Kia’s big deal

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By Nick Jones

By Nick Jones

More than a decade ago Kia, to my recollection, was a brand which had just launched its rugged Sorento.

At the time, every manufacturer had to have a 4x4. It was boom time for off- and soft-roaders.

What the Sorento’s launch meant was that you no longer had to fork out mega-bucks for a big 4x4 - this one did everything necessary and was good value for money.

Now the Sorento has received a makeover to freshen things up and bring it into line with Kia’s vision of the way forward.

The Kia press pack says it’s in fact a CUV (a crossover utility vehicle) cleverly omitting the phrase 4x4 which is so heavily reviled nowadays.

Softer lines it may have but it’s still a big 4x4 even though the ruggedness has somewhat faded now. Iinstead we have gentle, imposing features and quieter engines.

In many respects, the CUV term is loosely used to define a 4x4 that has more on-road ability than off it, if you get my drift, and I think Kia has done this with the Sorento.

For a start, it uses MacPherson struts up front and Multi-link suspension at the back which is always a good combination for decent road manners and, despite its bulk, it sits lower than that of the earlier model (by as much as 5cm) and you can have it as either a two- or four-wheel-drive.

You can also have either a 2.0-litre diesel, which is the one I tested, or a more powerful 2.2-litre diesel which sounds fruity.

Mine produced 148bhp from its four cylinder enginee and has a top speed of 113mph, with 0-60mph taking 10.5 seconds. It produces just 169g/km on the emissions front, and I can achieve around the 41/42 miles to the gallon mark.

Healthy figures indeed then, but the 2.2-litre is better still with upwards of 120mph promised from its 194bhp engine, with similar fuel returns and only an increase of 8g/km on the environmental front.

As mine only had two-wheel drive, it had a six-speed manual gearbox; nothing wrong there but I found the clutch a tad hard and the gearbox not as slick as I would have liked – so may have to go for the automatic should the choice be available.

On the road it’s both quiet and comfortable, the high driving position being a real advantage sight-wise.

The car is now most definitely a seven-seater, with much more room now for kids that want to sit in the third row.

The second row of seats split 60/40 which is good, with the back rests laying almost flat to allow increased carrying capacity.

With the second and third rows of seats down, the Kia offers over 1,500-litres of space, reduced down to 530-litres should you want to use it as a five-seater.

Kia has always been renowned for value for money and it doesn’t disappoint; mine was the entry-level model 2.0-CRDi ‘1’ 2WD still has 17in alloy wheels, front fog lights, air conditioning, CD/radio with six speakers, six airbags, electric windows, etc. And don’t forget that mighty seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.

The price on the road for mine was £23,095 which seems rather low for the amount of CUV you get - it feels rather more than the price tag suggests.

You can pay £32,495 for the all-singing, all-dancing 4x4 version with the more powerful engine and automatic gearbox, mind.

So a large Kia Sorento for £23 grand? Even the cheapest RAV4 costs more, so the Kia clearly has a very good starting point.