Driving report: Kia Sportage as a plug-in hybrid

Kia is expanding its recently released Sportage SUV series for the first time with a plug-in hybrid model. Anyone who wants the appropriate funding will have to make a decision quickly.

After the conventional variants of the now fifth Sportage-Generation at its first appearance at the beginning of the year when petrol and diesel engines were already receiving a lot of praise Kia now the new top model at prices from 44.390 euros. For the first time, it offers a plug-in hybrid drive whose battery can be recharged externally at a socket or wall box. Thanks to the fairly powerful battery, the Sportage has a purely electric range of 78 kilometers and thus qualifies for the innovation bonus. At least until the end of this year. Then the traffic light government wants to stop the windfall from tax money.

Grilles these days are black and big

This also ends the fierce discussions about the sense of promoting Doppelherz cars, which have a more or less powerful electric motor on board in addition to a classic petrol engine. In this respect, the new Sportage with a 1,6 liter petrol engine plus an electric motor, which together produce 195 kW/265 hp, is facing an uncertain future. 

Driving report: Kia Sportage as a plug-in hybrid
The system output is 195 kW/265 hp

The front section is dominated by the black, wide radiator grille. The LED daytime running lights come in the form of an eye-catching boomerang. A play of lights at the rear, too, where the finely drawn taillights cut through the middle of the steep tailgate.

Purely electric at the push of a button

Inside, a slightly curved double display runs from the left edge to the center of the dashboard. In the center console, a large rotary wheel replaces the usual automatic selector lever, while a smaller one prepares the Sportage for excursions into rougher terrain and optimizes the grip of the all-wheel drive. A push button forces the electronics to shut down the petrol engine and only move the SUV electrically. Helpful in residential areas that may soon have zero-emission zones.

If the hybrid mode is active, the on-board computer takes over the command, regulating the interaction of the two hearts depending on the vehemence of the sole of the right foot. The gallop is impressive when old and new energy come together. The 195 kW/265 hp provide reassuring pulling power, for example when overtaking on country roads. All of this naturally drains the battery faster than actually desired. The display of the remaining electric range becomes a countdown. This is especially true when the speedometer needle approaches the 200 mark on the freeway. Even sophisticated technology cannot take physics by surprise, because speed costs electricity. The environmental car becomes a classic old-school combustion engine.

The electric motor is enough for work

Conversely, the Sportage feels most comfortable in city traffic and the streets around the cities. Apart from short acceleration phases, it is really possible to drive "cleanly" here. On the daily trip to the office or to the workbench, the range of 70 kilometers is often sufficient for several days. And when you recharge at home overnight, the plug-in hybrid system has served its purpose. At least two of you have an e-car, but you don’t have to worry about ranges.

Engineering work that has its price. A lot of standard equipment is included in the rather high basic price of 44.390 euros. These include distance radar, traffic sign recognition. The system keeps an eye on pedestrians and cyclists, warns of dangerous encounters and brakes automatically if the driver does not react. The same applies to cross traffic and when turning. In traffic jams, the technology helps to automatically follow the vehicle in front, stays in lane and takes the fright out of the blind spot in the rear-view mirror. For just under 1.400 euros more, there are further subtleties hidden in a package, such as the remote control, with which the driver who has got out can maneuver the Sportage into a gap or out of the narrow garage.

Still available this year

The question remains whether those interested in a Sportage are willing to spend significantly more money for a technically sophisticated and well-equipped car in the trendy SUV look than for the petrol or diesel variants. As long as the subsidy is still flowing, the part-time electric car is even cheaper than the all-wheel drive with 132 kW/180 hp. Kia speaks of sufficient stocks to be able to supply new customers this year. Because the funding is only paid out upon approval. If this ceases to be the case from 2023, the Sportage with a plug will be 6.400 euros more expensive overnight than the 180 hp combustion engine. A wave of inflation, which also affects its rivals, including the VW Tiguan, which has been chosen as an opponent.

Technical data

Five-door, five-seat compact SUV; Length: 4,51 meters, width: 1,87 meters (without exterior mirrors), height: 1,65 meters, wheelbase: 2,68 meters, trunk volume: 540-1.715 liters
1,6 liter four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, 132 kW/180 hp at 5.5 00 rpm, combined with a 1 kW/70 hp electric motor. System output: 91 kW/195 hp, system torque: 265 Nm at 350-1.500 rpm, battery with 2.500 kWh. Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive, 13,8-0 km/h: 100 s. Vmax: 8,2 km/h. Standard consumption (WLTP) 191 liters/1,1 kilometers, power consumption 100 kWh/16,9 km. CO100 emissions: 2 g/km, electric range: 26 km or 70 km (city); Emissions standard Euro 78d, efficiency class A+++. Price: from 44.390 euros

Driving report: Kia Sportage as a plug-in hybrid
The Kia Sportage is 4,51 meters long

In brief

Why: Because it offers a reasonable electric range if it is recharged diligently
Why not: Because the Doppelherz system will soon no longer be able to count on government money for good reason  
What else: VW Tiguan Plug-in Hybrid, Citroen C5 Aircross 225e, Cupra Formentor VZ 1.4 e-Hybrid and many others
When does he come: Already available to order

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