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Frankfurt show: Kia Sportage fronts up

Teutonic: Kia’s fourth-generation Sportage was designed at the Korean’s company’s Frankfurt design centre.

New look for Kia Sportage sets the compact Korean apart from the SUV pack

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Kia logo27 Aug 2015

HERE’S the vehicle that will cap an upcoming three-car new-model blitz for Kia, while potentially delivering real traction for the South Korean marque in the hot-selling compact-SUV market in Australia.

To be revealed in the flesh at next month’s Frankfurt motor show, the fourth-generation Sportage is tipped to land in Australian showrooms about March or April – just weeks after the arrival of the new entry level Kia Picanto hatchback and new-generation Optima mid-sized sedan.

The all-new Sportage has been re-engineered and re-shaped to take on medium SUV market leaders such as the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4, not to mention sister company Hyundai’s just-released Tucson.

The current Sportage sits a lowly seventh in the sales rankings of the medium-SUV class, despite a healthy 18.8 per cent sales gain this year.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) is quietly confident the new breed has what it needs to take the next step in what is regarded as a key segment in this market.

Few details about the Sportage have been revealed to date, but as the pictures here show, Kia has not been afraid to push the envelope on the exterior design that was penned at Hyundai’s European design centre in Frankfurt.

The narrow, high-mounted headlights and pronounced “tiger nose” grille might not be the everyone’s taste, but at least the design team – under the guidance of Kia president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer – has succeeded in setting the Sportage apart from the SUV pack.

A low bonnet between the raised headlight pods has a Porsche feel to it, while the cluster of four LED driving lights on each side of the fascia is one of Kia’ s design signatures, having been incorporated on models such as the Optima.

Kia says that it has tried to create a sense of power and agility from every angle.

“Echoing the contrast of smooth and sharp shapes found on some of the most iconic modern fighter jets, the Sportage creates visual harmony out of the tension between sharp, defined feature lines and smooth surfacing,” the media release says.

It claims the bigger grille “adds more volume to the lower half of the Sportage’ s face, resulting in a more imposing appearance and more stable-looking stance”.

At the back, the designers drew inspiration for the brake lights from the Kia Provo concept car shown at the 2013 Geneva motor show.

Interestingly, the turn indicator and reversing lights are mounted separately, lower down in the bumper.

The front overhang is said to be longer than before, while the butt has been trimmed. The wheel arches bulge more than the previous model, giving a more muscular look.

Under the skin, the Sportage is said to share the same platform as the recently released Hyundai Tucson.

As GoAuto has reported, the Sportage is likely to get a new selection of powertrains, perhaps including a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine borrowed from the Pro_cee’d GT and Cerato Koup.

The arrival of the new Sportage will cap a big year or so that started with the arrival of the top-selling Kia Carnival people-mover in February this year.

The large Sorrento SUV came next in June, while the replacement for the current-gen Optima is next cab off the rank in November.

KMAu will use Kia’s sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament to launch its new Picanto mini car in January, before the Sportage hits showrooms around the end of the first quarter.

An all-new Rio light hatchback could be next on the radar for Kia, perhaps towards the end of next year.

So far this year, Kia sales are up 9.4 per cent in an overall market up 3.2 per cent. The company appears to be on track to give 30,000 units a nudge this year, three years since it last performed the feat.

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