There’s healthy competition in the compact SUV crossover class, so cars at the front of the pack only 18 months ago have to raise their game to keep up with newer arrivals.

One such model is the Kia Sportage. When it was introduced in 2010, it caused quite a stir thanks to its cutting-edge styling, practical interior and decent amount of standard kit. Yet Kia has now decided the Sportage needs an update, and has introduced a subtly revised version.

But is it enough to keep Kia in class contention? To find out, we’ve lined up the new model against the new Nissan Qashqai, which was launched at the start of the year and has already beaten the pre-facelifted predecessor (Issue 1,301). We try both cars in efficient front-wheel-drive guise.

So can the Sportage hold its own against the newer Qashqai?

Click the links below for the full verdict on each car...

• Kia Sportage review

• Nissan Qashqai review

Now read our head-to-head group test results below...

Head-to-head

Panoramic roof

The Acenta Premium-spec Nissan Qashqai and above get a fixed glass roof that stretches uninterrupted from the top of the windscreen to just above the C-pillars. It gives the interior a bright, airy feel, while a powered blind keeps the cabin cool when the car is parked in sunlight. However, the Kia Sportage goes one better: the front section of its roof slides back, creating a big opening above the driver and passenger.

Hi-tech lights

BOTH cars have LED lighting tech, but the Nissan’s set-up is more sophisticated. It uses the energy-saving bulbs for the headlamps and daytime running lights (DRLs). The Sportage has distinctive LEDs in the indicator side repeaters and DRLs, but uses xenons for the dipped and main beam.

Emissions

The Kia Sportage features an efficiency-boosting ecoDynamics kit which includes stop-start, and helps to peg the Sportage’s CO2 output at 143g/km – or 135g/km with 17-inch alloys. That’s still much higher than the Qashqai, which emits a supermini-rivalling 99g/km.

Verdict

1st place: Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai maintains its advantage over the revised Kia Sportage. It’s more refined and comfortable than its rival, while low emissions and better fuel economy mean more affordable running costs. Add decent equipment and a versatile interior, and it’s the smart choice here.

2nd place: Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a decent crossover – it looks good and the updates have definitely improved the cabin. But the rest of the revisions aren’t enough to put it back to the front of the class, and Kia needs to do more work on emissions to make it competitive.

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta PremiumKia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 Nav

On the road price/total as tested£23,180/£25,855£23,900/£24,395

Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£10,906/47.1%£13,279/55.6%

Depreciation£12,274£10,621

Annual tax liability std/higher rate£694/£1,388£1,138/£2,275

Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,744/£2,907£1,904/£3,174

Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost14/£302/A/£013/£283/F/£145

Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£159/£249/£159£329 (3yrs)

Length/wheelbase4,377/2,646mm4,440/2,640mm

Height/width1,590/1,806mm1,645/1,855mm

Engine4cyl in-line/1,461cc4cyl in-line/1,685cc

Peak power/revs 109/4,000 bhp/rpm114/4,000 bhp/rpm

Peak torque/revs 260/1,750 Nm/rpm260/1,250 Nm/rpm

Transmission 6-spd man/FWD6-spd man/FWD

 55 litres/repair kit55 litres/full alloy

Boot capacity430/1,585 litres564/1,353 litres

Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,365/545/1,350kg1,490/450/1,200kg

Turning circle/drag coefficient10.7 metres/N/A10.6 metres/0.37Cd

Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs7yrs (100,000)/1yr

Service intervals/UK dealers18k miles (1yr)/22520k miles (1yr)/170

Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.22nd/11th*7th/10th*

Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars88/83/69/593/86/49/5

0-60/30-70mph11.0/11.4 secs11.9/12.4 secs

30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.7/7.4 secs4.7/6.1 secs

50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th10.1/12.7 secs9.4/12.4 secs

Top speed/rpm at 70mph 113mph/2,000rpm107mph/2,250rpm

Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.8/33.2/9.6m49.6/34.8/10.1m

Noise outside/idle/30/70mph64/48/61/71dB64/47/61/68dB

Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range42.6/9.4/515 miles39.0/8.6/472 miles

Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 67.3/78.5/74.3mpg44.8/56.5/52.3mpg

Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 14.8/17.3/16.3mpl9.9/12.4/11.5mpl

Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket178/99g/km/15%194/143g/km/24%

Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/yes/yes

Adapt dampers/air susp/hill descent Yes/no/noYes/yes/yes

Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes

Met paint/xenon lights/cruise control£525/no/yes£510/yes/yes

Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£250/yes

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