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Drive

We Review the All-New Kia Sorento

This latest Sorento benefits from the next big stage of the Kia transformation programme
This new top of the range Kia Sorento can ultimately cost you up to forty grand; take it as a sign that KIA Motors Limited are raising their game

We British are interesting folk. The stats show that the typical British car buyer is unlikely to buy a car just because it’s British.


 

We tend to go for best value. That said, it’s pretty hard to find a ‘British’ car these days anyway. Some people blamed the demise of the last big British car manufacturer, British Leyland, on our lack of patriotism through purchasing solidarity. Yes, but most BL products at the time were rubbish, and we all work very hard for our pennies. Bottom line we British want good value for money, as much as we can get for as little as we can pay.

Raising the game

Maybe that’s why we are seeing more Japanese and Korean brands on our roads – you pay less for more. Admittedly, in the past that ‘more’ was mostly gadgetry. The equation still stands to this day, but the ‘more’ is extending to new technology and engineering, as they steer away from being value driven brands and seek to penetrate the more profitable premium markets.

As a consequence, this new top of the range Kia Sorento can ultimately cost you up to forty grand; take it as a sign that KIA Motors Limited are raising their game.

Kia’s UK Commercial Director, the very amiable Yasser Shabsogh, assures me that this ultimate high spec option is directly a response to demand. “We simply wouldn’t be offering the car with this level of optional equipment if the demand was not there” he tells me. 

Yet the fact that some of us will pay up to forty thousand pounds for the Kia brand suggests that we may gradually be saying goodbye to brand snobbery. The evidence shows that we tend to go for higher spec SUVs anyway, but more to the point is that Kia are on a mission to become a desirable and a premium brand.

Let’s face it, about ten years ago Kia were hardly ‘desirable’ cars, and unlikely to appeal to style conscious Western Europeans. Kia’s wake-up call was the employment of Chief stylist Peter Shueyer who turned Kia styling into the sharp eye catching designs we see today. The Kia Pro Ceed GT, for example, is a very cool looking car – one that’ll raise the eyebrows of your first date, rather than blow the whole thing.

Thankfully, as a result, the new Sorento has that premium look and feel, suitable to the subtleties of our rather conservative family 4 x 4 tastes. This latest Sorento benefits from the next big stage of the Kia transformation programme, namely ‘Phase II’ of a strategic brand development programme designed to ‘exceed our expectations’ and raise the game in engineering, technology, and refinement and quality.   

Better all round

And does it? ‘fraid so. It has reduced emissions, better fuel economy, and more power. It’s also longer, lower, wider, roomier and more practical and versatile than its predecessor. Seven seats, a Euro 6 regulation compliant diesel engine, and all-wheel drive are standard.

The new Sorento ‘feels’ higher quality too – cabin fit and finish are to a high standard, and efforts have been made to ensure that even the switchgear has a precision quality feel. It’s packed with new technology too;  Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, Around View Monitoring, Adaptive Front Lighting and Speed Limit Information to name but a few. 

In the UK, the new Sorento range comprises six models at launch. All are powered by the upgraded R-family 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine, with either a six-speed manual or a Kia first; a six-speed automatic gearbox. All have permanent, intelligent all-wheel drive through the Dynamax system first seen on Kia’s compact SUV, the Sportage. The incremental trim levels are KX-1, KX-2, KX-3 and KX-4. Interestingly, Kia predicts that 28% of sales will be the higher spec models as customers mostly want fully spec’d vehicles. Prices are up by 5%, not bad, as the improvements outweigh the price hike, and as we say, Kia are clearly committed to drawing away from being seen as a solely value driven brand.

Much of this is evident once behind the wheel. The Sorento would easily pass the ‘wear a blind fold and guess this brand’ consumer test, to be genuinely mistaken for one of the premium brands on ride, quality, and feel. Looking at like-for-like premium brand comparisons, you’d be saving yourself around twenty grand on a spec-for-spec comparison with the established top-of-the-rangers.

And that’s maybe when you choose to kiss goodbye to brand snobbery – just think what you could do with that twenty grand? School fees? Holidays? An extension to your home?  Unless subtleties and performance detail really really matter to you (and they do for some) the Sorento satisfies most ride handling, and refinement tick boxes in this sector. Surprising that…but I did warn you.

And here’s the final icing on the cake – there’s a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, which is fully transferable if the car is sold before the time or mileage limit is reached. Tempting isn’t it?

 

- Kevin Haggarthy

Tech spec

No. of cylinders/valves: 4/16. Displacement (cc): 2,199. Power output (bhp): 197 @ 3,800 rpm. Torque output Nm (lb/ft): 441 (325) @ 1,750–2,750 rpm. Emissions: Euro 6. Transmission: 6 speed manual or 6 speed auto.    

Performance and fuel consumption

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 9.0 seconds (man) 9.6 seconds (auto). Maximum speed: 124mph (man) 124mph (auto). Fuel economy urb/ex.urb/com 17” wheels: 40.3/57.6/49.5 mpg (man) 35.3/49.5/43.4 (auto). Fuel economy urb/ex.urb/com 18” and 19” wheels: 37.2/53.3/46.3mpg (man) 36.3/46.3/42.2 (auto). C02 17” wheels: 149g/km. C02 18” and 19” wheels: 161 g/km (man) 177 g/km (auto).

 

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