No, that’s not a typo. Kia Australia finally brought Sportage Hybrid (or HEV) to Australia, and will likely arrive early next year.
Talk with Car ExpertKia’s local boss for product planning, Roland Rivero, confirmed production of the local model will begin in South Korea in the fourth quarter of 2023 ahead of the sales launch early 2024.
The timeline aligns with Kia’s usual pattern of introducing new models at the Australian Open tennis grand slam, of which the Korean brand is an official partner and recently extended its contract until 2028.
After a stellar year that saw it finish third overall in the manufacturer sales race, Kia will finally have a rival to the best-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and finally offer an electric option for the popular mid-size crossover.
2022 saw the new-generation Sportage return 18,792 registrations, placing it fourth in the segment behind the Toyota RAV4 (34,845 units), Mazda CX-5 (27,062 units) and Mitsubishi Outlander (19,546 units).
Both the RAV4 and Outlander offer electric options, and the RAV4 Hybrid accounts for the bulk of orders for Toyota’s mid-size SUV.
Power in the Sportage HEV comes from the same 1.6 liter turbocharged petrol-electric hybrid system as the larger Sorento HEV, which incorporates a 132kW/265Nm four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 44kW/264Nm electric motor and 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer batteries.
The output of the system is called at 169kW and 350Nm, which will make the Sportage one of the more powerful vehicles in the segment, period. The RAV4 Hybrid offers 160kW-163kW (but does not quote system torque), while the Subaru Forester Hybrid only generates 110kW and 196Nm.
In overseas markets the Sportage Hybrid is available in both FWD and AWD versions, with all variants featuring a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. The US model, which shares the same long body as the Aussie variant, quotes up to 43mpg on the combined cycle, which converts to 5.47L per 100km using local metrics.
The North American arm also claims the Sportage Hybrid can go over 500 miles (804km) between fill-ups of its 52-litre tank, bordering on diesel-like range.
Mr. Rivero added that supply for the Sportage Hybrid will be better than what we saw for the Sorento HEV, and that the local division is looking into offering more than one variant. Car Expert expect a high-spec GT-Line to be offered based on the previous form, as well as a low- or mid-spec grade in line with the existing S or SX spec.
Kia recently had to close its local order book of the larger Sorento Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid due to a growing backlog and crippled supply of electric variants – which max out at 20 HEVs and 10 PHEVs per month. It’s a similar story for the smaller Niro HEV, of which Kia gets about 50 units a month.
Supply conditions will likely determine the breadth of variants offered by the local branch, and pricing is expected to follow the structure of the larger Sorento Hybrid.
Currently, Sorento HEV FWD and AWD command a $4700 premium over equivalent GT-Line V6 FWD and Diesel AWD versions. Given the more price-sensitive segment the Sportage competes in, we expect a similar $4000-4500 premium for the Sportage HEV – Kia has previously acknowledged that this aspect is critical.
By comparison, Toyota charges about $2500 more for the 2WD Hybrid than the equivalent 2WD petrol, with the E-Four AWD version adding another $3000. The Subaru Forester Hybrid costs $3000 more than the equivalent 2.5i AWD petrol in Australia.
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