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Kia Sportage 2019: what we know so far

One of Kia’s most successful models has just celebrated a birthday, but what’s up next for the sharp, stylish Sportage?

If you’re on the hunt for a new mid-sized SUV – and by the looks of the local market mix, who isn’t? – it’s odds-on that the Kia Sportage figures on your wish list somewhere.

Built from the bones of parent company Hyundai’s Tucson and, the five-seat, four-door Sportage has successfully managed to plot its own course. Its sharper, more refreshing design, along with a different approach to spec levels and pricing, means that the Sportage isn’t just a me-too proposition.

For 2018, the Sportage received a host of updates as part of what the car industry calls a mid-life refresh, including better multimedia systems, more driver aid safety inclusions like AEB, lane-keep assist and forward collision warning, as well as small tweaks to the way it looks, rides and handles.

But what of the 2019 Kia Sportage? What’s coming down the pipe for one of Australia’s most popular SUVs? Well, we can tell you that we’re unlikely to see a hybrid version of the 2019 Sportage, despite the company announcing the arrival of a 48-volt hybrid power pack to complement the Sportage’s diesel engine package in Europe.

For 2018, the Sportage received a host of updates as part of what the car industry calls a mid-life refresh. For 2018, the Sportage received a host of updates as part of what the car industry calls a mid-life refresh.

The compact system consists of a small electric motor that can provide up to 10kW of additional power to the combustion engine, as well as charging a small 0.46kWh battery array that lies under the floor. 

This can power small ancillaries to take load off the engine (making it more fuel-efficient), and it can also be used to increase the length of time that the diesel engine can be powered down; for example, coasting to a stop at a traffic light.

However, Kia Australia is more keen on cars like the Sportage-based Niro electric vehicle, preferring to sidestep the notion of hybrid-powered Kias altogether.

The electric Niro – which is smaller than the Sportage – is based on the same underpinnings as Hyundai’s Ioniq EV, and can travel a claimed 380km on one charge, thanks to an 88kW/295Nm electric motor that’s backed by a big 64kWh battery.

However, Kia Australia – despite its professed love of all things electric – will only say that the Niro is “under consideration.” Given that the Ioniq is sold locally, we reckon the Niro could land in Australia in either 2020 or 2021. But will it be called Niro? Could it be called a Sportage EV? Unlikely… 

The Niro may, however, maybe provide clues as to the underpinnings of the next generation Sportage – which isn’t expected until after 2020. The platform of the current Sportage is designed to use a combustion engine-based powertrain, while the Niro EV has been designed from the outset to accommodate electric components like batteries, invertors and smaller motors.

The Niro may, provide clues as to the underpinnings of the next generation Sportage. The Niro may, provide clues as to the underpinnings of the next generation Sportage.

The next generation Sportage will need to be ready for electrification, and so may be built on the back of an enlarged version of the Niro’s platform.

Currently, the Sportage offers a 2.4-litre petrol, a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel in its line-up, and for the 2019 Sportage, we’d expect to see no changes forthcoming in the line-up. However, the 2.4-litre engine is the best part of a decade old, and with increasingly tight emissions targets, it may not make an appearance in the fifth-generation Sportage.

And while the diesel engine is a popular choice and a strong performer, increased pressure by regulatory bodies worldwide around diesel-powered cars would be causing Kia’s product planners to have a long, hard look at the future of the oil-burning passenger vehicle.

So it’ll be ‘steady as she goes, Skipper’ for the 2019 Kia Sportage, thanks to the recent improvements wrought during its 2018 facelift. 

What would you like to see added to the 2019 Kia Sportage? Let us know in the comment section below.

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