If you want a diesel version of Kia's fourth generation Sportage Crossover model equipped with All-Wheel Drive, then you'll need the clever 2.0 CRDi 48V mild hybrid variant. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Kia's Sportage offers strong value in the family Crossover segment, especially in this 2.0 CRDi diesel 48V mild hybrid guise which only comes with AWD traction. Add in strong build quality, much improved road manners and enhanced levels of safety and media connectivity and there's plenty to like.
Kia's Sportage has always been an appealing mid-sized SUV, but it's never really had cutting-edge engine technology. But that changes right here with this top 2.0 CRDi 48V mild hybrid diesel variant. It only comes with top-spec trim and a relatively high price, but if you can stomach that, then the prospect of an AWD spacious Crossover with a green-minded electrified powerplant capable of nearly 50mpg on a regular basis and a CO2 output of not much more than 150g/km might well appeal.
Plus, like all the most recent improved fourth generation Sportage models, this one gets smarter looks and much improved media connectivity and camera-driven safety standards. If you're buying in the Qashqai segment on a premium budget, it's well worth a look.
Kia's first mild hybrid diesel powertrain is a system that supplements acceleration from this model's 2.0-litre CRDi powerplant with power from a compact 0.44 kWh 48-volt lithium-ion battery. While extending engine 'off time' with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG) unit. The MHSG is connected by belt to the engine's crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between 'motor' and 'generator' modes. In 'motor' mode the battery is discharged under acceleration, providing power assistance to the engine, to reduce engine load and emissions. Under deceleration - when braking, or coasting towards a junction or downhill - the MHSG switches to 'generator' mode, recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery on-the-go.
This 'EcoDynamics+' powertrain is paired with an all-wheel drive system, transmitting power via a newly-adopted eight-speed automatic transmission. The total output is quoted at 195bhp thanks to a 13bhp electrical boost from the mild hybrid set-up. Rest to 62mph takes 9.2s en route to 125mph. Otherwise, things are much the same as they would be in any other Sportage. It's not hugely rewarding to drive, but then few mainstream mid-sized SUVs are. But the grip's good, the steering's predictable and body roll is well controlled.
Design and Build
It's important to Kia that customers like the appearance of this MK4 model Sportage because looks were high on the list of reasons why customers bought previous generation versions. This current design doesn't perhaps quite have the elegance of that car but arguably, a bit more streetside presence has been introduced this time round, particularly at the front end, which seems to remind many of a junior league Porsche Cayenne.
Kia has lightly updated current Sportage model's styling. At the front, there's a redesigned front bumper with smarter fog lamp housings, plus an evolved version of the brand's 'tiger-nose' grille. Sleeker full-LED headlamps with four-point LED daytime running lights also feature. At the rear, the slim combination lamps feature a more distinctive C-shaped LED light signature. The reversing lamp is integrated into a restyled rear bumper with longer reflectors positioned below and is finished with a flash of chrome across its base. In profile, the upgraded model is available with more stylish alloy wheel designs, and there's a sill trim finished in chrome.
Inside, minor upgrades include a redesigned steering wheel, a revised driver instrument cluster and smarter ventilation controls. The infotainment systems in the Sportage have been upgraded and here include a new 'frameless' 8.0-inch system. The satellite navigation set-up includes Kia's Connected Services powered by TomTom, offering a wide range of driving-oriented information. The cabin is decently spacious, with plenty of headroom front and rear. At the back, the seats recline for greater long distance comfort. Out back, boot space, normally around 500-litres, is slightly compromised by the mild hybrid mechanicals.
Market and Model
Early adoption of new technology is seldom cheap - and it isn't here. The 2.0 CRDi 48V package comes only with top-spec trim levels: either '4'-spec, for around £32,500 or 'GT-Line S' trim for around £34,500. Still, console yourself that with a premium German mid-sized SUV rival, that kind of outlay would get you only a very conventional engine and relatively basic trim levels.
Both models get plenty of safety kit, including a Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) to alert a tired driver who may be about to stray into the path of a vehicle approaching from behind. Plus High Beam Assist (HBA) to switch between full and dipped beam automatically when there are other vehicles in their vicinity on unlit roads. And a Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF) within the instrument cluster. Plus there's Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and cruise control. Further safety devices include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) City including pedestrian detection, a 360-degree around view monitor, Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).
'GT-Line S' trim offers adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof, 10-way power adjustable driver and 8-way adjustable front passenger seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, an Electronic Parking Brake an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system and an 8-speaker JBL premium sound system with subwoofer, external amplifier and front centre speaker. Plus there's a Smart Power Tailgate and a wireless phone charger.
Cost of Ownership
If the word 'hybrid' here leads you to expect Prius or Plug-in-like returns, then you might be disappointed. This 2.0 CRDi 48V AWD Sportage model manages 48.7mpg on the combined cycle and 125g/km of CO2. These figures are aided by the way that when you lift off the throttle to coast, or use the brakes, the starter of the 'Ecodynamics+' system becomes a generator, recharging the battery with energy that you'd otherwise lose in the form of heat. To give you some stats perspective here, the conventional 1.6-litre CRDi diesel version of this car (which admittedly is only front-driven) manages 55.4mpg and 135g/km. Like the rest of the Kia range, the Sportage is sold with the excellent seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. It is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached.
As usual with a Kia, you can budget ahead with pre-paid servicing plans, courtesy of the brand's 'Care-3' package that offers a fixed price deal covering your first three garage visits, a package that can be extended to include five visits if you go for the upgraded 'Care-3 Plus' option. In addition, a customer can now purchase services up to and including the seventh one, so matching the full length of the warranty. Whatever plan you go for, you can also bundle an MoT test in with it and on that basis, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that virtually all maintenance costs will probably have been covered for the entire time that your name will be on the logbook.
Expectations were high for this improved fourth generation Sportage - and it satisfies many of them, especially in this 2.0 CRDi 48V mild hybrid guise. It's an advanced product with decent quality that's safe, well equipped, media-savvy and nice to drive. Plus, whatever you think of the looks, you have to admit that the car now has a more significant degree of streetside presence.
In short, what we have here might be exactly the sort of thing many tech-savvy Qashqai-class customers buying on a premium budget might be looking for. Yes, you could pay much more for a Crossover of this kind. But after trying this Sportage, you might well end up questioning the need to. Which says it all really.