The new Kia Sorento SUV, which goes on sale in the UK in early 2015, has made its in-the-metal debut at an event before the full Paris Motor Show tomorrow. The starting price is expected to be in the region of £27,000.
Kia is making a big noise about how quiet, refined and strong the new Sorento is versus its predecessor, and promising its plusher new cabin will be a much more refined environment to cover big mileages in. Only one engine, a 2.2 diesel, will be offered in the UK range.
Kia says the new Sorento can win over customers from premium brands. The company believes the car has the potential to increase sales by 50 per cent in Europe, from around 10,000 annually to 15,000.
"Badge snobbery is less of an issue when you have something that looks great sitting on your drive," said Kia Europe's chief operating officer Michael Cole. "We are confident about the car and should be confident about prices."
Currently the most expensive Sorento in the UK is the £36,805 KX-4 2.2 CRDi, and although prices are likely to rise, UK boss Paul Philpott said the on-the-road price for the flagship version of the new car would remain under £40k.
Active cruise control, lane-departure, blind spot and front collision warning assist plus speed limit recognition are all available in Kia’s flagship rival to the Hyundai Sante Fe and upcoming Ford Edge.
On the refinement front, Kia’s attempted some impressive attention to detail to achieve its bold boasts about road manners. All models have a 29 per cent thicker dashboard to shut out noise, plus revised engine mounts to reduce vibrations, claims Kia.
Worldwide, five engines will be available, but there is only the 2.2 CRDI diesel offered in the UK. Expected to produce around 200bhp and 325 lb ft of torque, it should provide the big Sorento with a decent turn of pace, offering 0-60mph in about nine seconds and an expected top speed of 125mph.
The oil-burner has a new cover for the diesel particulate filter and timing chain to cut out further decibels from penetrating the seven-seat cabin. Depending on speed, ambient drone within the cabin is claimed to be between three and six per cent quieter than the old Sorento. Power outputs and efficiency claims for each specific engine are yet to be outlined.
To improve the Sorento’s driving dynamics, Kia has relocated the electric power steering system motor to the steering rack itself, rather than the steering column. This is a mature other manufacturers have employed to reduce steering kickback and make electric power assistance feel more natural in its feedback. Meanwhile, the suspension’s shock absorbers are now mounted vertically, which should afford the 2014 Sorento greater body control and an improved resistance to body roll.
B-road chuckability is hardly likely to be a Sorento strong suit, but plenty of kit likely will be. New to this Sorento is a 360-degree view parking monitor, an automatic electric tailgate which ‘knows’ to open as you approach the car with the key, and remote one-lever folding for the rearmost seats in the seven-seat versions. A five-seater will also be offered.
Practicality hasn’t taken a back seat with the new sleeker 7-seater design. This Sorento is 95mm longer than the Mk2 car at 4,780mm, with most of that growth contained within a wheelbase that is 80mm up at 2,780mm. This produces more space for occupants in all of the Sorento’s three rows of seating. The car is also 15mm lower now with the overall height down to 1,685mm.
The new Kia Sorento takes its visual cues from the Kia Cross GT concept car that arrived at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Its elongated bonnet and wide D-pillars are carried over from the current Mk2 Sorento but the new car gains an enlarged grille and headlamps that sweep back into the wings for a more dynamic look.