First drive: the new Kia Sorento
The purveyor of our Reasonably Priced Car freshens up its seven-seat 4x4. Wait, come back!
Posted: 05 Oct 2012
OK, how long will this take?
We'll be quick, promise. Kia - the makers of our very Reasonably Priced Car, the cee-apostrophe-dee - has instructed its Men With Spanners to make merry underneath the Sorento in an attempt to bring it in line with its other rather good offerings.
Hang on, the ‘new' Sorento only came out three years ago.
That's quite right, it's only been three years since the last ‘new' Sorento was wheeled out before the world's press. And to be honest, it was a bit unfortunate, largely because it came at the point when Kia started to make really good, worthy, class-rivalling motors. That last one, erm, wasn't. Hence this ‘new' one.
So what have they done?
Quite a bit, actually. There's an entirely new platform underneath: showcasing their ardent appreciation for British bubble-gum poppers ‘Steps'*, the front subframe has been reshaped into an ‘H' shape, there's additional reinforcement at the rear, there are high performance dampers all round, larger suspension bushes and longer trailing arms at the back. See? Different.
Talk to me about torsional stiffness. I need to know torsional stiffness!
It's a full 18 per cent stiffer than the last Sorento, largely because a quarter of the new Sorento's body is constructed from ultra-high-strength steel. If you pout while driving, you could qualify it as ‘Blue Steel'...
What's it like?
Bouncy. Despite Kia's best efforts to inject some sporting enthusiasm into the Sorento, it's a big, heavy, four-wheel-drive SUV. Our spirited test drive took in some corners, many of which were drowned out by the tyres screeching their displeasure. The steering was fine, and for such a big lug - it weighs nearly two tonnes - the body roll wasn't as bad as we expected. But it bounced along the road and didn't really encourage quick driving.
But you don't drive cars like this with a crash helmet on. Cool it, and the Sorento is actually really friendly - smooth, refined, cosseting and like a big, warm blanket. The engine struggled a tad - a 2.2-litre diesel with 194bhp is the only option - while the six-speed auto struggled to remember what it wanted most of the time. But it's huge inside, offers seven seats as standard (two little ‘uns in the back) in the very back, and even comes with full-time 4x4. And did we mention its refinement?
Should I care?
Yes, actually. It's better than before, and prices start at £26,495 for the bog-standard one with cloth. You can, in Kia's own words, ‘dress them up like Christmas trees', but it'll cost ya. A nice effort, but the Hyundai Santa Fe has just undergone a similar refresh too, and the last model was a good ‘un...
*Largely untrue, but wouldn't it be funny if they did?