Kia Sportage Anniversary Edition PHEV (2023) review
Kia is celebrating the Sportage's 30th anniversary with a special specification.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue
Pics by Paddy McGrath

Published on January 31, 2024

Kia Sportage overview

There have been five generations of Kia Sportage spanning 30 years of production, and in that time the model has followed Kia's transformation from a maker of budget models to one that builds popular, tech-packed and stylish machines.

The current model is one of Ireland's best sellers, and we've already reviewed it in hybrid and plug-in guises. Now Kia has introduced the Anniversary Edition, a special version designed to celebrate the car's 30th anniversary of sales on these shores.

It's available in hybrid and plug-in guises and adds some exclusive equipment such as gloss black alloy wheels, extra gloss black exterior trim, Wolf Grey metallic paint and upholstery finished in suede and synthetic leather.

The Sportage is one of the top picks in the hotly-contested compact family SUV sector. As mentioned, the Sportage is a big seller in Ireland, and in 2023 it came second in the sales charts behind its main rival, the Hyundai Tucson. Both cars are very closely related, featuring the same powertrains and similar cabin tech, albeit with their own respective design touches.

Elsewhere, rivals include the Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga, Citroen C5 Aircross and Peugeot 3008, which are available with hybrid or PHEV power, while the Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Corolla Cross, Renault Austral and Honda CR-V feature hybrid drive, but no plug-in option. The Mazda CX-5 is a sportier choice that features the firm's innovative Skyactiv-X petrol engine designed to offer petrol power and diesel efficiency.

Even more conventional than that are the Volkswagen Group options of the Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca - although they're beginning to show their age with only basic petrol and diesel engine options - while Volkswagen itself is launching the third generation Tiguan this year.

If you don't need as much space as the Sportage offers, then the smaller Kia Niro is available for a bit less outlay. Or you could spend a similar amount on a Niro EV and slash your daily running costs if you're ready to go fully electric.

The Kia Sportage model range

The Kia Sportage range starts from €37,000 in Ireland for K2 trim with a 1.6 CRDi diesel engine. Above that sits the K3 that costs €4,700 more, while the most expensive diesel is the GT-line SR, which is €10,000 more than K2 spec.

If you don't want a diesel, then the hybrid (HEV) or plug-in (PHEV) models are currently only available in Anniversary Edition trim. These cost €45,995 and €48,995 respectively, while the PHEV is the only version of the Sportage that has four-wheel drive.

Even the base K2 model offers a generous amount of equipment. There are 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, electrically folding and heated door mirrors, LED headlights, two-zone climate control, an electric parking brake and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with voice control, Bluetooth, and smartphone connectivity (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Safety kit includes front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, forward collision alert with city braking, lane assist and auto lights and wipers.

Moving to K3 trim, there are 18-inch alloys, privacy glass and full LED taillights, while the interior gains leather upholstery plus a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats with electric adjustment. The tech is boosted with a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, extra USB charging sockets in the back and Kia's multi-touch display, which adds a touch-sensitive panel that switches between climate and media controls.

The GT-line SR car features 19-inch alloys and a sportier exterior look, while extra equipment includes a panoramic opening roof, suede and synthetic leather upholstery, a leather wrapped steering wheel, a powered tailgate and wireless smartphone charging.

For the Anniversary Edition, the exterior trim is in gloss black, and there are 18-inch black alloys for the hybrid, 19-inch rims for the PHEV. Also included is a 12.3-inch driver's display to match the central screen, heated rear seats, LED ambient lighting, keyless entry and starting, navigation-based adaptive cruise control and highway driving assist.

The Kia Sportage interior

The previous two generations of Kia Sportage established it as a practical and user-friendly family SUV, but Kia really ramped up the tech with the current car. The top-spec models feature the same 12.3-inch driver's display and infotainment touchscreen as found in its Kia EV6 and EV9 electric cars. Thanks to the side-by-side layout - and the fact the steering wheel hides the join between them - it looks like a single, gently curving display from the driver's seat.

While some makers have moved the climate controls to a touchscreen system, Kia has added a novel control panel that's separate from the main screen. Kia calls it the Multi-touch display, and it comprises of a black panel below the central air vents that has switchable modes.

There are two rotary knobs at either end, with a series of touch-sensitive functions in between, while one button switches their function between the climate controls and the multimedia system. In climate mode, the knobs control the two-zone climate control temperature, while in the multimedia setting one adjusts the volume and the other changes radio stations or track, depending on what you're listening to.

The touchscreen system itself is easy to use, although it's still more distracting than buttons. The displays themselves have crisp graphics, while the default white on black text with purple highlights is easy on the eye.

The Anniversary Edition features part suede and part synthetic leather upholstery which adds a sporty touch, while the ambient lighting looks smart at night.

Interior space is good up front, and the dashboard layout is easy to get along with. One quirk of the system is that while the drive selector and buttons that set the hill descent control and drive modes are on the centre console, the electric parking brake is set to the right of the steering wheel.

Space in the back is good, too, and there are wide-opening doors to ease access. There's room for three across the back with good legroom, or you can fit two child seats on the outer chairs and their ISOFIX points. Convenient touches in the back include two USB sockets, which are set into the sides of the front seat backs, while the rears of the front headrests are L shaped so it's possible to hook bags or jackets over them. The outer rear seats of the Anniversary model are heated, too.

Further back, the PHEV's large battery compromises boot space a little. There's 540 litres of space in five-seat mode and 1,715 litres with the back seats folded, which is easily done via the levers set into the side of the boot. In comparison, the HEV has 587 litres of space as a five-seater and 1,776 litres in two-seat mode, although neither version is stingy for cargo carrying ability.

The Kia Sportage PHEV driving experience

Power for the Sportage PHEV comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine combined with an electric motor and a 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery. Working to its maximum there's 265hp and 350Nm of torque on offer, while the PHEV is the only version of the Sportage that has four-wheel drive.

A number of drive modes are on offer in the Sportage, split between Drive and Terrain settings. In Drive you can choose between Normal, Sport and Smart, and as well as the dials changing appearance, the car's responses also change, with the Smart mode designed to boost your economy. There are off-road modes for Snow, Mud or Sand, where the car's settings are changed for different surfaces, while hill descent control also features. Finally, there's a button on the centre console that can switch between full EV mode (if there's enough battery charge) or hybrid settings.

Our verdict on the Kia Sportage Anniversary Edition

It's easy to understand why the Kia Sportage is so popular in Ireland as it's a great all-rounder. The plug-in hybrid is the pick of the line-up, thanks to its ample performance, all-wheel drive and ability to cover most people's commutes on electric power alone. As ever with PHEVs, it only makes sense if you can regularly plug it in at an inexpensive source of electricity (i.e. at home or at work), though fans of the Sportage will find plenty of alternatives in the line-up if they're not ready to plug a car in just yet. Aside from that, the additions that make up the Anniversary Edition lift the car above the rest of the range in terms of visual appeal, so we're sure Kia Ireland won't have any difficulty finding homes for each and every one it imports.


Tech Specs

Model testedKia Sportage Anniversary Edition 1.6 petrol PHEV
Irish pricingSportage starts at €37,000; as tested €48,995
Powertrainplug-in hybrid - turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 67kW electric motor and 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmissionautomatic - six-speed gearbox, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover
CO2 emissions25g/km
Irish motor tax€140 per annum
Fuel consumption1.1 litres/100km (257mpg)
Official electric range70km
Top speed191km/h
0-100km/h8.2 seconds
Max power265hp
Max torque350Nm
Boot space540 litres with all seats in use, 1,715 litres with rear seats folded
Max towing750kg unbraked, 1,350kg braked
Rivals to the Sportage Anniversary Edition PHEV (2023)