Throughout the island of Ireland, KIA has supplied vehicles to suit a variety of tastes, and their SUV range continues to prove popular. The arrival of the new Sorento marks the fourth generation of this popular SUV and it is the most high tech vehicle to date from the South Korean manufacturer. I spent some time behind the wheel of the newcomer which is available in three trim levels, 2, 3 and 4 (N.I.) and two trim levels K3 and K4 (ROI). From launch a choice of power trains, self charging hybrid (N.I.) and diesel (ROI/N.I.) and later this year a petrol plug-in hybrid will expand customer choice even further.
The new model rightly gains the honour of being the flagship of the KIA SUV family; it is stylish and thoroughly modern and headlines the Stonic, Niro and Sportage in the line-up. The mix is perfect as the designers sought to keep the robust exterior styling of earlier versions while applying a much greater degree of refinement and elegance- I feel that the latter two were absent in the earlier models. Its bodywork incorporates sharp lines and creases and is noticeably more sculpted than its more round-edged predecessor. With more contemporary geometric details and more swept-back, elongated proportions, the result is a more confident, more mature and more desirable design than ever. With the fourth generation model comes a helping of street cred, you will notice the new Sorento on approach with its bold frontal styling. The new model is the first vehicle to be based on KIA’s new-generation midsize SUV platform, paired with a larger body to maximise cargo and luggage space, the platform ensures that this SUV is one of the most versatile and spacious three-row vehicles on the market. With its innovative interior packaging means it can also accommodate the company’s new ‘Smartstream’ electrified powertrains, offering owners greater fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and higher performance than ever.
For N.I. buyers, the new Hybrid powertrain comprises a 1.6 litre T-GDi engine, 44.2kW electric motor and 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The engine and motor produce a combined total power output of 226bhp and 350Nm of torque, providing low emissions with high levels of performance from the new electrified powertrain. The intelligent packaging of the new platform means the battery pack can be located beneath the passenger compartment, with no impact on cabin or luggage space; this will be largely welcomed. Good news on emissions with CO2 as low as 158g/km. This will appeal to some users, unlike some hybrid vehicles, the new Sorento Hybrid can tow a braked trailer of up to 1,650kg in weight, with a maximum tow ball capacity of 100kg, offering owners greater fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and higher performance than ever. For diesel fans, and there are many throughout Ireland, a 2.2 litre engine offers 199bhp and 440Nm of torque and looking at performance, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 9.1 seconds with a top speed of 204kph (127mph). Making driving a sheer joy is an eight speed wet dual clutch automatic transmission.
The diesel engine has CO2 emissions of 176g/km and the maximum towing weight is 2,500kg. All models are exceptionally well equipped with LED technology for the headlights and rear combination lights, as well as for the daytime running lights, front and rear fog lights and high mounted brake light, alloy wheels and a temporary space saver spare wheel are standard equipment, with roof rails boosting looks. Seven seats are standard on all editions with 60:40 split, remote folding and reclining for the second row and a 50:50 split and fold arrangement for the third row. USB charge ports are handily provided for all three rows and in car entertainment is looked after thanks to DAB radio with a multi-device Bluetooth connection and voice recognition and music streaming, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
A reversing camera system with dynamic guidelines is integrated into the eight inch touchscreen and includes front and rear and rear parking sensors. One safety item I must highlight as being available as standard on trim 4, a Blind-Spot View Monitor which displays a high-resolution video feed in the driver’s instrument cluster if the driver indicates to change lane with another vehicle hidden in their blind spot. The new Sorento is a very practical means of transport but thanks to its attention to safety via a suite of equipment a very safe mode of transport and it comes with a comprehensive seven year warranty. On pricing- in ROI from €49,799- N.I. from £38,845.