Sibling rivalry. Always the fiercest kind, isn’t it? The Kia Sportage is Kia’s bestselling model in Ireland since 2010 and pits itself against the all-conquering Hyundai Tucson or the IX35 before that.
The current Tucson was Irelands runaway bestselling car in 2021 and seems on track to repeat that stellar performance. The Sportage finished in 10th spot, and I reckon Kia think with this new model they will do a lot better this year. I’d be confident that they will too.
For a start the new Sportage is strikingly different but strangely familiar.
The design of the exterior catches your eye instantly as did the Tucson with its unique segregated front and rear lights. Kia went a different way and have angular / razor light clusters front and rear.
The rear has a lovely, sculpted channel across the back and the sides have appealing contours done with some panache. There’s a smattering of chrome and a sporty rear bumper that hints at burbling exhausts but house the reverse and fog lights.
Fake exhausts were something that was always laughed at, but when a manufacture does it they tend to get away with it apart from social media wannabes who delight in showing that no exhaust gas ever comes out of them. We know, it’s not as important a discovery as you’d think.
My questionable Sportage design stroke is the different levels of the side chrome that’s not joined up. It looks majorly mis-matched and for me, wrong. The overall rating I’d give the looks are classy, cool and desirable and good qualities to assist the all-out attack on the Tucson.
Inside is where it really gets good. You get two 12.3” displays – one for the driver and one for the infotainment. That’s basically more than half the width of the car. It’s the same level of screen as a Mercedes S Class from not too long ago. And, and it’s a big and, the software that’s predominantly touch is easy to use and not glitchy. I don’t say that often.
Below the central screen are multi-mode controls for ventilation and entertainment that change use on your selection and are lifted straight from the futuristic EV6 and are a bit of a standout feature.
I had the hybrid version in K3 trim and I reckon it’s the pick of the range. The central console houses the drive selector control knob as well as the heated seats/ steering wheel controls, camera selector, hill descent and drive mode. It looks cohesive with everything geared towards the driver.
There’s an ambient light colour to suit your mood and I really likes the design of the air vents and door handles.
It is a superb cabin and at the top of the range you can get seats that will cool you down as well as wireless charging which I think should nowadays always be standard.
There is also Kia’s dedicated app, Kia Connect, that provides a host of remote car functions, realtime information and guidance. A nifty feature of the app is the ability to advise you if you left the car running when in Park mode or if you left the windows open. Dedicated car apps are really getting better and better.
I’ve one major observation about the Sportage I drove. It really is quiet. Noise intrusion is very minimal at any speed and the isolation from the outside world is welcome and serene. I don’t know who buys an SUV expecting a sporty ride and the Sportage, even in Sport mode, could never live up to the promised billing. It is more comfortable and cosseting. It’ll handle the bends and the surfaces ok, but the steering feels light and feel and feedback isn’t its strength.
The Sportage will carry 5 adults easily and has a decent 587 litre luggage compartment extendable to 1,776 litres with the rear seats folded.
I managed a fuel return of 6.8l/100kms during my time with it that could be improved and bear in mind this car has an acceleration ability to deliver 100km/h in 8 seconds, so it’s no slouch. A key selling point for Kia is the 7 year / 150,000km warranty and compares equally favourable with Hyundai’s 5-year unlimited warranty.
Kia’s flagship Sportage has, with this newest version, been given a whole new flagship modernisation. I’d say the technology on board is as good as anything on sale and for my hybrid version at €43,150 represents incredible value against competitors.
The Tucson will probably be this year’s best-seller again, but the Sportage will do very well as well and I reckon will move a few places higher up in the list of top 10 here in Ireland.
We should be thankful that these siblings are always nipping away at each other because in trying to outdo each other the quality of each car delivered just gets better and better and better with us motorists get all the benefit. Long may they be rivals.
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