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We try what Kia is calling its most business-friendly Sportage ever - the plug-in hybrid version.
19in alloy wheels, LED headlights and DRLs, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, an 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, hill start assist
The latest Sportage has only been on sale a matter of months, but we've already driven the self-charging and 48v mild-hybrid versions of the new car. Now it's the turn of the new PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid) versions, which alongside the others mentioned and diesel and petrol, completes the Sportage range.
The fact that Kia sells nine other electrified models in the UK, with plans for many more in the future, makes a Sportage PHEV version inevitable. Powered by its familiar 178hp, 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol, this engine is combined with a 90hp electric motor and a 13.8kWh battery pack, producing a total of 261hp and maximum torque of 304Nm.
This new PHEV drivetrain is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, with the added security of four-wheel drive traction and even a Terrain mode alongside Mud, Snow and Sand - although with all the hybrid kit, we're not sure how capable this Sportage would be off-road.
Of more interest to fleet buyers is the fact that the Sportage PHEV can travel up to 43 miles on the combined cycle, and 48 miles on the urban cycle on electric power alone. These figures are impressive, but they are also enough to put the Sportage PHEV into the 8% company car tax band for 2022/23, 23/24 and 24/25.
More interesting, considering Kia is owned by Hyundai, is the fact that the Sportage has more EV only range than its sister car, the Tucson PHEV, which is only capable of 38 miles, meaning the Hyundai falls into a higher band. Expected to account for around 10% of sales, Kia is predicting a 63/37 fleet to retail sales split for the Sportage PHEV.
Outside, apart from the extra charging point on the right-hand side, the rest of the "bold and daring" styling of the Sportage is unchanged. It is funny how after a couple of months on sale, plus plenty of UK registered Sportages already with buyers, the distinctive styling doesn't stand out as much as it did before. The front is still dominated by the boomerang-shaped LED driving lights, matrix LED headlights and the large grille.
The side features some neat metal surfacing, and with the rear light bar stretching across the boot - there are similarities to the range-topping EV6. Maybe it was down to the Blue Flame paint and black trim toning down our 4 grade test car's styling details.
The inside of the Sportage is both revolutionary and attractive, as this Kia gets the futuristic dual-screen display from the EV6. Like the EV6, these displays are easy to operate, with sharp graphics. There's also the clever centre control panel first seen on the EV6, that can swap between navigation or heating controls. This is on top of some well-executed metal detailing for the dashboard and the almost obligatory piano black trim.
General interior space is good - especially up front. Rear space is more average, although there's still decent headroom - despite the glass sunroof fitted. Although boot space drops from 587 litres to 540 litres thanks to the battery pack, it can be extended to 1,715 litres with the rear seats folded and is a flat loading space, too.
The new Sportage PHEV range is made up of the familiar GT-Line, 3, 4, and GT-Line S equipment grades - all are well-equipped, with the expected top fleet-seller, being the 3 grade.
On the road, the Sportage PHEV largely feels the same as the standard car, although the low-speed ride might be harsher - could this be down to different suspension settings thanks to the extra weight of all the hybrid kit? Although the standard 19in wheels fitted to the 4 grade could also be to blame. It is also worth mentioning that the ride gets better with speed and is refined enough on the motorway. The steering is also pleasingly precise, and despite its loftier stance, this Kia is a decent handler.
When the petrol engine is needed, the transition is impressively smooth, in fact the only way you'll be able to notice this change is via the instruments, although sharp acceleration can result in some boom as the engine has to work harder. Despite 0-62mph acceleration in just 7.9 seconds, we'd describe this Sportage as feeling more willing that quick.
In PHEV form, the latest Sportage remains a decent drive, which is well-equipped, with interesting styling inside and out. However, the PHEV version gives added refinement, plus offers impressive EV only range that will equal real running cost savings for company buyers. No wonder Kia were top of the UK sales chart in the first quarter of this year.