Kia Sportage turns 30, over 7 million units sold globally

Kia marks three decades of its popular Sportage SUV with the launch of a new 30th Anniversary Special Edition in the Korean market.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 24 Jul 2023 Views icon3278 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Kia’s best-selling model globally since 2015 is celebrating three decades of production and sales with the launch of a 30th Anniversary Special Edition in the home market of Korea.

Launched in 1993, the Sportage has sold over seven million units, across five generations, worldwide. “The Kia Sportage was a groundbreaking product from day one,” said Tae-Hun (Ted) Lee, Senior Vice-President and Head of Global Operations Division. “Over the 30 years since it has remained true to its revolutionary origins, bringing cutting-edge safety, performance and design to drivers around the world.

“The 30th Anniversary Special Edition accentuates the unparalleled comfort and luxury now added to that already compelling combination, demonstrating the brand’s future as well as celebrating its history,” he added.


Generational evolution of the Kia Sportage

A pioneering compact SUV, the Sportage holds special significance as Kia's first unique model exported overseas. The first-generation Sportage stood out with its sleek design, spacious interior, and sedan-like driving experience, setting it apart from traditional off-road-focused SUVs.

Technologically advanced, it featured innovations such as a ‘body-on-frame’ design that enabled a more dynamic stance, electronically controlled on-the-fly 4WD switching, rear coil springs, and the world's first knee airbags. The first-generation Sportage made a significant impact in the US market, establishing Kia as a successful brand in North America.

From the second generation onwards, the Sportage adopted a modern monocoque platform, enhancing ride comfort and capitalizing on the growing SUV demand to achieve sales performance exceeding twice that of the first generation. The second generation prioritized quality and safety, ranking first in the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) in 2005.

The third generation, known as the Sportage R (Revolution), with new styling, saw the Sportage surpass two million units in sales. The Tiger Nose grille design earned widespread acclaim and prestigious accolades like the iF Design, Good Design, and Red Dot awards. It also achieved impressive safety ratings, including a five-star Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) rating in 2010 and being designated as a Top Safety Pick (TSP) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the US in 2011.

The fourth generation focused on safety enhancements and convenience features, addressing the rigorous small overlap front crash tests conducted by the IIHS and incorporating advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It expanded its customer base in the compact SUV segment by adopting downsized engines. Since its introduction in 2015, the Sportage has remained Kia's best-selling car for eight consecutive years.

The fifth generation, introduced in 2021, further prioritised safety with a multi-structure body and increased mid-size SUV proportions. Its striking appearance, inspired by Kia's 'Opposites United' design philosophy, along with diverse powertrain options (e.g. LPG, hybrid, PHEV, diesel, and gasoline turbo) earned it widespread recognition and numerous automotive awards on the global stage.

2024 Sportage 30th Anniversary Edition

To mark three decades of outstanding success, Kia has equipped a new special edition of the 2024 Sportage with an enhanced specification, focusing on convenience and safety while further elevating the model’s considerable luxury and design appeal.  

Key among these enhancements is the introduction of acoustic laminated glass in the first and second rows, significantly improving interior quietness. Additionally, Kia has reinforced safety features to align with the SUV's renowned reputation as a family vehicle. This includes the incorporation of eight airbags, including first-in-class rear seat left and right-side airbags.

The cabin of the 30th Anniversary Edition showcases a host of appealing enhancements. Customers can select from exclusive colour packs, available in two captivating options: green and black, while the seats feature a new meticulously crafted suede and graphic perforated pattern that provides a refreshing, high-quality feeling. The driver's and passenger's headrests are enriched with the 30th anniversary logo, adding a unique touch.

Outside, meanwhile, the gloss black application has been further extended to more areas in the exterior for a bold and modern aesthetic.

Beginning with the Korean market, the Sportage 30th Anniversary Special Edition will be gradually released in select markets.

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