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The First-Ever European Kia Sportage Short-Wheelbase! How is it Different From the US Kia Sportage?

Kia Sportage is one of the best-selling SUVs in the world but nowhere in the world Sportage is more popular than in Europe. Therefore, Kia has seen fit to introduce the first-ever Europe-only Sportage.


Kia Sportage is one of the best-selling compact SUVs in the world. The current 4th generation model still managed to sell over 360,000 units in 2020, despite the pandemic, and has ranked as the 7th best-selling SUV model in the world. Also, since its introduction in 1998, Kia has managed to sell more than 5 million units of the small crossover around the world. And nowhere in the world Sportage is more popular than in the old world. The European sales have cumulatively accounted for 30% of the total sales. This figure far exceeds the US sales that account for 25%, which is the world’s 2nd biggest market for Sportage, and even bigger than the Chinese market that sells a slightly different version of Sportage than the rest of the world, with 17% of the worldwide sales.

The European sales have cumulatively accounted for 30% of the total sales. This figure far exceeds the US sales that account for 25%, which is the world’s 2nd biggest market for Sportage

This immense popularity of Sportage in the European market has prompted the creation of the Europe exclusive Sportage for the first time in its 18-years of history in the continent when the all-new 5th generation Sportage will be introduced in Europe this fall. Also known as Short-wheelbase Sportage, it’s analogous to the short-wheelbase version of the Tucson sibling, with a shorter wheelbase and length than the versions available in North America, Australia, and the domestic Korean market. However, what’s different and significant about the European Sportage is that the shorter Sportage actually features a different body design, unlike the Tucson counterpart, which is just a shortened version of the longer wheelbase model.

The SWB vs LWB Comparison

The part of the exterior design that exhibits the most difference is in the side profile. Unlike the long-wheelbase Sportage that has the stereotypical wagon shape, with the extra pane of glass between C and D pillars, the shorter Sportage has the clean and simple hatchback design without the additional glasses and D-pillars. The rear end also gets a different styling treatment, with the slimmer-profiled bumper that integrates a sportier diffuser. The rear spoiler is pronounced and purposeful, similar to that of the longer wheelbase, and hides a rear-wiper as well. The distinctive yet controversial front-end appears to be identical to the long-wheelbase model.

Overall, the design of the short-wheelbase model does exude that sportier European feel and should bode well with the discerning European tastes. Dimension-wise, the European Sportage’s length will be 4,485-mm, which is 175-mm shorter than the long-wheelbase model at 4,660-mm.

This would translate to the loss of only about 75-mm in the rear legroom with the shorter wheelbase, but where the difference takes a toll is in the cargo space, where the longer wheelbase model offers up to 2108 liters of space with the rear seats folded flat, compared to 1800-liters offered by the shorter version. With the rear seats up, the cargo volume measures 1097-liters for the longer Sportage versus only 620-liters for the shorter model. However, the all-new short-wheelbase Sportage actually offers 33-liters of more space than the outgoing model. Also, the longer model now offers more space than that of the physically larger Hyundai Santa Fe. These magical numbers are due to the Sportage’s new platform that’s shared with the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup truck, which required a wider and more space-efficient body to function as a proper truck.

As for the powerplant, the European range of the fifth-generation Sportage includes five electrified powertrain options, as well as one gasoline and one diesel. The base options are the gasoline 1.6-liter 4-cylinder Turbocharged engine with 147 hp or 110 kW, and the diesel 1.6-liter CRDi with 113-hp or 84 kW. Both engines are also offered with a mild-hybrid 48-volt technology, which includes the gasoline 1.6-liter in 147 hp or 110 kW, and 177 hp or 132 kW versions, and the diesel 1.6-liter engine with 134 hp or 100 kW. Mild hybrid petrol models are fitted with the 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission or iMT clutch-less manual as standard.

Also, for the first time ever, both versions of Sportage will be receiving the full hybrid models. And on top of that, there will be 2 different hybrid variants. First up is the traditional hybrid, which pairs a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four with a 44.2-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.49-kilowatt-hour battery for a total output of 227- hp or 169-kilowatts. The hybrid is expected to be 30% more fuel-efficient than the base gas engine, and it's estimated to have a range of over 500 miles.

The European Kia Sportage SWB

Then there's the plug-in-hybrid model, which uses the same 1.6-liter turbo engine but has a more powerful 66.9-kW electric motor and a larger 13.8-kWh battery pack to produce a total of 261-hp or 195-kW. It also comes standard with an all-wheel drive and uses the same six-speed auto as the regular hybrid. The plug-in hybrid models will have an electric range of around 28 miles and a 2-hour recharge time using a Level 2 charger. The fuel economy is expected to be around 70 mpg.

All-wheel drive is standard on both hybrids, and optional on the other powerplants, except for the base diesel model, which is only available as a front-wheel drive.

Interior design and tech offered should be identical in both models, including the segment busting 12.3-inch dual panoramic LCD display that couples as the driver’s information cluster and infotainment. Another highlight of the interior is the EV6 inspired design theme with the luxurious multi-colored leather appointments that seems more appropriate in vehicles costing thousands more.

Kia will confirm specs for the European Sportage models in September 2021 when it’s launched, and it's expected to go on sale before 2022. The current Kia Sportage range starts from £24,000 in the UK and €23,000 in Germany. Expect the new car to cost around £26,000 or €25,000.



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