With the Tiguan, VW is the benchmark in the compact SUV class. But the new Kia Sportage not only looks more modern, it also has other qualities. FOCUS online tests the Koreans.

Kia’s variety of models is impressive when it comes to alternative drives. Pure electric cars such as the E-Soul, EV6 or Niro, plug-in hybrids such as the Ceed Sportwagon, XCeed, Sorento, Niro or the Sportage as a plug-in hybrid adorn the range, and there are also hybrids. German manufacturers cannot keep up in terms of variety.

And when it comes to quality, Kia does not have to hide behind premium suppliers. The test version “GT-line” includes, among other things, electrically adjustable leather seats with lumbar support and ventilation. Feels like leather, according to Kia it is imitation leather, only the side panels are made of suede. Add to that amenities like 19-inch wheels, six-speed automatic transmission, electronically adjustable suspension, LED headlights, and all-wheel drive, to name a few.

This top equipment is expensive. The Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI PHEV AWD AT test car has a base price of just over 50,000 euros. Together with the two-tone paintwork and special equipment, the price adds up to 53,190 euros. To save our honour, it should be said that the basic price of the new Sportage starts at 28,950 euros (Edition 7, manual transmission with 150 hp).

A hybrid is at work in the test car, and not a self-loading hybrid without a plug (the Sportage also has one), but a plug-in that will still be able to enjoy an environmental bonus at least in 2022. As a reminder: plug-in hybrids up to 40,000 euros receive 6750 euros (4500 euros federal and 2250 euros manufacturer share), plug-ins between 40,000 and 65,000 euros still 5,625 euros (3750 plus 1875 euros). With a net list price of around 42,000 euros, this SUV gets a bonus of 5,625 euros. From 2023 there will no longer be any subsidies for hybrids. Interested buyers must therefore hurry.

The Kia can be moved in two ways. Purely electric, as long as the 13.8 kWh battery plays along, or directly as a hybrid/electric – then the battery will of course last longer. Purely electric is over after about 60 km. The charging time at the wall box in the editorial office was given as three hours, which is quite long. Kia specifies the consumption values ​​as 4.8/6.1/5.6 liters (urban, extra-urban, combined). This is realistic with electric support, purely as a petrol engine there is more of an 8 in front of the decimal point. That gets a bit annoying on the motorway, because with a tank volume of 42 liters you have to fill up after around 400 km if you don’t want to be dependent on the last drop.

The Sportage is not a sprinter, but an SUV of the good-natured variety. The automatic responds spontaneously and accelerates the car to 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds. The propulsion of the 4.515 meter long, 1.865 wide and 1.645 meter high SUV ends at 193 km/h.

Subjectively, you feel comfortable in the car – with one restriction. Depending on how you as the driver hold the steering wheel, it can be uncomfortable. If you have your left arm on the steering wheel according to the regulations, you won’t have any problems. But if you use the recess in the door to park your arm there, you will get pressure points, because this armrest is not continuous. Alternatively, the tester’s elbow is too pointed.

Soft surfaces in the interior, one of the hallmarks of Kia. It feels very comfortable, very valuable. The infotainment consists of two 31.2 cm screens (corresponds to 12.3 inches each). On the left is a digital instrument cluster, on the right it resembles a tablet (competitors do the same). Below you can find the control bar, which is versatile. At the push of a button, it is used either for navigation or radio or for heating and air conditioning. If you are dealing with it for the first time, you have to get used to it. The decisive advantage: the number of setting options is not overwhelming at first glance. The license plate recognition, which correctly recognized the signs, is also worth mentioning.

A compact SUV is usually designed for four people, as is the case here. For three adults in the back seat, it gets a bit cramped, especially on longer journeys.

There is little to complain about, the Kia is consistent, but not cheap. But there are good reasons why the brand is on the rise. Controversial views arise more for reasons of taste. Example: the color. Within two minutes, two younger girls gave feedback “is she ugly” and “super cool”. I find the color very successful, but would tend to refrain from a fashion color in a car. I don’t know if the green will still be there in ten years. In any case, the optics are such that two tradesmen got out at a rest area and circled the car with interest. And it certainly wasn’t because of the color.

However, the chances of success are questionable if there is no longer any financial extra income from the state for plug-ins. Then the trend should probably go in the direction of mild hybrids (which Kia also offers for the Sportage) or in the direction of pure electric cars (not yet available for the Sportage). Therefore, this engine variant could be phased out unless the cities come up with the idea of ​​setting up environmental zones in which only electric cars are allowed to drive. Then the plug-in would still be there, but not a mild hybrid.

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