Although the profile and rear of the new mid-sized SUV give an impression of evolution at work, it's the front end that truly sets the new 2016 Sportage apart from its predecessor.
Speaking with CarAdvice in Frankfurt this week, Kia Australia communications manager Kevin Hepworth allowed that the new-look fourth-generation Sportage will divide opinion.
Hepworth sees the new Sportage's potentially polarising face as a positive differentiator, however. "There's not much point in being vanilla," he said.
In the same trip to the Kia Design Centre Europe in Frankfurt, CarAdvice spoke with chief designer Gregory Guillaume, who said that the new Sportage has distinct European flair and keeps the best of the previous model while pushing the envelope.
"If you look at previous generations, or today’s car when it came out in that segment, there had never been such a sporty, such a dynamic, such a sexy looking car in that segment," Guillaume said.
"It won’t be on the same level of surprise, because it took everybody by surprise, the last one. And when you have such a successful car you don’t want to throw everything away.
"You have to analyse what you’re going to keep from the one before, yet you need a certain amount of new things for the car to become interesting again for everybody," he said.
The new Sportage will make its Australian debut in the first quarter of 2016, with pricing and final specifications to be confirmed closer to launch.