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The all-new Kia Sportage has been out and about around San Francisco recently and first impressions are nothing short of sensational.

Credit for the design must go to the 2007 Kia Kue concept car although; Kia Design Director Peter Schreyer and his team have created a bold new compact SUV, which thankfully maintains a close connection to the Kue concept.

This is the third generation Sportage and with looks like this, sister company Hyundai and every other player in the category, will need to watch their backs when the car is launched in Australia shortly.

Despite fairly ordinary styling, the second generation Sportage has been a huge success for the company, with over 860,000 cars sold since its launch in 2004.

That said the new car should better that number by more than a few (depending on price and equipment levels) but more importantly, act as a Halo car for the Kia brand and the inspiration of further new models in other automotive segments.

Michael Sprague, Vice President marketing and communications, Kia Motors America, had this to say about the 2011 Sportage, “Adding world-class design and cutting edge technologies to an already successful value-packed CUV equation, the all-new Sportage offers Kia the opportunity to attract an entirely new and more sophisticated customer.”

Sporting the new face of Kia, with its high beltline, sweeping angles and hunkered-down stance, the new Sportage still manages to retain features such as it’s high driving position and spacious interior, which made the car such a popular choice among buyers.

It’s also longer; wider, and lower, than the previous generation model, with extra clean lines and a good look from any angle.

As we have reported previously here at CarAdvice, the new Sportage will be built using a variety of engines to suit the different needs of different markets, but Australia is likely to get the Hyundai R engine in 2-litre form.

It’s a four-cylinder common rail direct injection unit with a variable geometry turbocharger and produces 135kW and a not too shabby 392Nm of torque. It also leads the class in efficiency too using just 6.6-litres/100km.

Hyundai also have a 2.2-litre version of the R series engine with an impressive 147kW and 441Nm of torque but I doubt we will see that used in the Sportage in Australia or any other market.

The petrol version option will most likely be the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) providing more power and better fuel efficiency than the current 2.7-litre V6 unit.

It should handle well too with specially tuned MacPherson Struts with all-new side load coil springs up front, and a multi-link rear suspension set up with dampers and coil springs mounted independently, which apart from the dynamic benefits, also add valuable cabin and boot space due to less intrusion into those areas.

Buyers will be able to choose between front-wheel drive and the newly developed Dynamax all-wheel drive mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, which will feature Kia’s proprietary Sportmatic clutchless shifting.

According to reports, Kia have gone to great lengths to ensure the new Sportage is considerably quieter and more refined than the previous model, while both front and rear suspension systems are mounted on a specially formed subframe for a more compliant ride.

Standard kit on board the Sportage is said to be extensive but until we attend the launch and know the details, we can’t be sure of trim levels and features although, expect a higher level of convenience than the previous generation.

If Kia is smart with the pricing of the 2011 Sportage, then expect to see plenty on Australian roads from the moment they hit the showroom floors.




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