What is it?
This is the all-new Kia Sorento. Under the direction of its design guru Peter Schreyer, Kia has completely transformed the four-wheel-drive figurehead of its range, broadening its appeal.
The Kia Sorento’s body-on-frame construction, low-range transfer box and live rear axle have all disappeared, replaced by a modern, monocoque design, with all the usual benefits of weight saving and crash safety.
What’s it like?
The Kia Sorento looks great. The nose is a winning combination of the Volvo XC60 and Nissan Murano, and it really sells the car. The width stays the same, but the track has been widened front and back so that the wheels fill the wheelarches. Add a 10mm lower stance and you’ve got an impressive muscular presence on the road that its predecessor never possessed.
The driving position is good, with well laid-out, easy-to-use controls and the now-familiar three-cylinder instrument binnacle, a Kia hallmark. Interior space is much improved. Although the wheelbase has been shortened, the dashboard has moved forward and the tailgate pushed back, combining with thinner seats to give good amounts of leg and headroom. The third row of seats is suitable for children only on long journeys, but could take a couple of adults on a short trip.
The new Sorento has a comfortable, lightly damped ride that will happily soak up the worst that British roads have to offer. Estate car drivers would take time to adjust to the large amounts of body roll, pitching and fidgeting under hard cornering, but the Sorento maintains its line well in high-speed bends. Dynamically it lacks the precision, adjustability and general sortedness of the Ford Kuga and Audi Q5, but the absorbent ride does a lot to compensate for this.
The Sorento’s star attraction is the new 194bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel. This is undoubtedly the best in the class at the moment, with an easy-spinning character and plenty of low-end torque. Mated to either the new six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox, it provides comfortable overtaking ability and relaxed, economical cruising.
Should I buy one?
The Kia Sorento should be most comfortable competing with traditional seven-seat estate cars and niche vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai+2. Its desirability against these rivals will largely be determined by price.
Kia hasn’t confirmed UK prices yet, but expect the two-wheel-drive 2.2-litre turbodiesel five-seater to undercut the current Sorento by a few hundred pounds and the top-spec, seven-seat diesel automatic to peak at around £2000 above the current range-topper.