The development of Kia has been fascinating to watch these past couple of decades.
Having existed in the wilderness beforehand, it first became an imitator of European car design, and then something of a precocious master of it. The company now has a range of very attractive showroom models; from Stonic to Soul to Ceed to Proceed to Stinger, you’ll notice them when you see one, and for the right reasons. Suddenly the company has a legacy; something to lose. So what now?
Well, it’s evidently not afraid to take a risk. If this new version of the Sportage compact SUV is any useful guide, its next design chapter might be entitled ‘bold and avant garde’ rather than ‘studiously practised and accomplished’. The fifth-generation Sportage isn’t a ‘pretty’ car - clearly, it isn’t intended to be - but, just as the breakthrough third-generation model was, it’s a statement all right. Its form is supposedly “inspired by nature”. It’s intended to look “sophisticated and organic”.
It’s certainly predatory. To these eyes, the car’s bursting, angular primary features look a little like they belong to something an oily Sigourney Weaver might once have levelled a flamethrower at. Glossy black contrasting body trim completes the sci-fi aesthetic, which you won’t forget in a hurry. Is it distinctive? You betcha. ‘Assertive’ even, as Kia itself prefers. Attractive? I’m not convinced.