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The Kia Sportage lived a fairly quiet life to begin with as a car known to few outside of Asian markets.

But ever since it became one of Kia’s first European-built models in its second-generation form, and then led its company’s transformation into a design-centric brand in its third, the Sportage has taken on special status for the company that makes it.

Peter Schreyer’s distinctive ‘tiger nose’ third-generation design drove the car to a level of UK- and European-market popularity unknown to Kia in the early 2010s, which the subsequent fourth-generation version built on.

And now, with the Sportage’s status as Kia’s best-selling model in the UK, Europe and the wider world assured, comes a fifth-generation version that looks ready to mix things up all over again.

Rather than protecting and subtly evolving the looks of its golden goose, Kia is innovating: using the most powerful sales platform it has to disseminate a new corporate design language that will roll out across its model lines and showing a strategic boldness that only commercial success can grant permission for.

This new design language, entitled ‘Opposites United’, will evidently trade the neat appealing features and lines of Kia’s old philosophy for something even more impactful – but will it be as successful in driving sales?

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