Kia Sorento – UK First Drive Review
A chance to drive a newly launched car from Kia was not to be missed, so I made the long trek south in order to be one of the first to get behind the wheel.
What is it?
The Sorento is Kia’s range-topping SUV and sits alongside the Stonic, Niro and Sportage. This fourth-generation model will compete in a hotly contested sector, with knowledgeable buyers keen to acquire safe and comfortable transportation for their growing families.
The design is considerably more imposing than the predecessor, with sharp lines and a bold front end giving the car much more presence on the road.
Kia make some of the best interiors on offer today and the new Sorento’s cabin is a delight. Premium-quality materials abound and as expected there is ample room for all. The front seats, heated and cooled in top models, proved to be most comfortable. The second row boasts ample leg and headroom for the largest of passengers and all Sorentos come equipped with two more pews at the back. These are more suited I would suggest for younger passengers, as clambering in requires a certain amount of flexibility.
Three trim levels are offered, simply named 2, 3 and 4. Prices start from £38,845 and there is plenty of equipment as standard. In keeping with the family-friendly nature of the car, there are USB charge ports in all three rows and dual-zone automatic air conditioning including outlets for the third row.
I suspect most buyers will opt for the mid or high spec model, as ‘2’ lacks leather seats and satellite navigation, though connecting a smart phone can easily make up for the latter.
Kia are offering the new Sorento with both petrol and diesel power. The latter is a new 2.2-litre engine producing 199bhp and is mated to a new eight-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox. Only available in ‘3’ trim, the engine is refined and smooth and can propel the car from 0 to 62mph in 9.1 seconds. Emissions are 176g/km CO2 and up to 42.2mpg may be possible according to the figures for the combined cycle.
Of more interest is the new hybrid powertrain. This comprises of a 1.6-litre petrol engine which works in conjunction with a 44.2kW electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery pack. The engine and motor produce a combined total power of 226bhp. Emissions are from just 158g/km CO2 and the combined economy figure is up to 40.9mpg. All three trim levels are available.
Unlike many hybrid vehicles, the Sorento can tow a braked trailer of up to 1,650kg, a boon for caravaners and boat lovers. All models come with a new multimode all-wheel drive system. Clever electronics allow distribution of torque to all four wheels and can adapt the transmission shift times to help maintain traction. I will put it to the test on home turf in the near future.
I got to sample both engines and the new hybrid stood out, not only for refinement but for real world economy. On what were admittedly short drives, petrol seemed to outperform diesel by almost 10mpg. Not only that, the lighter petrol engine improved the Sorento’s handling, being much less nose heavy.
As a vehicle designed to move a family in comfort, the new Sorento is most accomplished. The suspension does an excellent job of isolating the cabin from all but the very worst sections of broken tarmac, and it does this without allowing an excess amount of body roll through the corners- a problem with some top-heavy SUVs.
At motorway speeds there is very little wind or road noise to disturb, so all aboard should be set fair for long family excursions. However, the DAB radio will allow multiple devices to connect via Bluetooth, so there may be some arguments as to what plays through the quality speakers…
A raft of safety equipment comes as standard, much of it aiming to help avoid an accident in the first place. The Forward Collision Avoidance Assist is at the heart of this, using the front camera and radar to detect issues and apply the brakes if necessary. I had no need of it.
Sister company Hyundai offer the Santa Fe, with prices starting from £35,450 if you want all-wheel drive. Diesel power only and the five-year warranty is two years shy of Kia’s excellent offering.
Audi’s Q7 is an impressive and imposing competitor, but you will need well over £50,000 to get behind the wheel and that is before you start raiding the rather long options list, and you will.
Volvo’s XC90 is one of my favourites, but once again you will need to spend considerably more than the top spec Sorento to get behind the wheel (from £52,235).
If you need to drive across a ploughed field or carry seven large adults, then the Land Rover Discover may be for you. (From £47,680).
A mid-spec hybrid Sorento retails at £41,245 and looks like conspicuously good value to me. It wants for nothing, boasts a frugal and refined powertrain and is a comfortable and relaxing car to drive. There’s space aplenty for passengers and luggage, all wrapped up in a distinctive and attractive bodyshell.
And let us not forget the ownership experience, likely to be second to none. A comprehensive seven-year warranty, first rate build quality and an excellent dealer network are worthy of note.
Talk to them about the range of affordable finance and buy what is one of the most capable and desirable family-friendly cars on the market today.
• Kia Sorento
• Prices from £38,845 to £46,945
• Choice of 3 trim levels
• 7-year/100,000-mile warranty
• 12-year anti-perforation warranty
• All-wheel drive on all models
• Seven-seats as standard
• 199bhp diesel engine
• 226bhp hybrid/petrol engine
• Plug-in hybrid coming soon
• Emission from 158 to 176g/km CO2
• Insurance group 30 to 32