The all-new 2016 Kia Sportage has been launched in its home market of South Korea, a couple of weeks before it makes its world premiere at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The fourth-gen C-segment crossover will be offered in four trim levels, priced between 21.7 million won (RM77,300) and 28.6 million won (RM102,000).

As we’ve seen, the new Sportage’s looks are quite the departure from the outgoing car, even though the profile, window shape and bulging wheel arches have been retained. At the front, the headlights sit pod-like up top, while the rear end sees sharp LED combination tail lights bridged by a chrome bar. Options include “ice cube” LED fog lights, skid plates, dual exhaust mufflers and a range of 16-, 17- and 19-inch wheels.

Inside, there’s a more sophisticated cabin, taking inspiration from the new Carens and Sorento, but with a more driver-oriented design. The dash top stitching and liberal use of brightwork add to the occasion, and Kia promises a far greater proportion of soft touch plastics, as well as added soundproofing for improved refinement.

sub2_visual-2

Toys include a Qi wireless charger for smartphones and a Hyundai Sonata-esque proximity-activated Smart Power Tailgate; in addition, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, piano black fascia and alloy pedals can be specified for those who want a sportier look. Safety kit now includes Automated Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Blind Spot Detection (BSD).

Despite length and width being unchanged, length has grown by 40 mm and the wheelbase by 30 mm, and Kia promises more head- and legroom both front and rear. The boot has grown too, from 465 litres to 503 litres, and visibility – an area the third-generation model has long struggled with – is claimed to have been improved thanks to thinner pillars, a lower A-pillar base and a taller rear windscreen.

Thanks to increased use of ultra-high-strength (up to 51%) and hot-stamped steel, torsional rigidity has been bumped up by 39%, and revised dampers, bushings and wheel bearings and geometry; a repositioned steering gearbox and a stiffer rear cross member improve ride, stability and agility. There are also larger brakes and a new rack-mounted electric power steering motor that provides added feel and linearity – something we have been clamouring for years from Korean cars.

In its home market, the Sportage is motivated by diesel power only – the 2.0 litre R CRDi turbodiesel with a stop-start system produces 186 PS and 400 Nm; a six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all variants, with a six-speed manual an option on the base model. There will also be a 1.7 litre U CRDi oil-burner, paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.