Kia goes upmarket with the new seven-seat Sorento
Space with style GOING UPMARKET: Sorento. PHOTO: KIA

KIA is going upmarket and nothing manifests this aspiration more clearly than the new Kia Sorento. The seven-seat Kia Sorento, as with all recent Kias, is handsomely styled but this third-generation model is more aggressively sculpted with nice touches such as a front grille that is less flat and more 3D.


The 4,780 mm long and 1,685 mm high SUV is slightly longer and a bit shorter, with a wheelbase that has been extended by 80 mm to 2,780 mm.

This benefits the interior, which has been repackaged with repositioned seat cushions for better legroom. The third row of seats will even accommodate taller occupants, complete with aircon controls and vents.


But it is the forward section of the Sorento that is most impressive. The dashboard is stylishly contoured, with a leather-covered dashtop as well as fascia. There is a tiny touchscreen but everything from the reverse camera to leather upholstery is factory fitted. There are ventilated electric front seats with memory, as well as a height adjustable "smart tailgate" that senses the key fob and pops up automatically. A Smart Parking Assist System is also standard, for automated parallel and perpendicular parking.


As expected, the multi-function steering wheel bristles with controls for all sorts of trip computer and vehicle setting features, and all these bells and whistles further reinforcing the luxurious positioning of the new Sorento.

Under the bonnet, there is a choice of a petrol or diesel engine. Both are four-cylinder units mated to a six-speed automatic transmission but while the 2.4-litre petrol is naturally aspirated, the 2.2-litre diesel has forced induction.


This means the Kia Sorento Diesel has a very healthy 441 Newton-metres of torque available from below 2,000 rpm. With the turbodiesel's good low end torque, the 1,850 kg, four-wheel-driven Sorento takes off easily. The torque distribution varies depending on the road conditions and when driven normally, most of the power is sent to the front wheels for optimum efficiency.

To reduce fuel consumption further, the Sorento Diesel gets an auto engine stop-start function which the petrol version does not have.


There is also an Eco option, along with Normal and Sport, which alters the transmission shift points accordingly. These are found under the Drive Mode function, which replaces the previous Sorento's Flex Steer function that only modified the steering weight.


The steering itself is surprisingly responsive because of a new electric power steering system, where the motor is mounted directly on the steering rack instead of the steering column for improved feel and precision.


The new and more upmarket Kia Sorento is part of the Korean carmaker's efforts to become one the world's top five auto manufacturers within the next five year. From the way the Sorento looks and feels, it appears on target to achieve its goal.

CAR INFORMATION

Kia Sorento Diesel 2.2 SX 7-Seater (A)

Price

:$146,999

Engine Type

:

Common Rail Direct Injection

Engine Cap

:

2,199 cc

Horsepower

:

197 bhp / 3,800 rpm

Torque

:

441 Nm / 1,750 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

9.6 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

203 km/h