Naza Kia Malaysia today launched the all-new Kia Sportage; the SUV – which was teased last week – was unveiled at the KLCC earlier this evening. Rolling in at RM138,888 (on-the-road, with insurance), the Sportage is well set to take the fight to the competition within its price segment.

For one, the vehicle finally has the looks to do so – where the previous Sportage, which was facelifted last April, was a very functional and practical offering, its looks were kind of utilitarian, to put it simply. The new offering, with its more urban and fluid silhouette, changes the ballgame considerably – very much a looker, this is in essence a scaled-down version of the Sorento.

With a high belt line, sweeping angles and pronounced wheel flares, the design conveys a modern and athletic appearance, so it goes. Its full-sectioned body is defined by a spearing shoulder line throughout the length of the car, which visually connects the headlamps and tail lights.

In keeping things in line with the family look, the vehicle – which is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor – features Kia’s signature grille, and the 18-inch alloy wheels (rather bling, like the Optima’s) and 235/55 series tyres help lend the SUV even more presence.

It’s not just looks with this one though; the new Sportage features increased levels of performance, efficiency, comfort, convenience as well as loads of equipment and tech.

The Sportage is powered by a Theta II 2.0 petrol engine which features dual CVVT (continuous variable valve timing), and the mill – offering 166 PS and 197 Nm of torque – is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Other than continuous variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust, the engine also features a Variable Intake System which uses a long runner at low RPM and a short runner at high RPM to optimise intake airflow.

It wears an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system which continuously monitors driving conditions and anticipates AWD system requirements – during normal driving conditions, the AWD system delivers 100% of engine torque to the front wheels to enhance fuel economy. However, when wheel slippage is detected, a certain percentage of engine torque is transferred to the rear wheels.

There is also a four-wheel drive (4WD) lock mode, with the torque split up to a maximum rear bias of 50:50 for low traction surfaces. This 4WD lock mode automatically disengages above speeds of 30km/h to return to automatic mode.

In terms of ride and handling, the Sportage features MacPherson struts at the front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension as well as an amplitude selective damper, which facilitates instant reaction in wheel movement and maintains optimal damping and level quality, and offers more precise road contact, better ride comfort and increased handling precision, Kia says.

Inside the cabin, features include full leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, push-start ignition, leather seats, dual-zone temperature control air-conditioner (with ionised filtration), an illuminated and cooled glove box as well as an eight-way electronically powered seat for the driver. Oh, and let’s not forget a panoramic sunroof, which can be partially retracted.

Other items on the list are a six-CD changer with a seven speaker system (two tweeters, four midrange units and a subwoofer) as well as AUX, USB, iPod (cable included, we hear) and Bluetooth connectivity, integrated LED turn signals on the side mirrors, a rear view camera display on the rear view mirror, auto headlights, electronic chromic mirror, a rear parking assist system and auto cruise control.

Besides LED daytime running lights, the Sportage features what Kia calls headlamp escort, otherwise known as get-me-home lighting, whereby the headlamps remain turned on for 30 seconds after the engine has been turned off.

In terms of safety, the five-star Euro NCAP rated Sportage comes with six airbags, ABS, EBD, downhill brake control, hill-start assist control, cornering brake control, brake assist system and a traction control system. It also comes with a 5 year warranty, which Naza Kia says is fully backed by the manufacturer and not a manufacturer + extended insurance warranty plan.

Five colours are available for the SUV, which are techno orange, sand track, mineral silver, bright silver and clear white. Naza Kia is targeting monthly sales of 200 units a month for the Sportage, which is quite conservative given what the SUV is, and offers.