25 Years of the Kia Sportage
Yes, that's right, the Kia Sportage has been on our roads now for a whopping 25 years! With more than 5 million Sportage's sold around the world and almost a quarter of a million sold in the UK, the increasingly popular SUV now tenth place in the charts, is becoming a solid favourite on our British roads.
As the UK's number one seller for the past six years, the multi-award-winning Kia Sportage celebrates its 25th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, a special 'Edition 25' grade is now available for purchase with an exclusive variant including 130bhp 1.6-litre GDI engine with 6-speed transmission.
As well as a brand-new model issued by Kia, we join the South-Korean brand in celebration by taking a look at some key moments in the Sportage's 25-year history, appreciating its evolving design right up to the eminent modern-day version.
First Generation 1993-2005The first ever Kia Sportage was launched in Asia in July 1993 and two years later in Europe. The affordable, family friendly Sportage was originally sold as a five-door crossover or a three-door soft-top convertible, evolving with an extended length in around 1996. The 20th century saw a combination of petrol and diesel 2.0 engines on the Sportage, producing up to 128 bhp. A surge in luggage capacity saw an increase from 1,570 to 2,220 litres too, marking the beginning of the standard large, practical SUV we all know and love. Around the same time, the first-generation Kia Sportage lost its visible spare wheel on the tailgate, which was relocated underneath the floor.
By 2003, the first-generation Kia Sportage model was discontinued and made way for the second-generation Sportage two years later.
Second Generation 2005-2010Following the two-year break, the Sportage was relaunched in 2005, sharing elements with their competitive brand's SUV model - the Hyundai Tucson. The overall finish and quality were definitely improved on this model, as well as now being compliant with a 2.0-litre diesel engine providing 173 bhp.
The Sportage underwent a facelift in 2007 with a second facelift issued just months after and earned a top rating of five stars in crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Forthcoming this, the second-generation Kia Sportage model was named one of the most reliable vehicles on the roads and consumer interest rocketed.
Third Generation 2010-2015The third-generation Sportage, also known as the SL series Kia Sportage was released in 2010. This time the Kia Sportage was looking sharper and more modernised, with petrol and diesel engines producing up to an impressive 184 bhp.
The third-generation Sportage was stacking up awards all over the world, winning 'Car of the Year' in Slovakia and a 'Truck of the Year' nomination for International Car of the Year in 2011. The third-generation Sportage also attained a great reputation for its safety, receiving a 'Top Safety Pick' from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the USA. South Africa rated the Sportage too, awarding it with the "SUVs and Crossovers - City & Suburban" at the Standard Bank People's Wheels Awards in 2013.
Fourth Generation 2015 - present2015 saw the launch of our current and fourth-generation Kia Sportage. More advanced than ever before, the new model Sportage boasts state-of-the-art driver assistance and safety technology, including an 8" touchscreen satellite navigation with European mapping and even comes equipped with a wireless mobile phone charger.
Accounting for around 40% of Kia sales across the UK, it's no surprise that the South-Korean brand is keen to keep their version of the Sportage as up to date as possible. As a result, the very latest fourth-generation Sportage endured a subtle facelift this year (2018), including a new front bumper and a reviewed rear end with a full-width light bar.
Though, the most significant updates were within the engine itself. As the demand for electric vehicles grow significantly each year, more manufacturers are producing more Hybrid and Electric cars - including Kia. Now featuring a 48-volt electrical system with a 0.44 kWh lithium-ion battery seated beneath the boot floor, offering a mild-hybrid assistance, the contemporary Kia Sportage is fully compliant with an electric vehicle future.
The fourth-generation Sportage has evolved from a cheap and cheerful family crossover, to a forward-thinking, stylish SUV, and a solid contender against reputable rivals such as the popular Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Hyundai Tucson.
The electric vehicle market is souring, meaning one indefinite thing for the Kia Sportage's future. The most recent 2018 design saw the Kia Sportage with an advanced mild-hybrid assistance engine variant - Will we be seeing a fully electric Sportage in 2019?