An all-new Kia Sportage has arrived in Australia, the fourth generation of the midsize SUV that has been a sales success here since launched 20 years ago.

It comes as no surprise that the latest Sportage features a bold new style, something we have come to expect from the two big Korean car makers. However, it was penned in Kia's European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, not in South Korea, though there was also input from the company's Korean and Californian design studios.

Sportage has Kia's hallmark ‘tiger-nose' grille gives it a bold look that works beautifully with the tall bonnet. The roof slopes neatly towards the rear, but not to the extent of spoiling rear headroom. The headlamps sweep well back along the outer edges of the bonnet. ‘Ice-cube' LED foglights are becoming an interesting feature of Kia models, and are a feature of the topline sportage.

Sportage is sold in three trim levels: Si, SLi and Platinum GT-Line, and with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. Prices starts at a pretty reasonable $28,990 for the 2.0-litre petrol Sportage Si and tops out at $45,990 for the Platinum turbo-diesel.

In a sign of the future in cars, the Sportage Platinum has a wireless charger for mobile devices

New Sportage has a longer wheelbase and is 40 mm longer overall (at 4480 mm), but retains the same height. Longer front overhangs and shorter rear overhangs are there to help produce a more raked profile.

Passenger room is increased, with headroom and legroom both improved. In the rear, the floor is 40 mm lower (without any loss of ground clearance). Combining that with a higher rear seat hip-point mean there's significantly better comfort. As a six-footer I can sit ‘behind' myself with room to move. I also appreciated the good under-thigh support back there.

Cargo space is virtually the same, being up by just a single litre, to 466 litres, but the lowering of the boot lip makes it easier to load. The Sportage's reclining rear seats have seven steps to let you juggle with passenger comfort and luggage space.

Sportage Si has a 3.5-inch mono display in the centre of the dashboard. The SLi and Platinum have a 4.2-inch colour TFT supervision cluster. All models get a 7-inch touchscreen multimedia screen featuring reversing camera display with dynamic parking lines, while satellite navigation is standard for SLi and Platinum. All multimedia systems feature Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and aux-in and USB ports for smartphones and MP3 music players.

In a sign of the future in cars, the Sportage Platinum has a wireless charger for mobile devices. Located at the base of the central instrument stack, the 5-Watt charging system activates when a compatible device is placed on the pad. It even reminds you that a phone has been left on the charger if you leave the vehicle.

A 2.0-litre petrol with 114kW of power and 192Nm of torque is offered only in the Sportage Si and SLi. A 2.4-litre petrol (135kW/237Nm) is used only in the Platinum. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (136kW and 400Nm) is available in all grades.

All models have a six-speed automatic transmission. This drives the front wheels in the 2.0-litre petrol Si and SLi models, and all four wheels in Kia's on-demand AWD system in all diesel models and the Platinum 2.4-litre petrol.

Such is the importance of the midsize SUV market in Australia that the first Kia to receive the Smart Parking Assist System, only in the Platinum at this stage. This works in parallel and 90-degree parking spaces.

Sportage scored a five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP tests. Six airbags are standard - driver and front passenger, first row side airbags, and first and second row curtain airbags. Two ISOFIX child-seat tethers and three anchor points are fitted to the second row of seats.

On the road, we found forward visibility from the new Sportage has been significantly improved by the use of thinner A-pillars than in the superseded model. The outside mirrors sit slightly lower on the door for the same reason, we found this didn't impair our side-rear view.

Kia has long realised the importance of suspension tuning to suit Australian drivers' needs and desires. This continues with the Sportage. The standard suspension provides a comfortable ride and absorbs bumps well, even on corrugated dirt. Yet the SUV has decent if unexciting handling.

Reduction of noise, vibration and harshness levels were a major part of the engineering work and it's pleasingly refined to travel in.

Sportage Platinum GT-Line is tuned to give it sharper handling and a slightly firmer ride. We really enjoyed a couple of hundred kilometres behind the wheel of one, finding it to have a precise feel and response. Comfort, though not quite as good as in the standard suspension, was still acceptable. As always, try for yourself during your private test drive.

However we felt that the 2.4-litre petrol engine in our test car needed more grunt, with the automatic transmission having to be shifted down a couple of ratios on steep hills to get the engine into the right rev range.