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Announced late last month by Kia Motors Europe, the new Kia Sportage has gone on sale in the UK, the only right-hand drive market in the region. The C-segment SUV went on sale on the first weekend of the month, and collected almost 1,500 orders, the best-ever three-day order-take in Kia UK’s history.

The model has momentum. “The previous version enjoyed its best-ever year in 2015 – its run-out year – and from this initial surge of interest I am confident the all-new Sportage is going to get off to a flying start and hopefully put last year’s sales performance in the shade,” said Paul Philpott, president and CEO of Kia UK.

The fourth-gen Sportage made its debut in Kia’s domestic market of South Korea last September, before making its motor show debut at IAA Frankfurt in the same month. It retains the previous gen’s profile, window shape and wheel arches, but sports fresh front and rear design, along with a new dashboard that’s a more driver-oriented take on the theme in the Carens MPV and Sorento SUV. The design was led by Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, and Euro-spec cars are manufactured in Slovakia.

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The Euro NCAP five-star Sportage is slightly larger than before – overall length is up 40 mm to make 4,480 mm, and the 2,670 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer. Width (1,855 mm) and height (1,635 mm) are unchanged. The new car is more aerodynamic, with drag reduced from 0.35 to 0.33 Cd, a result of the re-profiled undercover and newly-designed bumper. Boot space is up from 465 to 503 litres.

The C-segment SUV is available with a choice of 16-, 17- or 19-inch alloys, while the GT Line spec comes with a unique 19-inch wheel option as standard. GT Line models also get “ice cube” LED fog lamps and aluminium-effect skid plates.

Kia says that the new Sportage’s cabin boasts a high standard of material quality, with a greater proportion of soft-touch materials and the use of cloth, leather and stitching to create a more upscale ambience. Soundproofing has also been improved. Two-tone colour schemes are available, besides all-black. GT Line adds on a D-shaped leather steering wheel, piano black trim and aluminium pedals.

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In Europe, the engine range includes a carry-over 1.6 GDI petrol with 132 PS/160 Nm (now with start-stop), a carry-over 115 PS ‘U2’ 1.7 CRDi diesel and an upgraded 2.0 litre ‘R’ turbodiesel, which is available in two outputs – 136 PS/373 Nm and 185 PS/400 Nm. Both benefit from a five kg lighter engine block, new battery management system, a continuously variable displacement oil pump and a new oil filter module.

A new 1.6 litre T-GDI petrol is also available for the first time on the Sportage, exclusively for the GT Line. The turbocharged Gamma makes 177 PS and peak 265 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. The T-GDI features a new single-scroll turbo with electronic wastegate actuator for quicker engine response and better economy under acceleration. All are Euro 6 compliant.

The Sportage can be had with six-speed manual and torque converter automatic transmissions (1.6 GDI and 1.7 CRDi manual only), but the T-GDI’s auto option is a seven-speed double-clutch transmission. Kia says that the in-house developed DCT shifts faster than the traditional auto and has lower running costs. Similar CO2 emissions with the manual transmission T-GDI, too.

AWD is standard on the T-GDi and 2.0 CRDi. It delivers 100% of torque to the front wheels by default, but can go up to 60:40 front-rear depending on conditions. A manually-selected lock mode gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 40 km/h.

In the UK, there are six trim lines including GT Line and First Edition, which throws in everything available for the model. Prices range from £17,995 (RM108,620) to £27,160 (RM163,940).

Like what you see? Will the new Kia Sportage arrive in Malaysia this year to do battle with the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and sister Hyundai Tucson? Full gallery after the jump.

GALLERY: Kia Sportage 1.6 GDi GT-Line

GALLERY: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi

GALLERY: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi