Test Drive: The New Kia Sorento
Ian Lamming is buoyed by Kia’s latest hi-tech Sorento
IT’S a big moment, a year in the making and the boy is super excited.
Pop the electric tailgate with a button on the fob and a large boot space is revealed in seconds. Couple of pressed buttons later and the two sets of rear seats drop and the prizepristine mountain bike, a birthday present ordered 12 months ago, slots easily in the back of the new gargantuan Kia Sorento. I love this car already.
The bike is the simplest of machines and it fits nicely into the back of this Korean SUV leaving one seat in place in the middle row for the boy to sit in. All aboard for a fun day in the forest.
As I select drive on the natty gear knob something doesn’t quite compute. There’s an orange warning triangle on the dash with an exclamation mark in the centre. A few yards on this is reinforced by another orange warning light, this time the cross section of a tyre again sporting the dreaded exclamation mark. Denial! No! Not watching!
Then the whole rev counter on the stunning virtual dash becomes a sun ball of amber telling me to check the tyre pressure monitoring system. Now that’s something I can’t ignore. So I click through the trip computer to reach the readout containing the pressures which reads 34, 34, 34, 23, telling me the puncture is in the driver’s side rear. Everybody off.
The boy’s inaugural ride is reduced to a spin around the block, his mother accompanying onfoot, while I head off to the local Kwikfit, but not before I try to get some air back in the stricken tyre.
Normally, when you have to drive on a tyre that you know is damaged it’s a stressful affair tip toeing to the garage oblivious to what might be happening to the wheel.
Not so with this brilliant Sorento. The tyre pressure monitor shows me exactly how much air is in the tyre and it barely moves from the registered 29, just five down on what it should be.
Something very sharp has cut through the chunkiest part of the tread, enough to cause a slow puncture, but the tyre is ruined and the gimpy space-saver is fitted – thank goodness it has one as few cars do nowadays and the Sorento still drives well enough.
It’s the very best of a bad job but surprisingly easy to live with. Three proper wheels on my wagon and the Sorento is still rolling along, which is great as the fourth generation is a simply stupendous vehicle.
I’ve loved the previous three but IV is a huge leap forward in terms of technology, dynamics and quality.
It is big and bold with angular lines a geometric details. The tiger face grille smiles even wider and is flanked with cool LED lights which give Sorento huge presence on the road. From the side it looks long with short overhands front and rear and at the back the tailgate is set off by unique vertical LED lights. It’s a great looking car whichever way you look at it.
Mammoth proportions translate to a capacious interior but it is the sheer quality of the fixtures that impresses even more. It is beautifully built with high grade leather, etched metal and top quality trim. It feels great.
The virtual clocks are clever and easy to operate and the wide touchscreen is flanked by touch-buttons with haptics. It really is an excellent fascia which not only looks and feels great but is intuitive to use; full marks Kia.
Back from the dash, down the transmission tunnel, is the round gear knob which turns left and right from R to N and D, with P for park being a button in the centre. Inch rearward again and there is a smaller knob that allows you to switch terrain settings for snow, mud and sand, as well as sport, eco and comfort. It’s all great.
There’s a hybrid petrol variant for the first time but this Sorento is the latest diesel which is refined, very powerful and frugal. The 2.2 turbo unit chucks out a smidge under 200BHP and bags of torque for performance and towing and still returns more than 40mpg.
It is coupled with an awesome eight-speed auto which changes like an Audi – now I wonder how they managed that?
Lastly, handling, grip and ride are peerless. It is big but doesn’t drive like it is and it feels sharp and well-mannered through the bends. On the straights it is a relaxed cruiser and in town easy to manoeuvre thanks to lofty driving position, parking beepers and rear view camera.
What a car. New Sorento is absolutely tremendous in every way and even with its gammy wheel leaves you feeling far from deflated.
Kia Sorento CRDi DCT AWD
Engine: 2.2 turbo diesel
0-62mph: 9.1 secs
Top speed: 127mph
Combined MPG: 42.2
Transmission: eight-speed auto 4x4
CO2 g/km: 176