The previous Sportage didn’t need a lot of fixing, yet the new one surprises you with how altered it seems: on styling theme, mechanical content and dynamic compromise.

Like the outgoing model, the new Sportage is practical and good value. Unlike the last one, it hits a sufficiently high mark on grip and agility, material quality and equipment specification to feel almost as sophisticated as any European volume-brand rival.

Mixed-up crossover reboot fails to recapture its forebear’s likable character

Despite that, the car’s appeal relative to its peers has probably waned slightly, partly due to an increasingly packed segment but at least as much because of Kia’s questionable redesign and misjudged retuning efforts.

But between its overly firm ride, numb steering, undernourished engine and copycat looks, it’s hard to see how the Sportage we tested is a big improvement on what went before.

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