WHAT a handsome fellow the new Kia Sorento has turned out to be. Its matinée idol
WHAT a handsome fellow the new Kia Sorento has turned out to be. Its matinée idol good looks are enough to tempt the most discerning of buyers.
Indeed, everywhere I went on this week‘s drive, this latest incarnation of the Sorento seemed to be the object of admiring glances.
So is it the Cary Grant of cars, dare I say the George Clooney of crossover SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles)?
Perhaps dashing George, who has a new home at Sonning Eye, will choose a Sorento to swan around Henley in. You never know.
Whatever the preferred wheels of movie stars — Arnold Schwarzenegger absolutely fits his huge, pumped up Hummer — this new Sorento is definitely a star in its own right.
For a start this new, third-generation “flagship for Kia in the UK“ is such an improvement on any of its predecessors.
Kia will say that Sorento was the car that “changed the way the world saw Kia“ when it was launched in 2002. That may well be so, but I think from that year Kia still had a long way to go to attain the kind of footing it now has across the board with its new model range.
It took a revolution at Kia — led by Peter Schreyer as chief design officer, now president of design for the Hyundai Motor Group of which Kia is a part — to bring about such transformation. Incidentally, in my experience, this change fed all the way through from the top — right down to the way cars are delivered to journalists.
Now this service is slick and professional, as I imagine Kia‘s delivery is to its growing number of successful dealers in the UK. Indeed, Kia hit new sales records in June to deliver its best-ever sales performance for that month and also saw its year to date sales total reach a new high.
For my money this new Sorento epitomises this evolution at pace that has elevated Kia in the global automobile sales market.
Make no mistake, the competition now is beyond fierce — that‘s why new cars have to be so good — and Kia will have to stay on its mettle to remain up there with the best.
This suave Sorento should do its bit for the cause — it is longer, lower and wider than the previous model — and that shows. When you get behind the wheel of this SUV it feels like you are about to experience a long, luxurious drive. Passengers too are well catered for: the extended wheelbase allows for three rows of seats.
The re-engineered 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine has plenty of pulling power. The test car had a manual transmission and I sometimes found that because the six-speed box affords high-geared fifth and sixth positions, presumably for effortless motorway cruising, my thoughts drifted to the advantages of an automatic gearbox.
There is a six-speed automatic gearbox available in this new Sorento range that comprises six models. I hope to test the automatic version at a later date, because I think this is a crucial element for drivers when choosing to buy larger crossover SUVs.
All Sorento models have permanent, intelligent all-wheel drive which was first seen on the new Kia Sportage. Another great advantage with this Sorento is that all models have a versatile seven-seat interior.
For one trip to the garden centre, to create space for items we bought, I simply dropped the rearmost seats flat and the middle one of the second row to create more than enough room for our garden goodies.
Going back for a moment to the Sorento‘s handsome lines, this of course is no accident. I have always advocated that design rules our lives whether we realise it or not.
I admire good design in all things probably above everything else because this is usually followed by well thought out quality functioning parts.
For the first time on a new Kia model, the Korean carmaker has introduced a new laser welding technique, which allows for “closer body panel connections“. This may be too subtle a technology for your average buyer to take on board, yet I believe its contribution to the overall design of this car is apparent.
Others recognise this breakthrough in style: the Sorento won the prestigious IF Design Award in Germany. An international jury praised its “finish, innovation, environmental impact and safety“. The Sorento is the seventh Kia to receive an IF Design Award.
There are four trim grades: KX-1 to KX-4. I drove the KX-2, which felt luxurious. However, the top of the range KX-4 has even more per square foot of comfort zone, including a “10-way power-adjustable driver‘s seat with four-way powered lumbar adjustment“.
For a price range for the new Kia Sorento of between £26,995 and £36,805 you can buy yourself a lot of luxury SUV at a reasonable price when compared with other cars of this type.
The economics of buying this car may be tempting, but for me those suave Sorento good looks are going to take some beating at any price. Maybe that handsome “wide tiger-nose grille with three-dimensional mesh“ will prove the winning smile on the new face of the Sorento.
Kia Sorento Fact File:
Test car: Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI KX-2 Manual
• Price (on-the-road): £31,995
What‘s new about the new Sorento?
• Longer and wider than previous model
• Smart powered tailgate
• Wide tiger-nose grille with three-dimensional mesh