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First drive: Kia Sportage

Date: 25 January 2022   |   Author: Martyn Collins

Kia's family SUV gets a sharp new look and hybrid powertrain options - is it enough to stir up the opposition?
Standard equipment:
17in alloy wheels, LED headlights and DRLs, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, 8in touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, electrically folding adjustable and heated door mirrors, automatic lights and wipers, autonomous emergency braking, lane follow assist, lane keep assist, intelligent speed limit assist.
Petrol: 150hp 1.6
Petrol mild hybrid: 150hp 1.6
Diesel: 115hp 1.6
Diesel mild hybrid: 136hp 1.6
Petrol hybrid: 229hp 1.6
Petrol plug-in hybrid: 265hp 1.6
Equipment grades:
2, GT-Line, 3, 4, GT-Line S
Six-speed manual, six-speed auto, seven-speed auto

The third-generation Sportage was a key car in the reinvention of the Korean Kia car brand. The first two generations of Sportage performed well enough but were unremarkable to look at. Yet, it was all change for the third generation, with its crisp Peter Schreyer-penned lines proving that Kia wasn't just interested in being known as a high-value brand, but also wanted to be known for its designs too. 

The most recent fourth-generation Sportage design was perhaps safer, but no less attractive. However, it's all changed for this new fifth-generation car. Described by Kia as 'bold and daring', you certainly won't miss this latest model or mistake it for something else - which we think is a good thing. 

At the front, there are boomerang-shaped LED driving lights, which along with the Matrix LED headlights are pushed to the far corners - nibbling into the front wings. Then, there is the large grille, which is a reinvention of the 'Tiger Nose' styling that Kia has become so well known for and on the Sportage, stretches high into the bonnet line. Plus, a distinctive front air dam that's also mostly made up of grille. 

The side features some neat metal surfacing, with the shoulder line arching upward like the window line towards the rear. While the back looks similar to the range-topping EV6 that was launched recently, with the rear light bar stretching across the boot - cutting into the curvy rear spoiler. This was all broken up on our GT-Line test car with black and chrome detailing. 

The inside of the Sportage is equally revolutionary, as this Kia also gets the futuristic dual-screen display from the EV6. Like the EV6, the displays are sharp and easy to use. Also first seen in the EV6 is the clever centre panel, which allows you to swap between navigation or heating controls, removing the need for fiddly touchscreen controls relied on by rivals. 

The basic dashboard design is clean, modern and the driving position is comfortable - even for the tallest. Quality is impressive, although the bottom of the dashboard and centre console is finished in disappointingly hard plastic that looks like it would scratch easily. Rear space is best described as average, with decent headroom, despite the glass roof fitted to our early German test car. Although boot space is up to 587 litres - which can be extended to 1,776 litres with the rear seats folded. It is a flat loading space, too. 

The new Sportage range is made up of the familiar 2, GT-Line, 3, 4, and GT-Line S equipment grades. 

Engine options include a 150hp petrol (also available as a mild hybrid), a 115hp diesel, a 136hp mild hybrid diesel, a 229hp petrol hybrid, and a 265hp petrol plug-in hybrid, with the latter joining the range during Q1 2022.

Transmission options are six-speed manual and six- or seven-speed automatic, and there is a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, depending on spec.

Our test car, from the German international launch was in GT-Line spec and fitted with the 229hp petrol hybrid engine. This combines a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine with a 59hp electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery, with 0-62mph acceleration in just 8.3 seconds. In reality, this Sportage never feels that quick, although it is always willing. It mostly starts off in electric mode, so Kia have added what sounds like a 'whooshing' noise to make it feel keener off the mark that it perhaps is. When the petrol engine is needed, the transition is impressively smooth, although sudden acceleration does result in harsh engine noise.  

Refined and relaxed best sum up the drive, but the Sportage is a tidy handler with precise steering. The only disappointments being the steering's lack of feel and slightly harsh ride. However, there are caveats as this car was on winter tyres and fitted with electronically controlled 'active' dampers that won't be available in the UK. So, we'll reserve final judgement until we get a drive in a UK car - which will be soon. 

This drive shows the Mk5 Sportage offers impressive refinement, is a decent drive and looks interesting. We look forward to driving a UK car to give a definitive verdict.

Kia Sportage GT-Line Hybrid 

P11D: £33,020

Residual value: £14,518

Depreciation: £18,502

Fuel: £8,131

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,670

Cost per mile: 48.8p

Fuel consumption: 48.7mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 129g/km (29%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £159/£319

Luggage capacity: 587 litres

Engine size/power: 1,599cc/226hp


  • Interesting looks
  • Refined drive
  • Attractive and stylishly designed interior
  • Unsettled ride
  • Styling might not appeal to all