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Top of the class: RAY MASSEY tries the all-new Kia Sportage in the week the family SUV bagged the number one spot in the sales charts

Let’s give a big cheer to Kia which has launched the fifth generation of its popular five-seater Sportage family SUV which I’ve just spent a pleasant day driving ahead of first deliveries this week. 

Five trim grades rise from: 2, 3, 4, GT Line and GT Line S, in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with prices from £26,745. 

All eight engine variants are based around 1.6-litre turbo petrol or diesel, including standard, mild hybrids, and self-charging hybrids, with a plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive due in spring. 

On a roll: Kia’s Sportage, its sales flagship, gets a new generation boost On a roll: Kia’s Sportage, its sales flagship, gets a new generation boost

On a roll: Kia’s Sportage, its sales flagship, gets a new generation boost

And what perfect timing as for the first time the Kia Sportage was on Friday named the biggest selling UK car in January (3,458 sales) and Kia the biggest selling car firm with 10,504 sales

Kia UK ended 2021 on a high, with 90,817 new car sales and a record market share of 5.5 per cent.

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Paul Philpott, president and CEO of Kia UK Limited said: ‘This is a fantastic achievement for our brand and our dealer network, who have all worked hard to deliver our award-winning model line-up to customers.’ 

Since its first arrival in Britain in 1995, more than 327,500 have been sold, with the outgoing fourth-generation model launched in 2016 accounting for nearly 200,000 of the total. 

Kia hopes to sell a record 100,000 cars here this year, of which one in three could be fifth-gen Sportages. I drove two versions of the beefy, fully-stocked, range-topping 226 bhp 1.6 GT-Line S hybrid, starting with the front-wheel drive option. 

Priced from £38,645, mine was £39,445 thanks to a few ‘extras’. 

It’s spacious, comfortable, enjoyable to drive and easy and intuitive to master, with supportive seats, a commanding view, a funky twist of design, and some clever tricks up its sleeve including fold-away cup-holders. It’s chock-full with driver-assist and safety kit and features panoramic sunroof and modern interior. 

There are just two drive modes: ‘eco’ for everyday driving and cruising, and ‘sport’ for a performance feel. 

Will it fit in my garage?: New fifth generation Kia Sportage 

Model tested: 1.6 GT-Line S Hybrid Front Wheel Drive

Price: from £38,645 on the road

Price as tested: £39,445

Sportage range priced from: £26,745

On sale: Now

First deliveries: This week

Propulsion: petrol-electric hybrid

Length: 4,515mmWidth: 1,865mm

Height: 1,645mm (1,650mm with roof-rack)

Wheelbase: 2,680mm

Gross weight: 2,175kg

Kerb weight: 1,649kg

Engine: 1.6 litre petrol

Battery: 1.49kWh lithium ion polymer battery

Power: 226bhp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds

Top speed: 120mph

Average fuel consumption: 48.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 132g/km

Boot space: 587 litres

Rear seat folded: 1,776 litres 

It accelerates in decent order from rest to 62mph in 7.7 seconds up to a top speed of 120mph, where legal. Easy on the pocket, too, with an average 48.7 mpg fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 132g/km.

I also took the all-wheel drive for a spin, including some light off-roading along a muddy track and field. It felt very together and even more planted on the road. 

Not for serious off-roading, but it may get you out of a rut at a drenched Glastonbury Festival.

The bottom of the Sportage’s 12.3-inch curved touchscreen has a clever ‘multi modal’ button which, when you press it, gives a different set of touch switches – halving the amount of space taken up. 

Press the ‘Terrain’ button on the all-wheel drive version and you can set it for Snow, Mud and Sand. 

Behind the powered tailgate is 587 litres of boot-space with the rear seats in place, extending to three times that (1,776 litres) with the seats down. 

Not forgetting, of course, the industry-leading seven-year warranty from the Korean car firm that really is getting into its stride. 

So all in all a pretty good package from an SUV that’s an engaging and practical drive for families who want value for money but in a car that will also seriously impress the neighbours. 

The first generation Sportage sold just under 11,000 in the eight years to 2003. 

Last year alone, some 27,000 Sportages were bought by British customers.

No wonder the Kia Sportage is Britain’s best-selling vehicle and brand.

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