This is the new Kia Sportage, which replaces the second-gen model that has sold 860,000 units since 2004. The Geneva showstar looks nothing like that car though, dumping the stodgy image to join Kia’s Peter Schreyer led design revolution.

Immediately recognisable as the younger brother to the Sorento, this new Sportage is longer, wider and lower than the previous model (by 90 mm, 15 mm and 60 mm respectively). Its 2640 mm wheelbase is 20 mm longer than a Honda CR-V’s even though the Kia is shorter overall by 80 mm – minimal overhangs see to that. Despite the size increase, weight is down by 91 kg model for model.

Two engine variants are available now; a 2.0-litre CRDi diesel with VGT (134 bhp/304 Nm) and the Theta II 2.0 petrol with 161 bhp/194 Nm. In both camps, smaller engines with Start/Stop will join later this year – a 1.7-litre CRDi (113 bhp/255 Nm) and a 1.6-litre version of the Theta II with 138 bhp and 166 Nm. The 2.0 models can be had with on-demand AWD with lock function for 50:50 torque split. All variants but the 2.0 petrol manual have six forward ratios.

Euro-spec models come with lots of kit, including ESC with a new Rollover Sensor (that pre-deploys the side airbags, curtain airbags and seatbelt pretensioners), Hillstart Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control (to limit speed during a steep descent) and an optional rear-view camera with LCD display integrated into the rear-view mirror.

Sharing much of its underpinnings with the soon to be launched in Malaysia Hyundai Tucson (called ix35 in Europe), both cars will be built in Slovakia, besides Korea of course. We can look forward to Naza Kia bringing this car to our shores, although it won’t be before the Sorento, which should debut sometime this year.

More pictures after the jump.

Kia Sportage live images from Geneva
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Kia Sportage official images
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