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What is the Kia Sportage?

The Kia Sportage is a family SUV on sale in a very competitive area of the car market - taking on all manner of mid-sized SUVs from the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai to the Peugeot 3008, SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq

In fact, the Sportage itself is one of the most popular cars in the UK, having gone from being a back-to-basics 4x4 to desirable family car in around 25 years, which is an impressive turnaround. 

At-a-glance 2019 Kia Sportage specs

  • Top speed: 109-127mph
  • 0-62mph: 8.8-11.6 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 36-58mpg
  • Emissions: 126/179g/km of CO2
  • Boot space: 491-1,480 litres

Which versions of the Kia Sportage are available?

Kia’s Mk4 Sportage – or QL to use its internal codename – was introduced in 2016 continuing on from where its strongly selling predecessor left-off.

Still only available as a five-door SUV, the Kia Sportage was slightly larger, even better equipped, impeccably built and just a little bit more interesting to look at, outside at least.

Such is the pace of development with Korea brands that the Sportage was facelifted in 2018, with a makeover that gave it a passing resemblance to the Porsche Macan, right down to the four dots of LED daytime-running lights on higher spec models.

It was at the 2018 facelift that the petrol and diesel engines were joined by a 48-volt diesel-electric mild-hybrid to boost both efficiency and performance.

Trim levels follow Kia’s usual themes of 1, 2, 3 and 4, topped by GT-Line and GT-Line S with sportier-looking overtones.

Kia Sportage styling and engineering

Clearly an evolution of the Mk3 Sportage’s styling, the fourth-generation has bigger, bolder and arguably fussier detailing, but it remains a handsome SUV.

Strip away the bodywork and you’ll find a virtually identical version of the platform that also underpins the Hyundai Tucson, including the suite of engines.

Most Sportages are front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive (AWD) is also available on selected models – it’s doubtful whether many UK customers actually need that, though.

Is the Kia Sportage good to drive?

It’s unlikely that you’re going to choose to drive a Sportage because of how rewarding the experience will be, but nevertheless the Kia’s neat and competent, albeit with light steering.

Choose one of the lower-powered petrol or diesel versions and you’re unlikely to be enamoured by the insipid performance – it’s not a light car, after all.

Overall, it’s comfy and stable, with good body control resulting in little rolling about through sweeping bends.

Tidy, but unexciting.

How much does the Kia Sportage cost?

Kias have long-since stopped being cheap, but they are good-value for money, with high levels of standard equipment and one of the longest new car warranties available.

On PCH and PCP finance they’re not always the cheapest options, though. Right now you’ll get a better deal on a Ford Kuga, for instance.

See how drivers of the Kia Sportage rate their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

Kia Sportage Model History

Current generation Kia Sportage model history

February 2016 – New Sportage goes on sale in a choice of 1, 2, 3, 4, GT-Line and First Edition trims. Engines available include 1.6-litre GDi petrol, a 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol, 1.7-litre CRDi diesel and a 2.0-litre CRDi diesel. Depending on the engine chosen, there’s a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, as well as front- or all-wheel drive.

July 2018 – Facelifted Kia Sportage goes on sale with tweaks to the exterior styling, more premium materials inside and new range of engines. They include 2.0-litre CRDi mild-hybrid diesel, new 1.6-litre CRDi to replace the 1.7. Trims made up of 1, 2, 4, GT-Line, GT-Line S and Edition 25 models.

Third-generation Kia Sportage (2010-16)

Kia Sportage Mk3

Suddenly, with the introduction of the Mk3 Sportage (SL-generation) in 2010, Kia had transformed the model from being an also-ran to a must-have crossover.

Its bold styling, was the work of Peter Schreyer, a stylist who’d previously worked at Audi – it’s no coincidence that some of the Sportage’s design elements show similar themes to the German marque’s Q3 and Q5 models – those light units set in the rear bumper, being a noteworthy tell-tale.

This Sportage was a statement of confidence from the brand – as was the enormous Kia logo set in the centre of the distinctive grille.

Not only were levels build quality and on-board technology heightened, that added desirability factor enabled Kia to sell 95,626 Mk3 Sportages in the UK over its six-year lifecycle.

Read our user-generated third-generation Sportage owners’ reviews and browse used cars for sale.

Second-generation Kia Sportage (2005-10)

Kia Sportage Mk2

Kia’s second iteration of Sportage (the JE/KM-type) was doubly significant for the brand.

Most importantly, this was the first time that Kia had employed an all-in-one construction method for its SUV range, using the same basic underpinnings as the contemporary Mentor saloon and Shuma hatchback. Theoretically this would make it better to drive and more efficient to run.

Also, after the first two years were all of this generation of Sportage hailed from Korea, from 2007 onwards assembly was at Kia’s Slovakian plant.

Sportage customers had a choice of a petrol 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine or a much thirstier 2.7-litre V6, but inevitably most went for the more efficient diesels, particularly the CRDi motor introduced in 2007.

After just five years on sale, Kia had sold 23,371 Mk2 Sportages to British customers.

Discover what drivers think of their second-generation Sportages in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.

First-generation Kia Sportage (1995-04)

Kia Sportage Mk1

Back in the early-1990s, the automotive landscape was very different, dominated by hatchbacks and saloons – even MPVs were still in their infancy.

There was, however, a slowly emerging SUV movement. Rough, tough and usually large off-roaders had existed for years, but less expensive ones were few and far between: Suzuki had its SJ and Vitara ranges, while Toyota was on the cusp of launching the RAV4.

Kia’s first Sportage (the NB-7) surfed on that initial wave of interest: revealed in 1993, British sales began in summer 1995, and always of the five-door SUV bodystyle. Other markets also received a shorter, three-door convertible and a longer Grand Sportage.

Notably, like the traditional SUVs already on sale at the time, the Mk1 Sportage had its body attached to a separate frame underneath – a construction method now that’s a rarity, even for serious off-roaders.

Although most of this generation of Sportage originated from Korea, Kia also had an agreement with Karmann of Germany to assemble them. In total 10,879 Sportages of this generation were sold in Britain before stocks ran out in 2004.

Find out if the original Kia Sportage is a reliable choice with our owners’ reviews and find examples for sale.