Latest Kia Sportage ‘is the best to date’

By Tony Conlon

Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around the enormous transition we are going through in terms of the many different types of power units now on offer to new car buyers.

My take on it is that motorists need to adopt a new mindset in the way they approach driving a hybrid, a PHEV or an all-electric vehicle. If a driver doesn’t work with the new technology, the investment in a new car will be for nothing.

Take the new Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): if anyone goes out and spends north of €40,000 on this SUV and thinks they are going to save the planet without using the vehicle as it should be used, they are fooling themselves and wasting their money.

To get the best out of a PHEV, its owner should charge it every day or night and regularly drive in EV mode. The car will cover up to 70km in that way. If you don’t charge the vehicle and drive it constantly on petrol power, you are defeating the real purpose of buying a PHEV and continuing to pollute the environment just like the hard-pressed motorist who does not have the wherewithal to change their old oil-burner diesel for a greener vehicle.

The new Sportage PHEV, like the hybrid version I drove previously, does almost exactly what the South Korean manufacturer claimed it would do. Driven with a green mindset, it covered almost the claimed distance in EV mode (66km) and by blending electric power with petrol, it consumed 5.4 litres per 100km (52mpg).

There is a Sportage to suit most people, and other power options consist of 1.6 litre mild hybrid petrol, 1.6 litre diesel and 1.6 litre mild hybrid diesel. A full EV will complete what really is a fine choice of power options.

For the Sportage plug-in hybrid, the compact turbo engine is part of an advanced powertrain that also features a 66.9kW permanent magnet traction electric motor and a 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.

Offering a combined output of 261bhp, the electric motor and 1.6 litre petrol engine use the latest-generation six-speed automatic transmission.

This fifth generation Sportage manages to combine a sleek, muscular exterior design with a cutting-edge premium interior that features an integrated curved display housing the latest advances in connectivity technology.

The crisp new design traits give the Sportage a more dramatic road presence. The frontal design links Kia’s modern signature tiger nose grille to distinctive LED daytime running lights.

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but this Kia is the prettiest SUV to come out of South Korea in a long time.

The Sportage has a nicely crafted cabin layout, comfortable seating, driving position, steering wheel-mounted controls and luggage compartment capacities from 540 to 1,715 litres in PHEV guise – only slightly less than the diesel model.

Kia claim the Sportage is one of the safest vehicles in its class, featuring the acclaimed driver assistance system (ADAS) technology and Kia’s forward collision avoidance assist system.

The car comes complete with active safety systems such as anti-lock braking with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control with downhill brake control, hill-start assist control, emergency-stop signalling and trailer stability control.

Refined, stable and comfortable, this latest Sportage – and the best to date – is simply a class act that comes with an excellent warranty.