Kia's redesigned mid-size crossover will be preceded by a new Sorento seven-seater as Kia builds SUV momentum in 2015
Kia's next-generation Sportage is set to arrive in Australia late this year, bringing with it expected across-the-board upgrades in technology, safety, the potential of some slick new engines and a brand-new design.
Last year the Sportage was Kia's second-best selling model in the Australian market after the Cerato small car, and in the first month of 2015 it is the top-selling model, highlighting how crucial the SUV model is for the brand.
The fourth-generation model is expected to build on the popularity of the current model, priced between $25,990 and $41,590, by delivering an contemporary new look courtesy of Kia design chief Peter Schreyer and could make a surprise appearance at a major motor show in the next six months.
Following its global premiere, it will be launched in Australia late in 2015 -- if Kia Motors Australia CEO Damien Meredith gets his way.
"We're hoping to get the all-new Sportage in the last quarter of this year," he said.
"It's all-new, not a facelift," he clarified, stating that there would be no changes to the current Sportage until the new 2016 model arrives.
Meredith wouldn't be drawn on how the Mk4 Sportage's design will evolve, but previous spy shots and these fresh ones shot near the Arctic Circle (where Hyundai's new Tucson was spotted alongside), show it won't depart radically from the distinctive design motif that helped shape the Kia brand when it was first revealed in at the 2010 Geneva motor show.
"I haven't seen it yet but we've got the utmost confidence in our designers, engineers and R&D team and they haven't let us down in the last cycles of all vehicles.
The current Sportage is offered with a pair of four-cylinder 2.0-litre engines – a 122kW/205Nm petrol and a 135kW/392Nm diesel – matched to front- and all-wheel drive systems.
European sources suggest that at least in some markets the new Sportage will bring improved 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engines and an upgraded 1.6 petrol, plus an all-new 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine and even Hyundai-Kia's 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four. At least the T-GDi engines will be matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Another feather in Kia's SUV cap for 2015 will the arrival of a brand-new Sorento here in June-July.
The Korean brand's big new seven-seat SUV will provide it with a more sophisticated product to take on sales leaders such as the Toyota Prado and Kluger, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Holden Captiva 7 and Ford Territory.
We reviewed the new vehicle during its international launch in the Spain last month and rated it highly following improvements in interior quality, practicality and overall refinement.
"We're getting an all-new Sorento half way through this year," Meredith confirmed to motoring.com.au.
"It'll get some of the tech about to debut on the new Carnival," he observed, perhaps referring to radar-based adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection and lane-departure warning systems.
"What it brings to us is a good competitor in that large SUV segment, a big segment. We believe we'll get more volume out of it. It'll be a real competitor"
Kia will also launch its new Optima in November, headlined by a new turbocharged performance hero car.