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Thursday, 20 September 2018
ABOUT this time of year land around Snowshill in the north of the Cotswolds is tinted with the unmistakable hue of lavender fields in full flower.
The first time I drove the new Kia Sorento was in 2015 on a trip to see this superb sight — an understated spectacle that hundreds flock to each year.
The Kia Sorento then was impressive against the backdrop of the lavender fields.
But this big, handsome SUV (sport utility vehicle) in 2018 just got better.
The updated, third-generation flagship vehicle for Kia in the UK has new GT-Line and GT-Line S variants added to the model roster.
As well as a price tag that gives more expensive rivals a run for their money, this luxurious SUV has a new eight-speed automatic gearbox that replaces the former six-speed unit. And the 2018 Sorento has a new understated sportier look that is very appealing.
The new eight-speed auto gearbox, which operates smoothly and efficiently, is offered in four of the seven Sorento models.
Kia says economy with the new auto gearbox improves to 43.5mpg compared with the previous automatic, while CO2 emissions are cut from 174g/km to 170.
The option for drivers is to leave the car in fully automatic mode, or change gears with steering wheel-mounted paddles in the GT-Line and GT-Line S.
The Sorento continues to be available with a six-speed manual gearbox if preferred in certain versions.
All versions are seven-seat SUVs powered by a useful engine that displays extremely good torque (pulling power).
This is a 197bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that drives all four wheels through an intelligent four-wheel-drive system.
Depending on model, the Sorento features a host of new technologies, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Around View Monitoring, Driver Alert Warning and Speed Limit Information Function.
The “subtly sportier look” of the GT-Line and GT-Line S versions
(I have been driving the latter) works well because it gives the Sorento a modern flair for 2018 without going overboard.
So both new versions feature
19-inch double five-spoke alloy wheels, a stainless steel side step, ice cube-style front foglights, red brake calipers and twin exhaust pipes. GT-Line S has LED headlights with a dynamic bending function.
The sheer luxurious interior is hard to fault: black leather seats with light grey stitching, a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and a bespoke GT-Line design leather gearshift.
More interior space has been made possible by a 95mm increase in overall length compared with its predecessor and a 80mm longer wheelbase.
The Sorento’s rakish looks — that so attracted me to it in the first place — are helped further by a 15mm reduction in height and a 5mm wider body when measured against the previous model.
This helps facilitate better interior space in all three rows of seats and 90 litres more luggage capacity.
There is no doubt diesel power is on the back foot with recent government proclamations that the diesel engine’s days are numbered.
However, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine fitted to all seven Kia Sorento models remains a winner for the foreseeable.
The engine develops 197bhp, which gives the Sorento great driveability on- and off-road.
Manual models accelerate from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds, with the auto taking 9.1 seconds, and all versions have a top speed of 127mph.
All models have Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop/start system to ensure that no fuel is used and no emissions are released when the car comes to a halt.
All Sorento versions have Trailer Stability Assist for safe towing. The Sorento has all-independent suspension and motor driven power steering.
The five trim grades have seven seats with a 40:20:40 split in the middle row and a 50:50 split in the rear.
Depending on model, the Sorento features a number of new technologies. The Sorento has been awarded five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests.
All versions have a digital DAB radio compatible with MP3 players and Bluetooth with music streaming, and now feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which offer voice control. A reversing camera is available on all grades.
I liked the GT-Line S version because it does not stint on providing essentials that qualify it for the luxury tag.
These have to be essential ingredients these days for any large SUV only with Kia this does not bump up the price to ridiculous heights.
So this version has the Smart Park Assist system, 360-degree Around View Monitor, Adaptive Smart Cruise Control, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, ventilated front seats, solar glass and rear side window blinds, a panoramic sunroof, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking and the 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S Auto AWD
• Price of test car on the road: £41,995
• Updated third-generation flagship SUV for Kia in the UK
• New GT-Line and GT-Line S variants add a sporty flourish
• New eight-speed auto gearbox replaces former six-speed unit
• Eight-speed auto reduces fuel consumption and emissions
• Seven seats and intelligent all-wheel drive standard
• Great power and torque from 2.2-litre diesel engine
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