The updated Kia Sportage will offer tweaked styling, a new petrol engine, higher-quality cabin materials, new technology features, and the promise of improved refinement when it launches in Australia in late April or early May.

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Revealed at the Geneva motor show, the upgraded Kia Sportage - which will still be built in Slovakia for our market - is distinguished from its predecessor by its new front grille, revised LED tail-light clusters, newly designed 16- to 18-inch alloy wheels, and shark fin roof antenna.

Soft-touch materials replace hard plastics across the dashboard and door sills, while the seats feature new cloth/leather upholstery combinations.

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Curiously, Kia’s three-mode FlexSteer system with Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings will not be available in our market. A rear-view camera will, however, be standard at least on SLi and Platinum grades, and may also be fitted to the entry-level Si in Australia.

Made available again will be electrically adjustable front seats, which were deleted from the Sportage when production shifted from South Korea to Slovakia last year. Also available will be a heated steering wheel, and a premium seven-speaker Infinity by Harman sound system with subwoofer and external amplifier, available with 4.3-inch and 7.0-inch navigation screens, will be finalised closer to the Sportage’s local launch.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection ‘Nu’ engine replaces the old 2.0-litre multi-point injection unit. Power is unchanged at 122kW while torque rises 8Nm to 205Nm.

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The manual transmission in the entry-level front-wheel-drive variant gains a ratio (now a six-speed), aiding a 10 per cent improvement in claimed combined cycle fuel consumption (now 7.8 litres per 100km).

The six-speed automatic version is fractionally thirstier at 7.9L/100km (also down 10 per cent), while the all-wheel-drive petrol auto claims 8.3L/100km combined (down six per cent).

Outputs of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine are unchanged at 135kW and 392Nm, though Kia claims a 0.1L/100km combined cycle economy improvement for the all-wheel-drive variant, now rated at 7.1L/100km.

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Kia claims three engineering revisions deliver reduced vibration levels. The front sub-frame is now bush-mounted rather than bolted directly to the body shell; an intermediate shaft has been added to the drivetrain, resulting in equal-length front drive shafts; and a new transmission mounting bracket has been introduced, providing greater rigidity and reduced resonance.

An interlayer film between the glass laminations of the windscreen promises reduced wind noise.

The Sportage’s electronic stability control system now incorporates a trailer stability control system, which aims to provide greater security when towing.

The update arrives just under a year after Kia Australia announced the introduction of the Slovakian-built Sportage Series II, which became the first Kia model produced outside South Korea to be sold in our market.