At launch the Sportage comes with three engine options: a single 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol, either powering the Sportage alone, the other as a hybrid, and two 1.6-litre CRDi diesel options. A plug-in hybrid will follow.
We’ve driven the two petrol-engined cars. The base 1.6 is a four-cylinder engine with 115PS (84 kW) through the front wheels and either a manual gearbox or a mild-hybrid assisted seven-speed DCT and the full hybrid model, which is also available as two or four-wheel-drive and produces 229PS (168kW).
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the two drivetrains is that the performance differences feel remarkably small. The 1.6-petrol is not setting the world alight, but with 200kg less to lug around (the petrol weighs 1,500kg to the AWD hybrid’s 1,700 and the FWD hybrids 1,650) the difference in acceleration feels lower than it actually is. Perhaps the key change is that the hybrid acts as torque-fill for the Sportage. Rev the pure petrol without changing down a gear and the Kia will barely react, whereas the hybrid will leap much more favourably into action with sudden power requests.
The difference in fuel economy is also quite low, jumping from a reported WLTP of 41.5mpg for the petrol to 44.1 for the AWD hybrid. The pure numbers on performance also not massively different: 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds for the petrol, 8.0 for the hybrid. (As a comparison the DCT mild-hybrid has the worst figures for mpg at 40.4 and only pushes the 62 sprint to 9.4 seconds). A switch to the front-driven hybrid does make more of a difference, pushing the mpg up to 48.7 and 0-60 down to 7.7 seconds, but it’s really not enough compared to rival hybrid systems.
On the road, the Sportage feels relatively stiffly sprung, but the damping is good, soaking up the road chatter in most situations. On country roads that firmness means a reasonably quick response to inputs, without too much wallow or understeer even from the front-driven petrol. The steering feels barely connected to the road, like the old one, and every now and then that stiffer chassis means larger potholes will shatter through the cabin in a disconcerting manner. There was a small amount of torque steer from the FWD car, even though the petrol is only putting out 250Nm (184lb ft), but nothing concerning. While the hybrid is heavier it doesn’t feel it in the corners.