The current generation Kia Sportage has been with us for a couple of years now – just enough to time to prompt the Korean manufacturer to give it a midlife facelift.
Without someone from Kia pointing out the exterior changes you might struggle to spot them, but alongside an older model the gentle tweaking becomes more apparent.
It amounts to the usual gentle reshaping of the tiger-nose grille, new light clusters front and rear, a choice of different materials insert panels and a reshaped front bumper. There are also five new colours and new wheel designs in everything from 16 to 19 inches. In isolation, the older model still looks good, but the tweaks do sharpen the looks slightly.
Kia Sportage Ecodynamics+ GT-Line S
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel, with 48V motor/generator
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Interior changes are even more subtle. The touchscreen has been tweaked, with a â€œframelessâ€ eight-inch version on top models. Apart from that, a new steering wheel and revisions to the ventilation controls and instrument cluster are as much of a change as the designers felt necessary. Itâ€™s a shame they didnâ€™t do more as the centre console looks cluttered with buttons. A bit of â€˜rationalisationâ€™ wouldnâ€™t have gone amiss.
Still, the interior remains spacious and comfortable all-round and, there are no quibbles to be had with the quality.
The biggest change to the Sportage is the addition of a 48V mild hybrid to the drivetrain options.
The EcoDynamics+ is a very mild hybrid in that the electric motor is there to supplement the 2.0-litre diesel engine rather than power the car itself.
The point of the system, which integrates a 0.44kWh battery and hybrid starter generator into the driveline, is to improve the efficiency of the diesel by taking some of the strain off the internal combustion engine.
Under acceleration, the motor provides added oomph to aid acceleration, meaning the diesel doesnâ€™t have to work as hard. Under braking the motor becomes a generator and recoups energy. If thereâ€™s enough charge in the battery the engine will turn off during deceleration and braking, cutting back in when the throttle is pressed. Itâ€™s a smooth setup and you donâ€™t really notice its intervention.
The diesel engine itself is equally smooth, matching rivals for refinement, and it pulls well thanks to its 182bhp and 295lb/ft of torque. Kia claims it will do 48.7mpg and emit 152g/km of CO2.
Away from the hybrid option, the Sportage also gets a new 1.6-litre diesel engine promising bettering economy and lower emissions than the old 1.7-litre unit and both petrol engines have had particulate filters added to reduce their emissions.
As ever, the Sportage is generously equipped but Kia has added more driver assistance tech to higher-spec models. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, an around view monitor and driver attention warning have been added to the suite of safety features.
The new tech is symbolic of the changes to the Sportage. Apart from the hybrid system the updates are subtle adjustments that keep the Sportage competing at the top of its class without revolutionising anything.