We head off for a visit down reminiscence lane, taking all 5 generations of the Kia Sportage for a spin…
Initially launched in 1993, the Kia Sportage has been the spine of the South Korean model’s exceptional success story.
The favored family-sized SUV’s evolution completely displays the producer’s fast rise since its single-model debut in 1991.
Simply to place that into context – in yr one the little Kia Pleasure achieved 1,786 gross sales. In 2022, Kia handed the necessary milestone of 100,000 gross sales per yr, and 2023 is on monitor to be even higher.
Over that point, Kia has developed a stable popularity for high quality, reliability, design aptitude and innovation.
What’s extra, the model has turn into a driving pressure within the change to electrification with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and 100% electrical fashions in its line-up.
To mark the Sportage’s thirtieth birthday, Kia gave us the chance to pattern all 5 generations. An interesting day driving the fashions back-to-back, and right here’s what we thought…
First era (1993-2003)
UK gross sales: 10,897
The Kia Sportage was first launched within the Asian automobile market in 1993, reaching the UK in 1995. The instance from the Kia heritage fleet we drove is a particular version all-wheel drive 2.0-litre XSE from its remaining yr of manufacturing. It could look boxy and dated, nevertheless it’s surprisingly spacious and refined. Sure, the dealing with is wallowy, the gear change is a tad notchy and the seating place is especially excessive within the rear, nevertheless it’s highly effective sufficient and compares properly with a Toyota RAV4 of the identical classic.
Second era (2005-10)
UK gross sales: 23,371
Following a two-year break, the Sportage returned in 2005. Greater and extra grown-up, it featured mod cons akin to central locking, adjustable wing mirrors and a CD participant. Gaining a popularity for reliability over its manufacturing run, there was additionally additional area within the rear, a noticeable uplift in high quality and a extra composed really feel on the highway. The Sportage was going locations. The heritage mannequin we sampled was an XE 2.0-litre diesel (CRDi) all-wheel drive from 2007 – the yr manufacturing of the Sportage moved from South Korea to Zilina, Slovakia, the place the Sportage remains to be constructed at present.
Third era (2010-16)
UK gross sales: 95,626
With one other huge leap in high quality, the Sportage bulked up and have become a significant participant within the SUV market. Little quirks have been lastly ironed out (the indicator moved from the correct to the left-hand facet of the steering wheel), there was but extra space within the again for passengers, and it picked up a prestigious 5-star Euro NCAP security ranking. Extra comfy than ever, trendy touches embody a USB port and a distant key fob, no much less. The KX-3 AWD we drove dated from 2011, and although the two.0-litre petrol engine lacked a few of the punch of the diesel from the earlier era, the automobile itself handles properly and has stood the take a look at of time properly and remains to be a stable second-hand SUV alternative.
Fourth era (2016-22)
UK gross sales: 197,547
Kia hit the jackpot with the curvaceous fourth-generation Sportage, which remains to be a cracking automobile. Surprisingly dynamic to drive for an SUV, it was additionally comfy and spacious. The primary Sportage to be provided with an electrified possibility (a light hybrid mannequin joined the petrol and diesel choices in 2018), the Mk4 is so good that it may nonetheless be on sale at present. The truth is, the one age giveaways are the guide handbrake, the modest infotainment display and a liberal dose of buttons and dials.
Fifth era (2022-)
The very best simply acquired higher. The most recent model of the Sportage was launched in 2022, delivering a profitable mix of hanging seems to be, hi-tech inside, practicality, prime security options, driving engagement and massive bang to your bucks. Topped What Automobile? ‘Greatest Household SUV’, it’s out there as a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), Hybrid Electrical (HEV) and Gentle Hybrid (MHEV). In PHEV kind it has a theoretical gasoline financial system of 252mpg, and an emissions-free EV driving vary of as much as 43 miles. And as ever, the Sportage provides peace of thoughts as a result of it’s backed by Kia beneficiant seven-year guarantee.
So, Kia has now established itself as one of many prime 5 automobile manufacturers within the UK – an excellent feat in simply three many years. The truth is, since its 1991 debut, it’s offered some 1.5 million vehicles within the UK alone.
And in July 2023, Kia UK reached the 50,000 EV gross sales milestone, an necessary step in its journey to having 9 EVs by 2027.