The full Kia Sportage range is now on sale; sixteen different trim/engine/transmission permutations are available at prices ranging from a keen £16,645 to £26,170.
There are two-litre diesel and petrol engines, as well as a 1.7 litre diesel, and a 1.6-litre petrol with direct injection. The smaller-engined cars have manual transmissions and two-wheel drive while the two-litre cars are available in automatic or manual form and have four-wheel drive.
Kia was one of the first manufacturers to offer a two-wheel drive option on a car that looked like a fully-fledged SUV when it introduced the latest version of the larger Sorento last year, a lead that has been followed even by 4x4 specialist Land Rover with the Freelander and the forthcoming Evoque; the economy advantages of a two-wheel drive option for the majority of customers who never do any serious off-roading are becoming too great for the manufacturers to ignore.
Three trim levels are available, badged 1, 2 and 3; all-wheel drive versions carry the prefix KX, although there is no KX-1, as the 1 trim level is only available with the smaller engines which aren't paired with four-wheel drive.
The new Sportage is the latest Kia to benefit from the influence of the company's current design chief, Peter Schreyer and, like every new Kia since the cee'd, it represents a big advance on its predecessor in almost all respects; the Sportage is especially notable for its very good ride quality in comparison with most other small SUVs; in fact, despite its SUV-like appearance, Kia itself brackets the Sportage with crossovers such as the Nissan Qashqai which is an apt comparison given the Sportage's car-like on-road performance.
Prior to the introduction of the full range, Kia also sold a highly specified limited series of the new Sportage, badged First Edition. This represents something of a break with usual UK market practice, which is to use special editions as a means of maintaining interest in cars during the later stages of the model cycle, although it is more common for cars to be launched in limited edition form in continental markets; for example, Mercedes is offering the new second-generation CLS in a specced-up “Edition 1” version during the first year of production.