complete system reboot by removing the satnav memory card.

Those in the rear won’t feel short-changed with plenty of head and legroom and supportive seatbacks. Throw in the ability to recline the rear seats and even six-footers should remain comfortable on longer journeys. The boot is large too, with some added underfloor storage.

Whole-life cost figures are yet to be released, but with the prospect of residual values a few percent higher than the current car (which already tops 40% in several cases), a comfortable cabin, economical diesel engines and a long kit list, the Sportage is likely to become a common sight in company car parks – especially in 119g/km 1.7-litre diesel form.

Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3

Model price range £17,995-£31,645
Fuel consumption 61.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 119g/km (21%)
Warranty 7yrs/100,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 491/1480 litres
Engine size/power 1685cc/116hp