THE Sportage has been around in the UK since 1995 and is the biggest-selling Kia model in Britain, Europe and across the world.

This successful compact crossover is clearly a vital vehicle for the South Korean manufacturer, so every facelift or relaunch is watched closely across the motoring industry.

This year, Kia brought a firth-generation Sportage to the market, with a ground-up redesign that took the vehicle’s hitherto steady evolution into overdrive.

So much has changed for 2022 that it’s a very different SUV to the outgoing model, with the all-new version hitting the mark in just about every way possible.

Yeovil Express: The Kia Sportage

With sharper premium styling, a raft of advanced tech and more interior space, there’s a lot to like.

Designed and developed especially for the European market, there’s a choice of petrol, diesel and various hybrid powertrains.

The 1,598-litre petrol version, tested here, seemed to strike a nice balance between power and economy, proving swift enough in most everyday driving situations while recording real world fuel consumption in the 35mpg-40mpg region.

The Sportage feels well-balanced when cornering, with very little by way of body roll. While a four-wheel drive version is available, this front-wheel drive car felt grippy enough.

The revamped look of the Sportage is one of the most intriguing developments.

Indeed, something significant is taking place at the moment in terms of Kia’s design philosophy.

Yeovil Express: The Kia Sportage pictured in the rather dull weather seen across West Yorkshire throughout much of May

The Sportage’s appearance embodies the so-called ‘Opposites United’ approach, typified by a sleek yet muscular exterior design.

This style was first seen on Kia’s eye-catching EV6 – which has won many plaudits – and also works well on the Sportage, making for an assertive road presence.

The front end is distinguished by a modern interpretation of Kia’s signature Tiger Nose grille, nicely integrated with the contemporary-looking headlamps.

Taut and crisp lines feature along the side of the vehicle, cutting across the clean but refined body surfaces.

At the rear, a chrome beltline kicks up to mirror the angle of the rear spoiler above, creating a cohesive look.

Yeovil Express: The Kia Sportage

As you work your way up the trim trail, the option of a two-tone black roof is available for the first time on ‘GT-Line S’ models.

The car has been built on Kia’s brand-new ‘N3’ architecture, and is 30mm longer, 10mm wider, and 10mm higher than its predecessor.

This makes for a spacious interior for passengers and luggage, with front seat passengers able to spread out and second-row occupants having 996mm of legroom thanks to new slimline front seats.

Meanwhile, boot capacity comes in at up to 591 litres, rising to 1,780 litres with the rear seats folded down, adding to this family-orientated car’s obvious versatility.

To put it simply, you get greater headroom, legroom, and boot space than the outgoing Sportage.

Buyers are given a choice of 18 different versions, with even this entry-level ‘2’ model – priced at £26,775 – coming comprehensively equipped with 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch display, LED daytime running lights, forward collision-avoidance assist, and a 4.2-inch supervision colour cluster display.

The overall fit and finish of the cabin feels high-quality, being a long way removed from the cheap and cheerful feel that went with earlier Sportages.

Yeovil Express: The Kia Sportage

Indeed, it’s a modern cabin that feels beautifully sculpted, with a number of soft-touch premium materials in evidence. Meanwhile, the ergonomically-optimised centre console offers easy storage solutions for front occupants. The cupholders fold into the console when not in use at the touch of a button, amplifying the clever nature of the Sportage’s cabin.

In conclusion, the improvements brought about by the fifth-generation model will keep the Sportage at the forefront of a packed and highly-competitive marketplace.

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi ‘2’ 2WD

PRICE: £26,775 on the road

ENGINE: 1,598-litre turbocharged petrol, 148bhp

PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph: 9.9 seconds and top speed 109mph

TRANSMISSION: Six speed manual, front wheel drive

ECONOMY: 42.2mpg combined and emissions of 152g/km