Kia Sportage PHEV first drive

The latest generation Sportage from Kia is the first to get the plug-in hybrid treatment from a company that has extensively electrified its line-up. We drive the Kia Sportage PHEV on its UK launch for an early impression.

Review by Chris Lilly

KIA SPORTAGE PHEV: PERFORMANCE

The Kia Sportage PHEV is powered by a 1.6 litre petrol engine and 66.9 kW electric motor, capable of propelling it from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. It puts the power through all four wheels, producing a combined 261bhp and 350Nm of torque.

On the road, the Sportage PHEV feels quicker that the acceleration time suggests. It has instant response from the electric motor, and picks up eagerly, feeling more EV than PHEV at low speeds. It’s clearly a plug-in hybrid with greater focus on the electric elements, and it works, making the Kia a better driving prospect in built up areas and at slow speeds. At higher speeds, the automatic gearbox means the petrol engine proves refined enough at motorway speeds.

HANDLING

The Sportage is a fine handling car, especially considering it’s a family-focused SUV. The suspension is stiff to help body control, but it’s not uncomfortable, and it soaks up lumps and bumps nicely. It’s a very well balanced set-up, and extremely impressive, feeling both more fun and more refined than many rival efforts.

Matching the powertrain’s strengths, the Sportage PHEV proves well suited to town driving, and pretty nimble considering its overall size. The square stance helps with this, and the steering is well weighted; light-ish, but not overly so, and with a good level of feedback coming through the wheel.

BODY STYLE

The new Sportage is a striking car, and one that I think looks good overall. The front-end is certainly more noticeable than stylish, but everything else looks nicely styled - particularly the rear. Having followed one for a number of miles, it’s safe to say the Sportage is handsome car from behind.

Inside, the Kia is as you would expect from its popular family workhorse. With a good boot space on offer, plus decent levels of occupant space for four adults, it ticks all the boxes for those looking at a practical family car. Head and shoulder space are good, as is leg room, though the floor is a little high because of the battery fitted beneath it.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

“Kia

The interior is a real point of strength for the Kia, with a high-quality cabin that easily competes with the semi-premium rivals such as VW and Mazda. All key touch-points use well thought through materials, such as the steering wheel and switchgear. There are a few harder plastics lower down the cabin, but it can also be argued that these will soak up some rough treatment easily.

There’s a somewhat fiddly touch-bar to control most of the air-conditioning and media functions, with dials performing dual functions depending on the setting. This could easily be something that becomes second nature, remembering to switch to the system required, but we’re yet to spend long enough with it. It looks good, and works well when you do remember however. Large dual screens on a curving panel look good and work nicely, though it can be a reach to get to the navigation control such is the size of the screen. All in all however, it’s a very good cabin.

KIA SPORTAGE PHEV: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS

One of the Sportage PHEV’s main selling points is the size of its electric-only range, which is rated officially at 43 miles on the official WLTP Combined cycle. This helps with other ratings of 25 g/km CO2 and 256.8 MPG, the former crucial in putting the Sportage PHEV in the 8% BIK band for FY 22/23, rather than most rivals’ 12%.

On the launch, there wasn’t time to really stretch the car’s fuel economy, but on a mixed route of more than 50 miles, the car was returning 65.8 MPG when sitting in Automatic mode, and used just over a quarter charge. A different car was displaying more than 250 MPG having used half a charge, so it’s easy to see significant fuel economy scores. Plus, that electric range seems to hold up fairly well, returning between 35 and 38 miles on a charge by my reckoning, depending on use.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The Kia’s 13.8 kWh battery is the most significant contributor to the Sportage PHEV’s green credentials, allowing for a significant electric range for most drivers. It’s large enough to comfortably most daily driving needs without the petrol engine kicking in at all. Plus, Kia has put in a 7.2 kW AC Type 2 on-board charger, meaning a full charge will take around 2 hours on most public and home points.

Navigation-based cruise control and an Eco driving mode help with maximising efficiency further, and the hybrid system will maintain electric drive longer than in other PHEVs from Kia, helping both the driving experience and the fuel economy. There’s also the Kia Connect app to control connected car systems.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

There are four trim grades available for the Sportage PHEV - GT-Line, 3, 4, and GT-Line S - with the latter two were available to try at the launch event. Fitted as standard are 19-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, automatic wipers and lights, three-zone climate control, smart cruise control with stop and go functionality, paddle shifters, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, USB-C charging ports, and 12.3-inch infotainment system with navigation, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, and seven year subscription to Kia Connect.

4 and GT-Line S trims tested add features such as Harman Kardon audio system, sporty styling details, 360-degree camera, improved driver assistance package, Terrain Mode select, twin 12.3-inch screens including driver’s instruments, electric front seats, heated seats all-round, powered tailgate, and LED headlights.

KIA SPORTAGE PHEV: MODEL SUMMARY

The Kia Sportage PHEV is pricy when compared to the rest of the range, but this is less of an issue for those leasing or for fleet drivers, where the low emissions and long driving range make for very low running costs. It’s a nice car to drive, looks good inside and out, and the electric powertrain performs extremely well. A brilliant all-round family car.

“Kia

Model tested: Kia Sportage PHEV GT-Line S
Body-style: Family SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.6 litre petrol engine & electric motor / 29 g/km
Trim grades: GT-Line, 3, 4, GT-Line S

On-road price: PHEV from £38,395
Warranty: Seven years/ 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th May 2022

Related reviews