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Look out Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Kia Sportage hybrid could be coming in the first half of 2023!

The current-gen Sportage is only available in petrol and diesel guise in Australia. That may change in 2023.

The Kia Sportage range is expected to expand to include a petrol-electric hybrid model by the middle of next year.

The all-new 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid - if confirmed by the brand - will give it an important competitor to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, not to mention rivals like the Haval H6 Hybrid, Subaru Forester Hybrid, MG HS Plus EV (plug-in hybrid), and soon-to-launch Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV).

It could also beat the related Hyundai Tucson to the market with a hybrid powertrain, while the next-gen Honda CR-V is set to launch with hybrid tech in 2023.

CarsGuide understands the brand is waiting on a green light for right-hand-drive production, with the Korean factory currently prioritising left-hand-drive manufacturing for the local market.

Kia Australia media and corporate communications manager, Alyson McDonald, was optimistic when asked about the potential for the model to arrive in less than 12 months time.

“We are very keen and if signed off, we believe it will be a popular addition to the Sportage range,” she said.

The Sportage Hybrid model will run a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and 44.2kW electric motor, with combined power outputs of 132kW and 265Nm. 

Based on the brochure CarsGuide collected at the recent Busan motor show in Korea, the Sportage HEV (as it’s known in that market) should return about 5.9 litres per 100 kilometres for its official combined fuel consumption. That’s a fair bit thirstier than the claimed 4.7L/100km for the RAV4 hybrid models.

The Sportage Hybrid in Korea is available with a choice of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, both design for better aero efficiency, and if you were eager to wager on the choice we’d get in Australia, it’d be the 18s you should be going for.

That’s because, if Kia’s existing strategy with hybrid models in its SUV range is anything to go by, the Sportage is likely to be offered as a hybrid here in high-spec GT-Line guise only. The brand has GT-Line versions of the Sorento as a PHEV and series hybrid, and that grade is also available in petrol and diesel.

It is highly improbable that Kia will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Sportage, given it has shied away from that tech with the new tech-focused smaller SUV, Niro, which is now sold only as a hybrid or full EV.

As for the pricing, expect the Sportage Hybrid to sit atop Kia's mid-size SUV family, and for reference the current line-up starts at $32,445 before on-road costs, and extends to $52,370 for the GT-Line with a diesel.