The death of diesel has been subject to more speculative column inches than the guest list for the forthcoming royal wedding. Now, Kia has added further intrigue with the announcement of a new diesel hybrid model, set to go on sale later this year.
As part of a strategy to launch 16 ‘advanced powertrain’ cars by 2025, a mild-hybrid version of the popular Sportage SUV ticks one off the list for Kia. It plans to release five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids and five battery-powered electric vehicles, plus an electric fuel-cell car, Kia has certainly got some work to do…
The goal is to improve fuel-efficiency across the entire Kia range, and the new EcoDynamics+ drivetrain fitted to the diesel Sportage is said to help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 4% on the new WLTP testing process. On the older NEDC testing regime, the EcoDynamics+ Sportage shows a 7% improvement. The hybrid system is integrated with Kia’s existing active emissions technology.
The Sportage EcoDynamics+ uses a small 0.46kWh battery pack, paired with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG), which can switch between acting as a motor or generator. In ‘motor’ mode the MHSG can add up to 10kW of power to the drivetrain, helping with acceleration and reducing the overall power needed from the engine. This is where Kia claims the EcoDynamics+ system helps on emissions and fuel economy.
With ‘generator’ mode engaged when coasting downhill or towards a junction, the MHSG harvests power to charge the battery. A new ‘moving Stop & Start’ function also allows the diesel engine to turn itself off when not under load, but restart immediately when the accelerator pedal is pressed.
Choosing to build a diesel hybrid is a bold decision by Kia, not least due to the anti-diesel rhetoric that has swept across key market areas. Diesel hybrids have often been dismissed in favour of petrol versions by manufacturers, in part due to the fact that diesel engines are typically more efficient to begin with, leaving less room for improvement.
Kia is choosing to hybridise the Sportgage’s diesel engine in the mildest of ways, and also has a petrol-powered Sportage hybrid planned for the near future. In essence this is simply Kia covering all bases, but a reminder that diesel power still has a part to play for many drivers.
- The UK’s most popular plug-in hybrid and electric cars in 2018
- 2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid review: demolishing the case for diesel
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV remains Britain’s favourite plug-in