The FINANCIAL -- Kia Motors has revealed details of the upgraded 2018 Kia Sportage, the brand’s global best-selling vehicle. The new model boasts a refreshed exterior and interior design, as well as new safety and infotainment technologies. The mid-sized crossover utility vehicle (CUV) also offers buyers a range of new or upgraded powertrains that deliver high levels of efficiency.
Ho Sung Song, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Operations Division, Kia Motors Corporation, commented: “The Sportage has become a major contributor to Kia’s global success as the CUV segment continues to grow. The Sportage has introduced millions of buyers around the world to the Kia brand, and it now accounts for one in six Kia cars sold globally. It represents everything that Kia stands for as a brand – great design, the latest technologies, and high quality and reliability. The 2018 model is more compelling than ever, with a range of new powertrain advances, an updated design, and new features to further improve safety, comfort and convenience.”
Total worldwide sales of the Sportage reached more than 450,000 in 2017, with one sold somewhere in the world every 69 seconds. The five-millionth Sportage was built in March 2018, three months into the car’s 25th year on sale, following its introduction in 1993. The Sportage is produced at two Kia manufacturing facilities – in Žilina, Slovakia for European customers, and Gwangju, South Korea for most other markets.
Among the major upgrades is the 2.0-liter diesel engine, which is now available with Kia’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, and – in certain markets – 48-volt mild-hybrid power. The Sportage is also available with an all-new 1.6-liter diesel engine, employing the company’s new ‘SmartStream’ efficiency technologies. These new powertrains deliver greater performance and efficiency, and sit alongside the Sportage’s extensive range of gasoline engines to offer a suitable engine for every buyer.
The 48V diesel mild-hybrid unit is the first to be launched as part of Kia’s global powertrain electrification strategy. With this development, Kia becomes the first manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology across its full model line-up.
Global sales of the upgraded 2018 Kia Sportage commence during the third quarter of 2018.
Updates to attractive Kia CUV design, inside and out
The original design of the fourth-generation Sportage CUV was led by Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, with input from the company’s design centers in Namyang, Korea and Irvine, California. For 2018, the three studios have modernized the look of the Sportage, with a range of updates to its sporty exterior design. Changes extend to SX and GT Line models (depending on market – the Sportage SX is sold in North America; GT Line models in Europe, general markets and Korea), which feature a series of unique upgrades compared to other trim levels.
Improvements to the Sportage’s sporty exterior design include new front and rear bumpers, as well as redesigned front and rear lamps. Depending on market, new 16-, 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs are available, and options include chrome sill trim and metallic skid plates, and a range of new paint colors.
SX and GT Line models are equipped with a gloss black hot-stamped radiator grille, a gloss black and silver skid plate, and dark chrome inserts on the side sills and rear tailgate. The model’s unique 19-inch alloy wheels have been redesigned, and all models are fitted with a dual exhaust rear valance and revised ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamps.
While the layout of the cabin is retained, a series of upgrades further engender a sense of modernity. The upgraded model is equipped with a new steering wheel and revised driver instrument cluster, while the cabin is available with new upholstery designs. SX and GT Line models are available with new two-tone fabric and leather seats as standard, or with optional two-tone leather seats, with colors varying by market. The design of the ventilation and air conditioning controls at the centre of the dashboard has also been revised, with new bezels around the dials adding further clarity to the dashboard layout.
New ‘SmartStream’ 1.6-liter diesel engine – Kia’s cleanest diesel ever
The 2018 Sportage is available in Europe and Korea with Kia’s new 1.6-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine. The cleanest diesel engine the company has ever made, the new power unit replaces the Sportage’s existing 1.7-liter CRDi (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine. Developed with Kia’s ‘SmartStream’ innovations, the new 1.6-liter engine delivers greater efficiency and fuel economy.
Combustion is made more efficient with the adoption of a new high-efficiency fuel injection system and revised valvetrain. The engine’s four reshaped cylinder heads create a ‘bowl’ shape in the combustion chamber for a more equal distribution of air and fuel from the injectors to aid combustion. The new turbocharger system, integrated into the cylinder head, recirculates hot exhaust gases more efficiently to more effectively balance performance and efficiency.
Elements of the crankshaft and pistons have been redesigned to reduce mechanical friction within the engine, allowing it to rotate more freely to further enhance efficiency. These modifications are supported by a new Integrated Thermal Management System (ITMS), further aiding heating and efficiency. The ITMS intelligently distributes coolant throughout the cylinder head, engine block, radiator, and transmission oil heat exchange, enabling the engine to warm up to optimal operating temperatures sooner. The system more closely manages engine temperatures throughout the course of a drive for maximum efficiency.
Kia’s new SmartStream engine also benefits from reduced weight compared to its 1.7-liter predecessor. The cylinder block and head are both cast in aluminum, and the smaller displacement renders the engine 18 kg lighter than that which it replaces, reducing overall vehicle weight. Smaller, lighter components also reduce component inertia throughout the engine.
The new 1.6-liter ‘SmartStream’ engine is available with a choice of power outputs: 115 or 136 ps. Driving the front wheels via six-speed manual transmission as standard, 136 ps models are also available with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed double-clutch transmission. In markets adhering to the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard, the engine also features Kia’s selective catalytic reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to reduce NOx and diesel particulate matter. Idle Stop & Go (ISG) is also available.
The engine’s SmartStream technologies enable the car to travel up to 16.3 kilometers on a single liter of fuel on the Worldwide-harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) combined cycle (in markets following the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard) – the highest fuel economy of any mid-sized CUV. In Europe, one of the largest markets for the new engine, carbon dioxide emissions are rated from 126 g/km for 115 ps models, and 123 g/km for higher-powered models (combined, WLTP, converted back to New European Driving Cycle)
2.0-liter diesel engine available with new eight-speed auto and mild-hybrid power
The 2018 Sportage continues to offer a high-powered 2.0-liter diesel engine, with the latest model introducing new powertrain options for buyers depending on market.
For customers in Europe, the Sportage is the first Kia to be available with the brand’s new 2.0-liter ‘R’ diesel mild-hybrid powertrain. For other global markets, the 2.0-liter diesel engine is now available with a smooth-shifting new eight-speed automatic transmission (without the mild-hybrid system).
The mild-hybrid system has been engineered to deliver greater efficiency, delivering and recuperating electric power to supplement the internal combustion engine seamlessly. Acceleration is aided by power from a compact 0.44 kWh 48-volt lithium-ion battery, and engine ‘off time’ is extended with the adoption of a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG) unit. The MHSG is connected by belt to the engine’s crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between ‘motor’ and ‘generator’ modes.
In ‘motor’ mode the battery is discharged under acceleration, providing up to 12 kW of electric power assistance to the engine, to reduce engine load and emissions. Under deceleration – when braking, or coasting towards a junction or downhill – the MHSG switches to ‘generator’ mode, recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery on-the-go. An advanced Electronic Control Unit (ECU) calculates the most efficient use of available energy and adjusts accordingly, taking into account the amount of charge remaining in the car’s batteries.
The battery and MHSG also support a new ‘Moving Stop & Start’ function. If the battery has sufficient charge, the combustion engine turns off automatically during in-gear deceleration and braking. The MHSG seamlessly re-ignites the engine when the driver presses the throttle pedal.
The compact nature of the mild-hybrid powertrain made it relatively straightforward to integrate into the Sportage’s existing architecture. The 48-volt battery is located beneath the trunk floor, minimizing the impact on practicality. Because the MHSG integrates directly with the engine, driving the crankshaft via a belt, there was little need to repackage the engine bay.
In Europe, equipped with Kia’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology, the new mild-hybrid powertrain can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 4% on the Worldwide-harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). Tested on WLTP and converted back to NEDC, CO2 emissions for the new powertrain are rated in Europe from 138 g/km for models equipped with a manual transmission, and from 149 g/km when paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission (combined).
The new powertrain is paired with the Sportage’s all-wheel drive system, transmitting power via six-speed manual or a newly-adopted eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain produces 185 ps and 400 Nm torque.
For selected global markets, the 2.0-liter diesel engine is available to buyers with a choice of front- and all-wheel drive, as well as a six-speed manual, in addition to the optional new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Smart safety technologies and new infotainment systems
Depending on market, the upgraded Sportage adopts Kia’s latest advanced driving assistance systems, including Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go, an Surround View Monitor for easier parking maneuvers, and Driver Attention Warning, to combat fatigue and inattentiveness at the wheel. Customers have a choice of Kia’s new infotainment systems: a 7.0-inch touchscreen, or a new ‘frameless’ 8.0-inch infotainment system.
The line-up of gasoline engines remains the same in the upgraded Sportage, and varies by market. The Sportage can be equipped with a choice of two T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engines with 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter displacement. Three naturally-aspirated engines are also available – a 2.0-liter MPI (multi-point injection) engine, as well as 1.6-liter and 2.4-liter GDi engines.