What is it?
This is the refreshed, restyled, fourth-generation Sportage, Kia’s best chance of toppling the Nissan Qashqai as the nation’s favourite mid-size SUV.
Numbers suggest that’s an achievable goal: the Sportage accounts for nearly a third of the brand’s UK sales and, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), last month the Sportage ranked as the tenth best-selling new car in the UK.
So how to go about doing conquering the Qashqai? An exterior nip and tuck has sharpened up the Kia’s looks for 2018, while safety and in-cabin technology have received upgrades over the outgoing model.
The engine line-up has also been expanded, with a mild hybrid added to the range for the first time. We drove that variant on European roads earlier in the year, but this is our first chance to experience the Sportage here in the UK.
Unlike that initial drive in a GT-Line trim variant, however, today’s test car is in '2' specification, meaning it uses the entry-level engine and six-speed manual gearbox. The naturally aspirated, 1.6-litre petrol engine gains a particulate filter to help meet emissions standards, but performance remains unchanged.
That means 130bhp and 161lb ft has to propel 1490kg of mid-size SUV entirely through the front axle, with four-wheel drive reserved for the upper end of the model range.