Kia has evolved its popular family SUV and given it a far more up-market look and vastly improved engine technology. If you’re in the market for a mid-sized crossover through the Motability Scheme, the fifth generation Sportage is a great option that deserves a place on your shortlist.
The Kia Sportage range is back on the Motability Scheme, price from £399 Advance Payment for the 1.6T GDi '2' trim (section updated November 2023).
The Kia's Sportage is one of the most prolifically-selling cars South Korea has ever brought us. Europe likes this model line very much, which is why Europe has been given its own bespoke version of this car in this fifth generation guise. In place of the long wheelbase version sold in other world markets, our continent gets a shorter, sportier-looking version of the MK5 design which apparently has been tuned for our roads as well as for our preference in the size of our Qashqai-class family SUVs.
It's certainly the most daringly-styled Sportage yet, both inside and out, with much borrowed from Kia's all-electric EV6, a similarly sized model which relieves the brand of the need to provide a full-battery version of this crossover. Mind you, it's possible to have just about anything else electrified beneath the bonnet, thanks to engineering shared across the board with this car's competitor and close cousin, the Hyundai Tucson. Let's take a look.
So: choose your flavour of hybrid; mild, full or plug-in. All three forms are available here, based around the same 1.6 litre T-GDI petrol engine. Diesel power is no longer available. And there's no full-Electric version because this car's showroom stablemate, the EV6, fills that role says Kia. Because the brand's European division had to create a shorter Sportage design for their continent, they took the opportunity to more closely tailor ride and handling for the needs of European drivers.
The mainstream engine options start with a conventional 1.6-litre unit in 148bhp form, available either in unlectrified form with manual transmission or in mild hybrid 48V guise with a 7-speed DCT auto. The two top 'proper' Hybrid petrol models only come with an auto. The full-Hybrid HEV Sportage variant delivers the 1.6 T-GDI engine with a 44.2kW electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery delivering a total output of 226bhp. With top-spec trim, the HEV Hybrid can also be had with AWD. The top PHEV Plug-in variant only comes in AWD form and uses the same engine paired to a 66.9kW electric motor powered by 13.8kWh battery to give a total output of 261bhp and an electric driving range of around 35 miles.
In all its guises, this Sportage is superbly refined. Like its rivals, it's never likely to feel fun or entertaining; the steering is particularly light and relatively feel-less, though that's great in town. But there's plenty of cornering grip, it's wieldy on urban roads, easy to park and a quiet highway cruiser, with the usual semi-autonomous driving tools available to take the strain out of long trips.
Like the all-electric EV6, this MK5 Sportage has been designed under Kia's 'Opposite United' ethos. Which you could guess from a glance at the visual elements the two models share - the boomerang-style headlights, swollen rear arches, the concave tailgate shaping and the prominent spoiler. Europe gets a short wheelbase version of this model - and won't be offered the longer version of this design available to other world markets, both variants sitting on the same N3 platform that undergirds this car's close cousin, the identically engineered Hyundai Tucson.
Shared parentage with the EV6 is also evident inside, where the dashboard gets a gently curved display incorporating two 12.3-inch digital screens. Other key controls are operated via a row of multimedia haptic buttons, which can change function depending on drive mode selection. Though the European Sportage is 85mm shorter than the long wheelbase global model, it's 30mm longer than the previous generation design and that frees up 10mm more wheelbase length for a couple of adults to sit comfortably in the rear - three at a pinch. The boot is around 10% bigger than before too, Kia claiming 591-litres of stowage space.
At launch there are the usual Kia '2', 'GT-Line', '3', '4' and 'GT-Line S' trim levels.
Across the range, connectivity's a strongpoint - not only with the large 12.3-inch cabin screens (both for the instrument cluster and the centre stack monitor) but also with telematics. The brand also offers its 'Kia Connect' smartphone app which allows customers to connect remotely with their cars. A clever 'User Profile Transfer' feature enables users to back up their in-vehicle Kia Connect preferences via the cloud and transfer settings from one vehicle to the next. Top 'GT-Line S' variants get an upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system.
In all its forms, this Kia is fitted with a wide array of Advanced Driver Assistance System technology - what Kia calls 'Drivewise' features. There's a 'Forward-Collision Avoidance assist system with Junction Turning' that should help you avoid collisions at junctions; and 'Highway Driving Assist' helps you maintain a set distance to the car in front and keeps this Kia in the middle of its lane. This Sportage can also offer Blind Spot Assistance and a navigation-based cruise control system that automatically reduces speed for the corners. With top spec, there's even a Remote Smart Parking Assist system that can park the car for you into tight spaces while you stand outside it controlling things from the key fob.
Let's get to the WLTP figures. The base unelectrified manual model returns 41.5mpg on the combined cycle and 154g/km of CO2. The 48V mild hybrid auto version of the company's 1.6 T-GDI Smartstream petrol drivetrain puts out 147g/km of CO2 and should return 43.5mpg on the combined cycle.
The full-Hybrid HEV petrol model improves that showing to 129g/km and 49.6mpg in 2WD form (146g/km and 37.7mpg in AWD HEV form). For the PHEV AWD model, it's 25g/km and 252mpg, along with an all-electric driving range of around 35 miles. Charging a PHEV Sportage from a 3-pin ICCB supply takes 6 hours and 30 minutes (empty to 95%). Use the kind of 7kW wallbox you'd obviously install at home if you were to choose a Plug-in Hybrid and that time drops to 1 hour and 42 minutes.
In theory, a lot of boxes have been ticked here. This fifth generation Sportage has been aligned in size and drive dynamics more closely to the needs of our market. It offers new full-Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid engine options in a class where rivals typically only provide either one or the other. And the smart cabin finally puts paid to any memory of Kia's budget brand roots.
But the South Korean maker's now not afraid to charge decent money for this car. And it must face a set of very determined rivals, not least Nissan's Qashqai, the segment sales leader. This Sportage though, having long been edging closer to its Japanese arch-rival, now feels ready to bother it more acutely in this fifth generation form. If you're looking for a Motability car in this segment, it's a car you have to try.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Kia Sportage through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Kia dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.