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We’ve seen it undisguised, and read about its new diesel mild-hybrid powertrain – now the Kia Sportage facelift is officially unveiled, slightly less than three years after the fourth-gen QL made its debut. The refreshed SUV also gets a lightly altered appearance plus new safety and infotainment tech.

There are front and rear bumpers, as well as redesigned front and rear lamps. The ‘eyes’ have four-point LED daytime running lights, similar to the new Cerato and Ceed. The GT-Line, seen here, comes with a gloss black hot-stamped radiator grille, a gloss black and silver skid plate, and dark chrome inserts on the side sills and rear tailgate.

The GT-Line’s unique 19-inch alloys have been redesigned (new 16- and 17-inch wheels for the other trim levels), and all models are fitted with a dual-exhaust rear valance (look closely and you’ll see the real tailpipe jutting out below the bumper) plus revised ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamps.

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Just minor refinements inside, including a new steering wheel and revised instrument cluster, as well as new black-and-grey two-tone upholstery. GT-Line models are available with new black-and-grey two-tone leather seats, or optional black leather with red accents.

The big news under the hood is Kia’s new EcoDynamics+ 48V diesel mild-hybrid powertrain, the start of a big electrification push that will see the Korean carmaker launch 16 ‘advanced powertrain’ vehicles by 2025, including five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five EVs and, in 2020, a fuel-cell electric vehicle.

The EcoDynamics+ diesel mild-hybrid system combines a 2.0-litre ‘R’ diesel engine, 48-volt battery and a mild-hybrid starter-generator unit. Kia says that the added bits supplements acceleration and extends engine ‘off time’, resulting in 4% lower C02 emissions in the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).

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Elsewhere, the 1.7 litre CRDi oil burner has been replaced with the new 1.6 litre ‘U3’ CRDi, which Kia says is the cleanest diesel engine it has ever made. It produces 115 or 136 PS, with higher-powered models available with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. All powertrains comply with the latest Euro 6d TEMP emissions standards.

The facelifted Sportage gets all of Kia’s latest driving assistance systems, including Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, around view monitor and Driver Attention Warning. European customers have a choice of a 7.0-inch touchscreen or a new ‘frameless’ 8.0-inch unit.

The Sportage facelift will go on sale in Europe in Q3 2018. The continent is a big market for the C-segment SUV – Kia sold more than 131,000 examples of it last year, which is a quarter of the brand’s total European sales.


GALLERY: Pre-facelift Kia Sportage 2.0L AWD GT CRDi