For readers who sometimes wish there were more diesel-powered manual-transmission cars, we have good news: The 2017 Kia Sportage will offer this combination. The bad news? We’re talking about a European-spec crossover at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the new Sportage debuted in GT form and other trims.
The Sportage new comprises about a quarter of Kia sales in Europe, and is expected to maintain its important role. In the U.S., the Sportage is actually outselling the outgoing Tucson through the first eight months of 2015, and we’re guessing the Sportage’s revised front styling and new active safety tech will help it maintain ground in the hot segment.
At the press conference in Frankfurt, Kia said “we don’t do trendy” in reference to the Sportage’s design. Will the 2017 Sportage’s design look as good in 10 years as it does now? We’re not sure, but we’re still fans of the crossover’s profile, which hasn’t changed much compared to the outgoing crossover. What has been updated is the front styling, with a look-at-me grille that isn’t pretty, but definitely unique. LED taillights look sleek, and are vaguely reminiscent of the taillight design for the Motor Trend long-term 2015 Kia K900.
And although we spotted a diesel-powered manual-transmission model on the show floor, the new GT Line trim would definitely be of greater interest to most American buyers. Finished in bright red at the auto show stand, the 2017 Sportage GT Line we saw in person maximized the Sportage’s appeal through flashy wheels, dual exhaust outlets, silver front and rear bumper trim, and “ice cube” fog lights. The interior appears improved, with a conventional design. The European model offers a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen display, and the center console is shifted 10 degrees toward the driver, a nice touch.
The new Sportage, like the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan also debuting in Frankfurt, is one of many compact/midsize crossover players trying to take a bigger bite out of the class leaders in terms of sales, headed by the 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year, the Honda CR-V.
What do you think of the European-spec Kia Sportage GT Line?