The latest Kia Sportage Hybrid – revealed for the Korean and North American markets in long-wheelbase guise – would serve as a direct rival to the top-selling Toyota, though the Korean brand’s local arm still hasn’t been able to get the go-ahead from head office.
“These matters take time, we don’t have a final confirmation either way from HQ,” said Roland Rivero, product boss for Kia Australia.
Part of the issue is ongoing supply. Australia sources the Sportage from Korea, which supplies hybrid models to North America and the domestic market – petrol-only models for the US are made in Alabama.
Mr Rivero has previously said that Kia Australia is “pretty keen and seriously looking at the [Sportage] Hybrid” and that its viability for our market is a matter of “making sure the numbers work”.
Power in the Sportage Hybrid comes from the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol hybrid system as the larger Sorento Hybrid, combining with a 44kW/264Nm electric motor mounted ahead of the transmission for system outputs of 169kW and 350Nm. That compares to the RAV4 Hybrid’s 160kW in FWD spec and 163kW in eFour AWD guise.
Fuel consumption in Korea is listed at 5.9L/100km (16.7km/L) in its most efficient form, though it’s worth noting the Korean fuel consumption and electric range metrics are usually quite conservative. The RAV4 Hybrid, by comparison, claims a frugal 4.8L/100km.
The electrified Sportage is available with front- and all-wheel drive in other markets, though it’s unclear whether Kia Australia would bring both drivetrain options like the larger Sorento Hybrid.
It’s a similar story for sister brand Hyundai and its related Tucson Hybrid, which currently is off the cards for Australia given the Korean factory supplies the domestic market and high-volume North American region.
The only right-hand drive production of electrified Sportages and Tucsons currently comes out of Europe for the UK, though the EU region’s preference for a bespoke, short-wheelbase model means it’s not viable for our market.
Kia has committed to hybrid SUVs however, in the form of the larger Sorento Hybrid (late February) as well as the smaller Niro Hybrid (Q3 2022), which line up against the Toyota Kluger Hybrid and C-HR Hybrid/Corolla Cross Hybrid respectively.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest, and let us know in the comments below if you’d be interested in buying a Kia Sportage Hybrid if it was made available to Australia.
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