Kia Sorento

   A friend of mine, let’s call him John, is an analytical kind of chap. He has an eye for detail. Hand John a pair of designer jeans and he’ll ruthlessly check the seams; he’s the same if you hand him a jacket, a pair shoes, a suitcase, you name it… He’s the kind of guy who can tell a genuine Fred Perry Polo shirt from a Chinese copy at 50 paces - I know because he showed me how. Minutiae it would appear is his thing. Fortunately he’s also good company and usually comes with good conversation, both of which I find are always welcome. He joined me recently on one of my little (3 hour) drives. The car I was driving was the new Kia Sorento. In KX3 spec, just to be precise.

     “I didn’t think it was going to be quite so big” John said when first confronted with what is the 3rd generation Sorento “It’s a bit of a whopper. Nice though, good looking, well, for an SUV, and I like the way the plastics (what Kia calls body cladding) have been integrated in to the wheel arches, they’re the bits that always get knocked on family-orientated stuff. Nice touch that” As a practical kind of Dad, John notices that kind of thing straight away.

    The simple fact is, at 4780mm the new Sorento is longer (by 95mm), and wider (by 5mm), than the model it replaces, and it’s lower and sleeker too to aid fuel economy. There’s also an 80mm increase in wheelbase.

     Once inside, and after making himself comfortable in the Sorento’s leather passenger seat,  as I plugged my phone into the Sorrento’s USB port and made some final electronic adjustments to my driving position and mirrors, John’s critique continued.

 “Infinity speakers, that’s quality stuff, DAB and a good sized sat-nav screen as well. Impressive”

 All KX3 Sorentos get an 8inch touchscreen sat-nav with European maps as standard. The screen also displays the images from the rear parking camera – handy when you consider both the Sorento’s size and, should the occasion arise, when coupling it to a trailer. Incidentally the Sorento can tow up to 2500kg and all specs get Trailer Assist as standard. Alternatively, if you’re not the passenger carrying type, with the rear two rows of seating folded the Sorento’s load space is gargantuan. And, as KX3 Sorentos are just one step down from the range –topping KX4s, they also get a full length panoramic sunroof. Despite being over 6 feet tall John didn’t’ notice that until I drew back the one touch blind. Headroom therefore must have been considered, subconsciously perhaps, sufficient.

    “Hmm, some of the plastic bits are a bit hard and scratchy when you start poking around aren’t they, and you’d have thought they’d have made put some leather on the handbrake lever so it matches the steering wheel. It’s quiet in here though, and the dashboard and door-tops feel nice and soft, the switches too. What’s it like to drive? Have to admit though I thought it was going to be automatic”

    I’ll admit I thought the Sorento was going to swap its own cogs too, auto ‘boxes and seven seater SUVs seem to go hand-in-hand these day. And, if I’m brutally honest there’s little joy to be had from the Sorento’s manual gearbox’s wide gate. Still, at least it serves to keep both the tax band down and the CO2 emissions: a manual Sorrento sits in tax band G (£180) whereas the auto sits in band I (£350). Fleet buyers beware.

   There’s only one the only engine choice - a 2.2 litre diesel - and at first it sounds a little, shall we say, industrial. Once warm though it provides relaxed cruising and, thanks to some useful low-down torque, surprising punch, especially whilst overtaking. The Sorento also very rides well. The steering does feel very light despite Kia moving the electric motor that controls it closer to the action at the rack, and obviously it’s no sports-car. But because it’s lower and lighter now than it ever was, the Sorento resists the urge to roll excessively in corners and can punted along all day at a decent pace. The ride does suffer from a little patter over expansion gaps and the like, and there’s a bit of wind noise as result of the huge door mirrors, nevertheless neither foible is too intrusive.

    On tarmac the Sorento is effectively front-wheel drive, but off-road it can also hold its own.  When the going gets gooier a percentage of torque is transferred automatically to the rear wheels via the Dynamax all-wheel drive system to ensure there’s no loss of traction. There’ also the option to manually select “lock mode” and split the torque equally between the Sorento’s front and rear axles for improved stability at speeds up to 19mph. Should your speed increase further lock mode is automatically disabled, however if you’re not fully out of the woods it will re-engage as soon as your speed drops back down.

 

    As we make our way closer to home John discovers the Sorento’s weighty handbook in the glovebox. “Kia” he says reading the opening line “The Power to Surprise” He grins. “I’d say they got that bit spot-on.”

 

   Upon turning the Sorento around on John’s driveway there comes a question from the passenger seat.  “So, apart from saying, the all-new Kia Sorento: It’s actually rather nice, well built, and surprisingly, very good, what else Liam are going to write?”

 

   Don’t worry John, you know me, I’ll think of something.

 

 

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-3 Manual

Engine: 2,199cc 4Cyl, 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 6 speed Manual, all-wheel drive.

Power:  197bhp @3800pm

Torque: 311 lbft @1800 - 2500rpm

0-62MPH: 9.0Sec

Max Speed: 124mph

CO2: 161g/km

MPG: 46.3 combined

Price: from £35,845

 

Many thanks to Moyosola at KIA’s UK press office for the loan of the SORENTO
 

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

Section:

Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

Read More from Liam Bird