Wheels (Australia)

GARAGE

DEPARTING SORENTO MAKES ITS CASE AS THE BEST CAR IN KIA’S AUSTRALIAN LINE-UP

- ASH WESTERMAN

Sorento departs to fight 100 giraffes; GV80’s paint causes anxiety; Puma, and its owner, exit stage left

WE WERE about 20 minutes north of Newcastle, me and the Kia Sorento, cruise control holding us at an indicated 110km/h, the diesel four barely audible as it sipped at an indicated 7.2 litres per 100km. I was gathering together my final thoughts on Kia’s seven-seater, helped by a cranking Tidal playlist via Apple CarPlay, when a WhatsAp message pinged through from one of my more cerebral, deep-thinking mates. The Apple assistant helpfully asked if I’d like her to read it, which I did.

In her slightly staccato delivery, she said, “What would you prefer to fight: A giraffe-sized dog, or 100 dogsized giraffes?”

It was a tricky one, especially as the stature of the dog-sized ‘geeraffs’, as she pronounced them, wasn’t specified. Were we talking fox-terriersiz­ed? Or would I be dealing with

100 mastif-sized giraffes coming at me as one angry herd? I’d need more thinking time on this one.

One thing I didn’t need to ponder was the fact that the Sorento’s impending departure would leave a real hole. As motoring enthusiast­s, I think we’re largely in agreeance that a large wagon beats a large

SUV every time, however, if you occasional­ly need those extra two third-row seats, there simply isn’t a wagon on the Aussie market that can deliver such a layout. Further, I’ve grudgingly come around to the fact that an SUV’s extra ground clearance is useful for dealing with urban obstacles like steep driveways and

parking space front kerbs.

So with that establishe­d, the other irrefutabl­e fact is that the Sorento really is a great family touring wagon. It’s brilliantl­y quiet, calm and longlegged on a road trip, with a range of around 850km. But more than just that is the fact it has so few flaws to annoy you. The front seats are super comfortabl­e and supportive, and with both heating and cooling, one’s butt is always temperate. Everything from the HVAC, to the nav, to the head-up display, works exactly as it should.

The steering is nicely calibrated to provide a decent sense of connection to the road, but is also never flighty or nervous, no matter what the road condition. As for the ride, I still reckon it’s a fraction too nibbly and reactive at suburban speeds, but in touring mode, the chassis has great absorbency and real composure.

The safety stuff was less equivocal. Rear-cross traffic alert was frequently useful, but I found the lane-keep function too intrusive and inconsiste­nt, and requires a dig into sub menus on each start-up to disable it.

Of the extra equipment that comes with this GT-Line spec, it was the

Bose audio I appreciate­d most. Like any good system it’s super revealing of the source material, so DAB radio sounds good but not amazing. Stream high-resolution content, though, and it comes alive, with great punch, a convincing soundstage and properly solid, tight bass.

As for the slightly vibey idle I moaned about in my first update, it’s become fractional­ly less noticeable as the odo has moved past 5000km, yet is still an area that deserves some developmen­tal attention.

But the fact that I don’t have a laundry list of areas that could benefit from attention – apart from the lack of the third-row airbags and engine NVH tweaking – is testament to how well Kia has nailed the sevenseate­r SUV brief in the Sorento’s fourth generation, at least with the diesel AWD line-up.

Hopefully the arrival of the hybridpetr­ol model will allow Kia to more completely take the fight to Mazda’s CX-9. Meanwhile, I’m preparing for hypothetic­al combat with 100 very small giraffes. But they’ll have to bring the battle to me, because I’m without a car right now.

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 ??  ?? Above: Sounds of Nature feature didn’t get much of a run during our tenure; not when the Bose system knows how to rock. Cabin scores highly for presentati­on and functional­ity
Above: Sounds of Nature feature didn’t get much of a run during our tenure; not when the Bose system knows how to rock. Cabin scores highly for presentati­on and functional­ity

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