The Kia Sportage has been giving some running changes for 2024 in the South Korean domestic market, including enhancements to safety and refinement as well as a special edition.
Kia is celebrating the nameplate’s 30th anniversary in 2023, with the Sportage having first gone on sale in 1993 as “the world’s first urban SUV”, according to the Korean brand. As such, the new Sportage 30th Edition for the Korean market commemorates three decades of the popular crossover.
The Kia Sportage 30th Edition is based on the Korean-market Gravity, which is fairly aligned with the GT-Line variant we get here in Australia. Over the model on which it’s based, the 30th Edition extends gloss black trim to the grille, front and rear bumper inserts, as well as the lower door garnish and alloy wheels.
Inside, the Sportage 30th Edition picks up quilted green leather seats contrasted with black suede. There’s even ‘Sportage 30’ embossing on the front headrests.
Further to the commemorative edition, the 2024 model-year Sportage for Korea also adds double-glazed front windows across the range, with high-spec models also getting double-glazed windows at the rear, all claimed to improve cabin refinement on the move.
Kia has also added rear-side airbags to all versions of the Sportage in the domestic market, claimed to be the first vehicle in its segment in South Korea to fit the additional inflators as standard equipment.
As for whether these changes will be applied to Australian models, Kia’s local product planning boss told CarExpert current challenges with supply and component shortages are forcing the Australian arm to focus on fulfilling an extensive bank of orders before any adjustments to specification.
“We’re currently focused on working through component-related backorders for Sportage, of which there are thousands,” said Roland Rivero, general manager for product planning at Kia Australia.
“The MY24 updates for the Korean market aren’t planned for Australian models at this stage, as we are focused on securing better supply and introducing the first-ever Sportage Hybrid in the first quarter of 2024.”
“We are constantly working with head office to negotiate better supply, though we anticipated these challenges will remain throughout the second half of 2023,” Mr Rivero added.
Kia Australia has a recent track record of saving more significant changes for mid-life facelifts rather than applying yearly running changes.
For example, while Kia Connect has been rolled out globally in models like the Sportage, Sorento and EV6, Australians will have to wait for the facelift of each to get the on-board telematics and remote services suite.
It’s unclear when the Sportage will be in for its mid-life upgrade, given it only launched here late in 2021, but given we’ve seen spy photos of updated Hyundai Tucson prototypes doing the rounds in Europe, it shouldn’t be long before we see early mules for the next Sportage hitting the road.
With that in mind, we could see a facelift at some point in 2024, three years after the current model debuted – in line with a typical three to four year product lifecycle. An Australian launch could follow in the months afterwards, pointing to a potential late-2024 or early-2025 arrival.
Earlier this year Mr Rivero confirmed with CarExpert the local division was forced to pause sales of the top-spec Sportage GT-Line due to semiconductor shortages affecting various features of the flagship grade.
“The fact is, Kia Australia and our dealers are struggling to keep up with Sportage demand, with various components suffering from supply shortages,” Mr Rivero said in February.
“Naturally, the top-of-the-range variants with the most microchips are the most affected.”
It’s understood the Sportage GT-Line variants – both 1.6T AWD petrol and 2.0D AWD diesel versions are offered – account for nearly a third of all Sportage orders in Australia.
Sportage sales have taken a hit in 2023 as a result, down 24.9 per cent year to date (6584 units).
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