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Kia gives big-selling Sportage SUV a facelift - plus diesel hybrid tech

By Paul Connolly

Kia is revamping its popular Sportage model, with an internal and external redesign and the addition of some hybrid powertrain technology.

The company announced this week a range of enhancements to the SUV, its biggest-selling car in both the UK and around the world.

Changes include an updated exterior and cabin, a revised engine line-up that includes mild hybrid assistance for a diesel engine.

The facelift also includes reduced CO2 emissions and new technologies including upgraded infotainment and active driver safety aids.

The Sportage actually dates from 1993, although the first generation models were never sold in the UK or even Europe, and was mostly discontinued around 2003.

However, the Sportage bounced back a couple of years later in second generation form.

This was a vastly improved model that went on sale around the world, including in the UK, and quickly gained traction amongst buyers.

Fast forward to 2015, and the current model, now in its fourth generation, has become Kia\s biggest seller globally.

This week, Kia announced the latest refresh, with the new-look Sportages going on sale in the third quarter of this year.

The biggest innovation is the advanced new EcoDynamic+ 48V diesel mild-hybrid powertrain.

This is first part of Kia’s worldwide powertrain electrification strategy and sees Kia as the first manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology across its full model line-up.

Kia will launch 16 advanced powertrain vehicles by 2025, including five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five battery-electric vehicles and, in 2020, a new fuel-cell electric vehicle.

The new Sportage will a wider range of engines, including the new EcoDynamics+ 2.0-litre ‘R’ diesel mild-hybrid powertrain.

EcoDynamics+ supplements acceleration with power from a 48-volt battery, and extends engine ‘off time’ with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator unit.

It can reduce CO2 emissions by up to four per cent on the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), according to the manufacturer.

The Sportage’s existing 1.7-litre CRDi (Common-Rail Direct injection) diesel engine has been replaced with a more efficient new 1.6-litre ‘U3’ CRDi engine, the cleanest diesel engine Kia says it has ever made.

The new 1.6-litre diesel engine produces 115 or 136ps, with higher-powered models available with all-wheel drive and seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

On the outside, there are new front and rear bumpers, as well as redesigned front and rear lamps and new 16-, 17- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs.

‘GT-Line’ models are equipped with a gloss black hot-stamped radiator grille, a gloss black and silver skid plate, and dark chrome inserts on the side sills and rear tailgate.

The GT-Line’s unique 19-inch alloy wheels have been redesigned, and all models are fitted with a dual exhaust rear valance and revised ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamp designs.

The revamped cabin features a new steering wheel and revised instrument cluster, as well as new black-and-grey two-tone upholstery.

‘GT-Line’ models are available with new black-and-grey two-tone leather seats, or optional black leather with red accents.

Kia’s latest advanced driving assistance systems have been installed, including Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go, an Around View Monitor for easier parking manoeuvres, and Driver Attention Warning, to combat fatigue and inattentiveness at the wheel.

There are also new infotainment systems: a 7.0-inch touchscreen, or a new ‘frameless’ 8.0-inch infotainment system.

UK price, spec and sale date will be announced later.

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