The next-generation Kia Sportage SUV has been spotted testing in Europe for the first time, ahead of a likely unveiling in late 2021.
In its current form, the Sportage is Kia’s best-selling model in the UK, coming second to the smaller Niro this year only in September.
It’s available in four trim levels with a choice of three engines: naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of a 1.6-litre petrol and a newly introduced 1.6-litre mild-hybrid diesel.
It’s unclear at this early stage whether all three engine options will be carried over to the fifth-generation Sportage when it goes on sale in 2022, but diesel still plays an important role in Kia’s European line-up, so it’s likely to continue.
Any petrol options will likely be electrified, too, but there’s no word on whether the Sportage will follow the larger Sorento in gaining a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
This test mule has an electrified powertrain of some sort, as revealed by the legally mandated yellow sticker at the rear.
Earlier this year, Kia detailed its strategy to launch 11 new electric vehicles by the end of 2025, among which will be a new crossover with performance-inspired styling and a range of more than 310 miles. That’s unlikely to bear the Sportage badge, however, being geared more towards offering an engaging and premium driving experience.
Despite the camouflage, this prototype hints at a radical styling evolution for the Sportage, comparable with the dramatic difference between the second- and third-generation models.
A new design for the leading edge of the bonnet suggests heavy influence from the new Sorento, which wears the latest iteration of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille, while the headlights appear to sit lower and the front splitter to protrude further than before.
Revisions to the side and rear will be equally extensive, with a reshaped roofline curving down towards a completely new boot lid design, topped by a prominent spoiler.
Camouflage covers most of the rear-light design, so it’s unclear whether the Sportage will adopt the Telluride-inspired vertical design seen on the Sorento or retain its wraparound light bar.