NEW SORENTO DRESSED TO IM­PRESS

Third gen­er­a­tion of Kia’s SUV boasts up­mar­ket looks and a big­ger range of driv­ing re­fine­ments

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE ANDY EN­RIGHT

KIA SORENTO

KIA doesn’t ad­here to nor­mal con­ven­tions. The South Korean firm wants to get places fast, so cars are launched and re­placed in half the time of many ri­vals. The Sorento first ap­peared in 2002 and lasted seven years.

The sec­ond gen­er­a­tion was in­tro­duced in 2010, face-lifted in 2012 and re­placed in 2015 with this third gen­er­a­tion car.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

The UK range hinges around a 197bhp 2.2-litre tur­bod­iesel en­gine with a peak torque of 441Nm. Sixty is 9.0s away from rest en route to 124mph.

Re­fine­ments in­clude a stiffer body shell, ad­di­tional sound­proof­ing, acous­tic shields built into the en­gine bay, and a thicker dash­board.

Depend­ing on speed, am­bi­ent cabin noise is claimed to be be­tween three and six per cent qui­eter than the pre­vi­ous car.

An elec­tric as­sis­tance mo­tor on the steer­ing rack rather than the steer­ing col­umn as in the old Sorento, im­proves steer­ing ac­cu­racy and feed­back.

The fully-in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion still has Macpher­son struts at the front and Kia’s multi-link sys­tem at the rear, but with a range of mod­i­fi­ca­tions to im­prove body con­trol.

De­sign and Build

The ex­te­rior looks agree­ably up­mar­ket, with long, wrap-around head­lamps and more prom­i­nent fog-lamps, a larger, more up­right ‘ tiger-nose’ grille, with three-di­men­sional diamond pat­tern. It re­tains the long bon­net and chunky D-pil­lar, but a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape give a more mus­cu­lar stance.

The cabin fol­lows a ‘mod­ern and wide’ theme. More soft-touch ma­te­ri­als and leather aim at a lux­ury feel, although the Swiss watch-inspired cen­tre-con­sole still looks more Ca­sio than Rado. Five or seven seat mod­els are of­fered. The ex­tra 80mm of wheel­base means greater legroom. Cargo space in­creases, and with the third row seats folded flat is up 17.5%, from 515 to 605-litres.

Mar­ket and Model

Prices start in the re­gion of £29,000 which is still ex­cel­lent value for money.

To put that fig­ure into per­spec­tive, the sim­i­larly-sized Volvo XC90 will

re­quire you to dig in for another £20,000. In fact, Kia’s ask­ing for the sort of money you’d nor­mally bud­get for some­thing much smaller, such as a Toy­ota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V. At those prices, we’d for­give the Sorento for be­ing a bit rough round the edges. The fact that it looks very well-ap­pointed only makes its ri­vals’ task even tougher.

All four well-ap­pointed trim grades have seven seats, now with a 40:20:40 split in the mid­dle row and a 50:50 split in the rear. A six-speed au­to­matic gear­box is op­tional in place of the six-speed man­ual at the KX-2 and KX-3 lev­els and stan­dard with the plush KX-4 model. From KX-2 up­wards, buy­ers have the choice of or­der­ing the car with­out the self-lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion fea­ture at a sav­ing of £500.

The Sorento de­buts a num­ber of tech­nolo­gies to im­prove con­ve­nience and fur­ther en­hance the own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence. Se­lect from an Around-view Mon­i­tor, with four cam­eras help­ing the driver to ma­noeu­vre when park­ing, and a Smart Power Tailgate. This sys­tem opens the tailgate au­to­mat­i­cally when the key is ‘sensed’ in close prox­im­ity to the trunk, so own­ers can slide their shop­ping bags or heavy ob­jects straight into the ve­hi­cle.

Safety hasn’t been over­looked ei­ther and the Sorento has been en­gi­neered for Adap­tive Smart Cruise Con­trol, Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing Sys­tem, Front Col­li­sion Warn­ing, Blind-spot De­tec­tion, Lane Change As­sist, Rear Cross-traf­fic Alert and a Speed Limit In­for­ma­tion Func­tion, which dis­plays the speed limit in the driver’s in­stru­ment clus­ter based on cam­eras de­tect­ing road­side signs.

Cost of Own­er­ship

In the UK all ver­sions of the Sorento are pow­ered by the 2.2-litre ver­sion of Kia’s R-fam­ily tur­bod­iesel en­gine, which now meets EU6 emis­sions re­quire­ments. It fea­tures a new, fourth-gen­er­a­tion com­mon-rail fuel in­jec­tion sys­tem with in­creased in­jec­tion pres­sure.

For the first time in a Kia, au­to­matic mod­els as well as man­u­als fea­ture the com­pany’s In­tel­li­gent Stop & Go (ISG) en­gine stop/start sys­tem to en­sure that no fuel is used and no emis­sions are cre­ated when the car comes to a halt.

This helps to im­prove both air qual­ity and noise lev­els in ur­ban ar­eas. Au­to­matic ver­sions also have Kia’s Ac­tive ECO fea­ture, which ad­justs the op­er­a­tion of the en­gine and trans­mis­sion to pro­mote max­i­mum fuel econ­omy in mo­tion. As a re­sult, all ver­sions of this Sorento have lower fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions. Man­ual mod­els on 17-inch wheels have com­bined econ­omy of 49.6mpg with CO2 emis­sions of only 149g/km, while for all au­to­mat­ics the re­spec­tive fig­ures are 42.2mpg and 177g/km.

Resid­ual val­ues ought to hold up well, with used buy­ers keen to get hold of a smartly-styled car with a host of mod­ern safety fea­tures and the bal­ance of a seven-year war­ranty in­tact.

Sum­mary

It’s hard not to be im­pressed at the way Kia has gone about de­vel­op­ing the third-gen­er­a­tion Sorento. While some may grum­ble that we don’t re­ally need cars to get pro­gres­sively big­ger with each pass­ing gen­er­a­tion, few would have any com­plaints about the way the Sorento has ma­tured.

It’s bet­ter look­ing than be­fore and a good deal more de­sign in­put has gone into re­fine­ment, both au­ral and hap­tic. It’s just a more as­sured and con­fi­dent de­sign. What we’re still not quite see­ing is a pro­nounced Kia hall­mark with this car. It still seems a fairly re­ac­tive move to the way the SUV mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing.

For many buy­ers, this is no bad thing. The Sorento looks more ex­pen­sive than it is and even in a no­to­ri­ously badge-con­scious sec­tor it would be too much of a bar­gain to over­look.

The new Kia Sorento packs plenty of nifty fea­tures into a mod­ern and as­sured de­sign

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