While it seems a little early for Kia’s Sportage to gain a visual refresh, the manufacturer apparently didn’t feel its new engine option should arrive unaccompanied. The automaker is launching a 48-volt diesel mild hybrid system in Europe for 2019, and chucked in a handful of aesthetic enhancements for good measure.
The jury’s still out on the motor’s availability in North America. While the diesel decline in Europe is palpable, they still sell a lot more passenger cars equipped with them than we do. However, since it does fall into that weird hybrid category, there’s a chance it could crop up in extremely limited numbers. We’d bank on seeing a mild hybrid system from Kia make its way to the U.S. and Canada soon, only coupled to a gasoline motor. But expect to see some upgraded bodywork and interior touches for the coming model year.
Visual updates for the 2019 model take a minimalist approach but work well as a whole. Front and rear bumpers illicit a more premium appearance, making the new version look like a higher-trimmed sporting variant of the old one. The tail lamps have undergone a subtle redesign and the reverse lights are now stacked atop the low-mounted indicators.
Kia also added some tasteful changes to the fog lamps and new wheel designs in every size. Optional extras include a chrome trim pieces on higher trims, some new paint colors, and metallic skid plates.
Interior revisions include a new steering wheel, revised instrument cluster, and new two-tone upholstery. Kia’s also offering its Smart Cruise Control setup with Stop & Go, Driver Attention Warnings, and a multi-camera surround system to help with parking.
For European customers, Kia intends to offer a 2.0-liter ‘R’ diesel engine paired with the aforementioned 48-volt hybrid system. The electrical components will eventually be affixed to gasoline models and, when they are, you can expect to see it in North America. Euro-spec Sportages also gain a downsized 1.6-liter diesel, which replaces the 1.7-liter and uses common-rail direct injection.
The crossover’s domestic motors have yet to be announced, but we have little reason to believe Kia won’t carry over the engines from last year. These amount to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Kia says it will specify pricing and alterations for the North American Sportage later this year.
[Images: Kia Motors]