Twin-turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel unit will form part of production hybrid powertrains

Kia has confirmed it will be pursuing diesel-hybrid technology in future production cars after showing a Sorento concept at the Frankfurt motor show.

A Kia source told Autocar that a close variant of the Sorento hybrid’s powertrain is likely to make production by 2012 in the Kia range.

See the high-res Kia Sorento hybrid picture gallery

“Diesel hybrids are certainly the way we’d like to go with our alternatively powered vehicles in the future,” said the source.

“The powertrain seen in the Sorento has a strong chance of making production, be it in that model or others such as the Cee’d. All manufacturers have to work to get their emissions down and we think this is one our best chances of getting there.”

The Sorento hybrid uses a new 1.6-litre diesel unit, which is fitted with twin turbochargers to help it produce 161bhp. The engine is mated to an electric motor and drives the front wheels via a new double-clutch transmission offering a choice of fully-automatic, or manual sequential gear changes. This helps the Sorento achieve CO2 emissions of 119g/km.

Kia is also looking at introducing electric vehicles within the next two years, according to another company source.

The firm will launch a new version of the Picanto in 2011 and this is likely to be offered with an electric powertrain, too. Sister firm Hyundai showed off its all-electric version of the i10 city car at the Frankfurt motor show last week.

“Obviously we’re the same company and share R&D,” said the source. “So the i10 electric shows a way we’re going to go as well. When we show the new Picanto, there should be an electric version as well.”

The source said Kia has also developed an all-electric version of its Sportage SUV in Korea.

“Company executives have all seen it,” said the source. “But it’s only ever been conceived as a prototype. It’s unlikely we’ll show something like that at a motor show be it as a concept or in production form.”

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Our Verdict

An attractive and capable SUV with slightly ambitious pricing

An almost class-leading family 4x4, if a little pricey given its workmanlike flavour

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