KIA SORENTO: a vast behind, as they say in nautical circles

975220_170315-kia-bFANCY a nice relaxing trip to Sorento? It’s not as far as you might think.

Languishing behind the plate glass window of your nearest Kia dealer stands fair and square – and tall – the brand flagship in the UK.

Flagship is actually an appropriate analogy, as it is a big, commanding beast.

975222_170315-kia-cSorento is the car that Kia acknowledge changed the way the world viewed the brand back in 2002, and the latest offering has what they dub executive-class space – you and I might prefer to refer to it as vast.

Everyone certainly gets plenty of room, so much so that you’re constantly aware of the size of the cabin and that you’re not occupying over much of it.

Even the third row of seats (I did say it was a seven seater, didn’t I?) has decent enough space. It’s versatile with a capital V, and with that back row safely stowed, there’s a very useable amount of carrying capacity.

There are six models to choose from and all have permanent four wheel drive, a seven seat interior and a choice of four trim levels.

975221_170315-kia-aThankfully the days are gone when base models used to be as luxurious as a cave. So you’ll find lots of useful equipment in the entry level Sorento, and the KX-2 variant sampled here takes it a step further with automatic lights and wipers, dual automatic air conditioning, a seven inch TFT touchscreen sat nav which also has a reversing camera linked to it,and optional self levelling suspension.

A number of advanced safety features have helped Sorento gain a 5 star Euro NCAP rating – Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, six airbags with roll-over sensor, active front headrests and an active bonnet to protect pedestrians as much as possible all feature as standard kit.

There’s no chance of finding plastics that would look cheap on an African wheely bin here. Kia pride themselves on serving up a premium quality feel to their cars, and they’ve had a decent enough stab at it here, given that there is a vast dash area to cover.

1043265_KX4 007Suck, squeeze, bang, blow – the basic working pattern of the infernal combustion engine, and after some 100 years we’re getting quite good at building them. So no surprise that the 2.2 lump in the Sorento is an efficient piece of metal…..

The turbodiesel has been completely re-engineered to meet EU6 emission regs and now develops 197bhp and a punchy 441Nm of torque from a lowly 1750rpm. It’s also fitted with ISG stop/start to save fuel and cut emissions when you’re at a standstill.

Sorento has the Dynamax all wheel drive system first seen on the Sportage, which continuously monitors driving conditions and anticipates when you’re going to need power to all four wheels. Normally you’re getting 100 per cent of engine torque to the front but it can be split 60:40 front to rear. Going off road? Select lock mode which gives a 50:50 torque split up to 25mph.

Market research among previous customers told Kia they needed to keep the space the Sorento offers, its towing performance, warranty and value for money. They seem to have achieved all that and made a few improvements into the bargain.

FASTFACTS: Kia Sorento KX-2; £31,995; 2199cc four cylinder 16v turbocharged diesel, 197bhp, 311lb/ft torque; six speed manual gearbox; top speed 124mph, 0-60mph 9 secs; fuel – urban 37.2, extra urban 53.3, combined 46.3; CO2 161g/km; will it fit the garage? 4780/1890/1685 (l/w/h); seven year warranty.

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