THE Sorento is a big thing for Kia. Not just in size (although it is big and is the largest Kia SUV you can buy in the UK) but more in terms of importance. And that’s why Kia chose this important model to get its world debut at this month’s Geneva Motor Show.
Trouble is the whole show was cancelled due to you-know-what, so Kia took to social media a few weeks after the car’s planned reveal in Switzerland to show it off to the world – and here it is.
The Sorento is an important car for Kia not just because the name is an old one, but it’s the big SUV that competes with polished high-riders like the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Peugeot 5008 and the Skoda Kodiaq. It’s the Kia that’s supposed to show how desirable the brand is these days.
Over the past few years it’s been its smaller brother – the Sportage – that’s had this role in showing how advanced Kia is (who can forget the shockwaves the previous Sportage made when it launched in 2011?), but the Sorento has fought back.
It’ll be arriving over here in the summer and, using some quick maths, should cost around £1,500 more than the outgoing Sorento. So that means it’ll be around the £37,500 mark.
There are no complaints with the way it looks, that’s for sure. Kia makes a whole raft of cars around the world that never appear over here in Europe (you can blame our badge snobbery which still affects Kia – the stunning Stinger four-door coupe is a painful example of this), and one of them is the Telluride.
This Stateside SUV is longer than a Volvo XC90 and not far off rivalling the BMW X7 for outright size, and yet is classed as a mid-sized SUV by the Yanks. It’s rather large for UK roads, doesn’t have the right badge on the nose and only comes with a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine.
But it looks good and Kia knows it. That’s why the Sorento takes rather a lot of the brash Telluride’s styling – particularly at the back – and gives we Brits a taste of the Telluride’s glamour but not its shortcomings. Normally when car manufacturers do this it fails spectacularly, but here it works very well.
Under the bonnet there’s none of the Telluride’s petrol-guzzling V6 nonsense but a pair of very sensible engines. The Sorento gets one of Kia’s new 2.2-litre ‘Smartstream’ diesel engines with 200bhp, and it’ll power just the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive will be optional.
Above this diesel will be a smaller petrol and, as is the way with many cars these days, it’s a hybrid. The Sorento uses a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and a 59bhp electric motor. Total output is 227bhp and this is also front-wheel drive (but, like the diesel, four-wheel drive is an option, too).
If that’s not eco-friendly enough, a plug-in hybrid will arrive later using the same set-up of a 1.6 petrol and an electric motor. With the PHEV though, that electric motor pushes out 89bhp and will give 35 to 40 miles of pure electric running.
When it arrives in the summer you’ll be able to pick between five- and seven-seater versions and, thanks to the Sorento being a bit larger than the car it replaces (it’s 10mm longer, wider and taller, while the wheelbase has been stretched by 35mm), there’s more space inside. Boot room ranges from 821 to 910 litres with the seats folded flat, and Kia says every seat gets access to a USB port to keep devices charged.
The new Sorento gets a posh new interior to match its rather elevated (for a Kia) prices, too. Now it’s a lot more German in look and feel with lots of leather-covered materials, metal inlays and top models even quilted two-tone Nappa leather seats.
On the tech front, there’ll be an eight-inch central touchscreen plus a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the drive on all models, while higher-spec models boast a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The infotainment screen also gets Kia’s new operating system, which looks a lot better than before. Safety has also been improved with blind spot monitoring, surround view monitoring and smart cruise control with stop-go all on offer.
What do you think to the new Sorento? Leave your comments below.