Kia’s smaller, sportier-looking Sportage revealed for Europe

Kia has unveiled the European-spec version of the 2023 Sportage, which is shorter than the model that will be sold in the United States. It was tailored specifically to road sizes and customer preferences across the pond.

Little sets the American and the European variants of the new Sportage apart when they’re viewed from the front. It’s what’s behind the front seats that’s different: the wheelbase is shorter, the third side window is eliminated, and it features a subtly redesigned rear end. Kia explained it dialed in “the optimal wheelbase and ideal dimensions and proportions for European roads,” where bigger cars tend to be difficult to drive and challenging to park.

Riding on a 105-inch wheelbase, the Sportage measures 177.7 inches long, 73.4 inches wide, and 64.7 inches tall. For context, our version stretches about 183 inches long, which is about six inches longer than the outgoing model. In short, the Euro-spec Sportage picks up where the fourth-generation model left off, while the American-spec model grows in size. And yet, it nonetheless offers more space for people and gear than its predecessor.

Buyers in Europe have several engines to choose from, including a 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder available with either 115 or 136 horsepower plus a gasoline-burning four and a plug-in hybrid system. Either diesel is can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic, while the plug-in hybrid is automatic-only.

Photos published by Kia’s British division also provide a fascinating look at how the Sportage has evolved since the original model made its debut in 1993. It started out as humble and cheap, but it got markedly more stylish and even a little upscale over the course of five generations. Nothing visually links the original Sportage and the latest model.

Kia will present the European Sportage at the 2021 Munich auto show opening its doors to the press on September 6. Sales will start shortly after. As of writing, very little suggests the short-wheelbase model will be sold in America.

While this is the first time Kia has developed a Sportage specifically for Europe, a move which illustrate how far the brand has come in a market where it was shunned for many years, it’s not the first time it has offered the crossover in different flavors. The first-generation Sportage was offered with two or four doors, and a version of the latter body style with a stretched rear overhang was made available in some international markets, including Australia.

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