The latest Sportage has been on sale for a year, but it’s certainly made its mark in a short time, with the choice of ICE, self-charging hybrid, mild hybrid, and PHEV versions of Kia’s medium SUV earning it the coveted New Company Car of the Year title at the 2022 Business Car Awards. 

With the Sportage PHEV’s ability to travel up to 43 miles on the combined cycle, and 48 miles on the urban cycle on electric power alone, we took the opportunity to spend more time with the plug-in. This time in the more fleet-friendly 3 equipment grade, which, like the rest of the Sportage PHEV range, falls into the 8% company car tax band for 2022/23, 23/24 and 24/25. The Sportage PHEV is expected to account for around 10% of sales, with Kia predicting a 63/37 fleet/retail sales split.

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.  

This Sportage is powered by the familiar 178hp, 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine. This is combined with a 90hp electric motor and a 13.8kWh battery pack, equalling a total of 261hp and maximum torque of 350Nm. 

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 we feel the focus here is on maximum miles per gallon rather than off-road ability.  

All the recent Kia models have demonstrated that the Korean brand is developing its own style. Outside, the only change to the latest Sportage’s bold styling, is the extra charging point on the right-hand side. However, like us, the public have been quick to realise how good the latest Sportage is, as there are plenty of UK registered Sportages on the road and the distinctive styling doesn’t stand out as much as it did before.  

This Kia’s boomerang-shaped LED driving lights, matrix LED headlights and the large grille still stand out against blander opposition. The side features some neat metal surfacing too, with the rear light bar stretching across the boot. Our 3 test car was perhaps more unusual, as it was finished in Premium Experience Green, a colour we hadn’t seen on the Sportage before and was a bit reserved for the styling. 

The inside of the Sportage matches the bold exterior, with the futuristic dual-screen display, that is pleasingly easy to operate and boasts sharp graphics. It is not as new as it was, but the centre control panel, which can swap between navigation or heating controls, still impresses. The metal detailing and the almost obligatory piano black trim are also well executed.  

Interior space is good – especially at the front. Rear space is just average, – although the standard glass sunroof eats into the headroom. 

The only compromise is that boot space drops from 587 litres to 540 litres thanks to the battery pack. That can be extended to 1,715 litres with the rear seats folded and it’s a flat load space thankfully.  

The 3 grade we have here is expected to be the top fleet-seller. As you’d expect from a Kia it is well-equipped, although after spending time in another range-topping GT-Line S model, we really missed the eight-speaker JBL stereo and adaptive cruise control system. 

On the road, this Sportage feels largely the same as the last one we drove at the launch. Yet, despite it being fitted with the same sized wheels, the low-speed ride, although harsh, was better than we remember. However, the PHEV version still feels like it has different suspension settings thanks to the hybrid kit, giving a more unsettled ride compared to other Sportages we’ve driven. The ride does get 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.

The transitions between this Sportage’s power plants are generally smooth – unless you accelerate hard – then it can be boomy as the engine goes up the rev range.  Performance is best described as willing rather than fast, with 0-60mph acceleration in just 7.9 seconds. 

As we’ve said before, the Sportage is a fine SUV, still well deserving of our two awards. In 3-spec PHEV form, it is good to drive, with interesting styling inside and out and low running costs. Although, if budget allows, we’d choose the GT-Line S for its welcome extra standard kit.

Kia Sportage 3 1.6 T-GDi PHEV AWD  

P11D: £40,308

Residual value: TBC

Depreciation: TBC

Fuel: TBC

Service, maintenance and repair: TBC

Cost per mile: TBC

Fuel consumption: 252 mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 25g/km (8%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £54/£107

Luggage capacity: 540 litres

Engine size/power: 1,599cc/261hp