Kia this week revealed its 2016 Sportage at the Frankfurt auto show, capping off a month of teaser sketches, spy photos, and leaked official photos of the Korean brand’s redesigned compact crossover.
As we already know what the new design looks like, we’ll dive right into the newly-released details about what’s under that refreshed skin.
Power comes from a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder shared with other Kia models, not to mention the redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson that recently went on sale. Kia’s version makes the same 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, and will likely come here bolted to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as the only transmission. (And yes, of course every engine in the European line with be available with a manual transmission, dammit.)
Kia makes no mention of the 2.0L non-turbo offered by Hyundai, nor is there any reference to a high-performance powertrain like the outgoing car’s available turbo 2.0L. European buyers will get a choice of three(!) turbodiesels, including a 1.7L, and a 2.0L offered in two states of tune. A 1.6L non-turbo making about 132 hp and 119 lb-ft is also on the books for Europe, but we can’t imagine it’ll make the trip to our shores. We do expect to get the same choice of front- and all-wheel drive, however.
We’re curious to see if the GT Line trim mentioned in Kia’s press release makes it to North America. Kia says this model will come with cosmetic upgrades (inside and out) not shared with other trims, but more important to us are GT Line-specific (read: firmer) suspension tuning, and an electric power steering system that will be optional on other Euro-market Sportage trims.
Newly available tech includes wireless phone charging, and a navigation system that can alert the driver to speed camera locations (Kia admits this function isn’t legal everywhere); safety kit offered in Europe will include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, speed limit information system (it uses cameras to find road signs and display speed and highway overtaking restrictions in the instrument cluster), blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.
Kia’s European COO, Michael Cole, confirmed the Sportage’s importance to the brand, “particularly as more customers are turning to SUVs and competition in the rapidly-growing compact segment is now fiercer than ever.” It sounds to us like he’s talking about the European market, where crossover have been slower to gain traction against the hatchbacks and station wagons that have traditionally been favoured by families and other drivers looking for a spacious car in a compact footprint. And he’s clearly talking Euro-land when he calls the Sportage the brand’s “flagship car, clearly demonstrating our brand values best, and consistently accounting for more than a quarter of our European sales”
The decision to reveal the Sportage here was probably an easy one, as its Frankfurt design studio too the lead on this one, with Kia’s Korean and California designers chipping in. Though it looks wider than the outgoing car, Kia says this Sportage retains its 1,855 width, as well as a 1,635-mm overall height. The body is 40 mm longer, however, and the wheelbase stretched by 30 mm, to 2,670, translating into the expected increases in legroom for front and rear passengers. Kia points out a 20 mm longer front overhang and a rear clipped by 10 mm contribute to a more rakish profile.
Kia says the new Sportage goes on sale in Europe in early 2016, and we expect it will arrive in North American showrooms around the same time, with pricing to be announced closer to then.