Kia's fourth-generation Sportage compact crossover debuts a new look and a new trim level at the Frankfurt auto show.
FRANKFURT -- I never thought this combination of words would pass my lips, but here goes: Something about the new Kia Sportage reminds me of the Porsche Macan.
It's the front end that tricked my eye. The swept back headlamps and sculpted hood just scream, "Porsche!" The design of the fog lights reinforces the first impression.
However, the illusion falls apart from almost any other angle. From the front, the automaker's "Tiger Nose" grille becomes more prominent and the headlamps take on a sort of cock-eyed appearance.
The previous generation Sportage was already very sporty in design, but the new model attempts a more muscular and modern aesthetic.
Around back, the Kia abandons its distinctive tail light shape for a simplified -- dare I say, more Mazda-like? -- housing design.
The Frankfurt auto show marks the beginning of a new "GT Line" trim level for the Sportage, as well as the Cee'd and Procee'd compacts.
GT Line models feature styling upgrades that make the models appear more sporty. There's also a suspension tune that Kia says has been "tested on European roads with European buyers in mind."
The GT Line's interior also features sport-inspired materials design, which is punctuated by the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The European Sportage will be available with a variety of engines, including two 1.6-liter gasoline and 1.7- and 2-liter diesel options.
European dashboard software differs from what we'll see in the States.
Putting power to the road will be a new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission option which will be paired with either a front- or all-wheel drive system.
Outside of the GT Line, the Sportage is less aggressive and dark. For starters, the steering wheel is larger and perfectly round.
This will also be the first Kia model to make wireless smartphone charging available to its drivers.
Active driver aid technologies, such as forward pre-collision braking and lane-keeping assist, bring the Kia in line with the most modern tech cars.
In European markets, the Kia's connected navigation system will be powered by TomTom maps and routing software.
We're not sure whether the Sportage's Smart Park Assist automatic parallel parking feature will make its way to the North American model. We certainly hope so.
The new Sportage will be larger than the current one. The overall length grows by 40mm (1.6 inch), 30mm (1.2 inch) of which is thanks to a longer wheelbase.
The new headlamp housings are more compact and their new design seems to position the projectors higher on the fascia.
The Sportage's width and height are unchanged for the new generation.
This example is powered by the 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine option, making about 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
The fourth-generation Sportage will retain its new looks when it reaches North America, but its cabin tech, available engines and packaging will all be totally different.
The new Kia Sportage will go on sale in Europe in early 2016. We expect to learn more about North American availability later this year.
For better or worse, expect Kia's hands-free liftgate to make an appearance. While carrying the smart entry transponder, simply approach the rear hatch and it will open.
Be sure to check out all of CNET's coverage of the 2015 Frankfurt auto show.
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