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Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid: what is it, and will it come to Australia?


The new Kia Sportage is available with two hybrid engines overseas, including a plug-in hybrid mimicking its bigger Sorento SUV sibling

Australia is eagerly waiting to see whether or not a plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Sportage SUV will find its way to Australia. Kia already sells the Niro plug-in hybrid in Australia and the Sorento PHEV overseas, so where is the Sportage version?

We have detailed here what Australians get compared to the rest of the world when it comes to the Sportage range, but what is of most interest is the plug-in hybrid model and whether Australia will get this variant in time.

Sportage plug-in hybrid: power, range and battery powertrain explainer

Kia Sportage 2022 on beach
The Kia Sportage hybrid has a small but useful 13.8kWh battery pack

The plug-in hybrid drivetrain in the new Sportage consists of a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that also features a 66.9kW permanent magnet traction electric motor and a useable 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack

Total system power is 194kW/350Nm with 132kW of the power coming from the internal combustion engine.

The Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid can travel in ‘electric-only mode’ for a total of 78km (WLTP) for an emissions-free commute. 

Kia Sportage S Manual 2022 social
Australia has not yet received a Sportage plug-in hybrid

Kia says that the battery has a high tech management system which constantly monitors the state of the battery, including voltage, current, isolation and fault diagnosis. The unit also measures and monitors cell voltage and temperature. 

The new Sportage is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which sends power to all four wheels. A six-speed manual transmission is available but only on the mild-hybrid variant in the range. 

Will the Sportage plug-in hybrid be released in Australia?

A senior Kia Australia executive told Chasing Cars that the brand was struggling to make a clear business case for bringing the plug-in Sportage to Australia due to pricing concerns.

Roland Rivero, Kia’s general manager of product planning, told Chasing Cars that the car would have to be able to stack up against the Toyota RAV4 hybrid.

“Is [Sportage hybrid] going to be a marketable vehicle that we can get the price point to where we want it to be compared to say, a RAV4 Hybrid? Until those numbers work out, we can’t give you anything firm. ” he said.

Significant development costs would need to happen in order to get the Sportage PHEV to Australia, including the production of a right-hand drive variant, adding additional infrastructure to the current Gwangju plant and then making the car compliant for the Australian market. 

There is a higher chance of the standard Sportage hybrid, which does not need to be plugged in, coming to Australia – but the brand is also embroiled in long-running negotiations about retooling the production line to bring that vehicle to Australia.

The interior of the Australian sold Kia Sportage GT-Line

The Sportage series-parallel hybrid is also sold overseas. Like the popular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, this version of the Sportage would offer reduced fuel consumption from short bursts of electric running, whereas a plug-in hybrid is designed to be driven in electric mode for extended stints.

Kia Australia has said that the long wheelbase version of the Sportage, which we do not receive in Australia, wasn’t developed for RHD and that a specific request would have to be made to reengineer the car for the Australia marketplace. 

It could therefore be quite some time before the Kia Sportage PHEV is available in Australia, making cars such as the popular Toyota RAV4 hybrid an easy alternative choice for buyers. 

Kia Sportage 2022: prices in Australia

All prices listed are driveaway

  • Sportage S FWD manual: $32,445
  • Sportage S FWD auto: $34,445
  • Sportage SX FWD manual: $35,000
  • Sportage SX FWD auto: $37,000
  • Sportage S AWD auto: $39,845
  • Sportage SX+ FWD auto: $41,500
  • Sportage SX FWD auto: $42,400
  • Sportage SX+ AWD dual clutch: $43,500
  • Sportage SX+ AWD 8spd auto: $46,900
  • Sportage GT-Line AWD dual clutch: $49,370
  • Sportage GT-Line AWD 8spd auto: $52,370