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Kia Sportage v Nissan Qashqai

By Maxine Ashford | July 18, 2023


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When it comes to the battle of the family SUVs, two models immediately spring to mind – the Kia Sportage and the Nissan Qashqai.

Kia Sportage v Nissan Qashqai

When it comes to the battle of the family SUVs, two models immediately spring to mind – the Kia Sportage and the Nissan Qashqai. And quite rightly so as these five-door models are the real big hitters in the sector.

The first Sportage graced our roads back in 1995 and, last year, Kia launched the fifth generation model which was designed and developed especially for European roads, which was a first for the vehicle.

It is the company’s best-selling car in the UK, Europe and globally and is available with a choice of petrol, mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology.

There are four model grades called 2, GT-Line, 3 and GT-Line S. In addition, customers can choose between two- or four-wheel drive, so there is a wide selection to suit all needs and budgets.

As for the Nissan Qashqai, the sales success speaks for itself with it officially claiming the crown as the UK’s best-selling new car of 2022.

Once again, customers have a comprehensive choice when it comes to trim levels with Qashqai offered in Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+ along with a Kuro Edition that was launched in June.

The Qashqai is now in its third generation and the introduction of e-POWER to the mix is certainly raising the car’s profile even further.

We compared these two models in an attempt to split them, but it’s no easy task and may come down to badge preference at the end of the day.

Price and Performance

The 2023 Kia Sportage line-up costs from £28,360 for the entry-level Sportage 2 powered by a 1.6 T-GDi 148bhp petrol engine with six-speed manual gearbox and two wheel drive. The range-topper, costing £46,400, is the Sportage Plug-in Hybrid version in two-tone GT-Line S guise, powered by a 1.6 T-GDi 13.8kWh 261bhp unit with a six-speed auto gearbox and all-wheel drive.

We tested the Kia Sportage 3 driven by a 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission and with front wheel-drive. It cost £32,560 and with 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, could complete the 0-60mph sprint in 9.9 seconds, topping out at 113mph.

Those figures may not sound that inspiring, but it’s the way the Sportage handles that really impresses. It is so comfortable to drive with supportive seats and excellent suspension to smooth out the bumps. I covered more than 500 miles in the week-long test and never tired of being behind the wheel.

It's unusual these days to get a manual test car so that was a plus-point too. So many models feature automatic gearboxes that can be a little lacklustre, so having full control of the gear switching made overtaking at short notice a doddle.

The Sportage is a very capable motorway cruiser, but is also well balanced when faced with twisting country lanes too. Then in busier town centres with cars, pedestrians and cyclists seemingly appearing from nowhere, the elevated driving position and excellent all-round visibility are a true blessing.

Drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport alter the responses of the car and there is a wealth of high-end technology and creature comforts to explore. The seats and steering wheel can be heated and both the front seats are powered for added convenience.

The 12.3-inch infotainment navigation screen merges seamlessly with the 12.3-inch driver display and looks really upmarket. The graphics are sharp and it is easy to operate on the fly. Special mention to the separate controls for all the air con settings which avoids driver distraction.

The Nissan Qashqai costs from £26,770 for the entry-level Visia model powered by a DIG-T 140 mild hybrid unit with manual gearbox and two-wheel drive. At the other end of the scale is the Tekna+ version priced at £41,700 with e-POWER technology, automatic gearbox and two-wheel drive.

We opted for the Qashqai e-POWER Tekna with automatic transmission, two-wheel drive and 190PS and 330Nm of torque. Costing £38,885 (including £745 for specialist paintwork), it could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and maxed out at 105mph.

Manufacturers are often introducing new technologies and some are good while others not so impressive. But we have to applaud Nissan for its unique e-POWER system. It uses a petrol engine and lithium ion battery to power an electric motor. And it’s the electric motor alone that drives wheels meaning the Qashqai responds similarly to an EV with instant torque. That is why it is much faster out the starting blocks than the Kia.

It also means there is a reduction in tailpipe emissions so running costs are superior to those of a combustion engine but without the need to plug it in. It uses regenerative braking to recoup otherwise lost energy along the way too.

It sounds complicated, but the result is a car that drives beautifully in all settings. It effortlessly eats up the motorway miles, is beautifully balanced on more testing B roads with nicely weighted steering. And, like the Sportage, the elevated drivers position results in great all-round driver visibility. This is a vital factor as both these cars could feature regularly on the school run.

Drive modes called Eco, Standard and Sport alter the driving characteristics and there is an EV mode and an E-Pedal setting to maximise efficiency.

The Qashqai is generously equipped with all the latest technology at your disposal. There is a 12.3-inch Nissan Connect Display and a separate 12.3-inch tft display behind the steering wheel offering all the vital driving data. Technology includes full smartphone connectivity, TomTom sat nav along with a powered driver’s seat with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Once again, the separate panel to access temperature controls is appreciated. There is nothing worse than having to navigate complicated touchscreen menus simply to turn up the temperature by a degree.

Both these cars are fabulous to drive and packed with tech. I think the Nissan is the cleverer of the two with its e-POWER technology but, at times, the engine got a little over-revved when pushed hard, while the Sportage was smooth no matter how heavy the throttle pressure.

One other factor on the Nissan that was annoying after several hours behind the wheel was the piano black trim around the infotainment screen. There was quite a lot of reflection bouncing back every time you went beneath a bridge or overhead gantry.


Both the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai are billed as compact SUVs with active families in mind. And with the incredible sales figures achieved by both models, they seem to tick all the necessary boxes when it comes to practicality.

The Sportage stretches 4,515mm in length, is 1,865mm wide and 1,645mm tall (1,650mm with roof rack). Up front, comfort levels are excellent with ample space for a couple of six-footers to stretch out.

In the back, two adults will be happy enough, provided the front seats are not pushed too far back, but this space would be ideal for three youngsters. There are Isofix fixtures to secure child seats to the outer rear seats and back seat passengers have their own charging points to keep devices connected. They are also treated to heated seats and there are seat back hooks which are convenient if you want to hang up a bag or jacket.

The boot, accessed via a manual tailgate, can accommodate 591 litres of luggage, increasing to 1,780 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.

By comparison, the Nissan Qashqai is 4,425mm long, 2,084mm wide (including mirrors) and 1,625mm tall. Similarly to the Sportage, comfort levels are impressive with bundles of room up front and a decent amount of leg, elbow and head room in the back. The Qashqai, as tested, also featured a panoramic sunroof which allowed light to flood into the cabin.

Once again, there are Isofix fittings and the wide-opening doors offer easy access too which is practical for anyone with mobility issues.

The boot featured a powered tailgate and could swallow 868 litres of kit, a limit that increases to 1,621 litres with the 60:40 split-folding seats dropped. 

Both vehicles have plenty of optional storage spaces throughout the cabins with bag hooks to stop shopping tipping over and boot hooks to tie down larger items securely.

Again, with the practicality bases covered, it’s difficult to separate these two models. The Sportage does offer a slightly larger boot which may be the deciding point for potential buyers, but the Qashqai had the powered tailgate which is really handy.


With all eyes on high energy prices and the recent surge in fuel costs, day-to-day running costs are an important factor when buying a car these days.

The Kia Sportage that we tested had a WLTP-tested combined fuel figure of 41.5mpg with carbon emissions of 154g/km.

By comparison, the Qashqai with its clever e-POWER technology, could deliver a combined 53.3mpg with carbon emissions of 120g/km.

It is worth noting though that the Sportage is available with Plug-in technology if you want to see vastly improved economy.

To be honest, there are so many powertrain choices for the Sportage and Qashqai, customers will easily be able to find a car to suit their needs. But what we can say is that the combined fuel figures on both models is exceptionally accurate. In fact, we were seeing above the official figure during lengthy drives in both vehicles.

So, which takes your fancy?

So, how do you choose between two brilliant cars? It’s a tricky decision to make and as I said earlier, it will probably come down to brand preference.

Both models are well built with excellent reputations for reliability. They are practical, easy to drive, packed with technology and come in a range of trim levels and with a wide choice of powertrains.

If towing is a priority, there are 4WD versions and if low emission city driving tops the priority list, there are models to cover those needs too, especially in the Sportage line-up with its plug-in hybrid models.

To sum up, there really is no bad decision when weighing things up between these two cars. Maybe take each one for a test drive and see which suits you best. But don’t think too hard as you will likely change your mind again and again.

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