Kia's Sorento gets sleek new look
TRENDY, oozing style and typifying the good things in life - that's the Italian town of Sorrento which looks out over the Bay of Naples.
Now after a radical re-design the same description applies to its four-wheel-drive namesake - although it's spelt slightly differently.
The all-new Kia Sorento, which goes on sale on February 1, has been transformed. Out goes the macho Arnold Schwarzenegger image and in comes the sporty, sexy supermodel look.
The car has been totally re-invented with the emphasis on a trendy lifestyle vehicle rather than an out and out off-roader.
Designed in California it's now available with either two or four-wheel-drive so it can still handle tough conditions and is still ideal for towing but now you get an even better on-road experience.
The new model is now very definitely a premium product but without a premium price tag. Take the Kia badge off the front and replace it with an up-market German name and you would have to pay an extra £10,000 for it.
Kia says it makes no apology for the car not being as 'rough and tough' as before as it now has 'urban sophistication'.
Certainly if you opt for the top-of-the-range KX-3 model at £29,795 you get an awful lot of sophistication. A six-speed automatic gearbox, full leather seats, an electric panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable driver's seat and self levelling headlights are just a few of the features on board. Even the mid-range KX-2 at £25,495 comes with full leather.
Despite the new slimmer look the car still has seven seats, although the two rear seats cleverly disappear beneath the floor to create more luggage space when not in use. And by pushing the dashboard further forward and the rear tailgate further backwards there is an increase in the overall space for both passengers and luggage.
In fact if you fold the middle row and rear row of seats down you get a hefty 1525 litres of luggage space, making this SUV a very viable alternative to a much larger MPV. If you leave the middle row of seats in place you still get 531 litres - which is a massive 96 litres more than the previous model.
For buyers who genuinely don't need four-wheel-drive the Sorento is now offered with front-wheel-drive with prices starting from £20,495 for the 2.4-litre petrol model and £22,495 for the 2.2-litre diesel, although the spec on these options is not as luxurious as on the four-wheel-drive models.
The new 2.2-litre diesel engine replaces the larger 2.5-litre used in the previous generation Sorento, and despite being smaller it's quicker, quieter, more fuel efficient and cleaner.
On the road the Sorento is as easy and light to drive as a family hatchback despite its size, which will endear it to a wider range of buyers.
It's quiet, refined, has an distinct up-market quality it and feels anything but bulky to handle.
The new 194bhp diesel engine delivers all the power you need without hesitation and is just as responsive when mated to the six speed manual gearbox or the auto.
It has a top speed of 118 miles per hour and will it 62mph in 9.6 second with the manual gearbox and 10 seconds with the auto box. The two-wheel-drive model is fractionally quicker.
In keeping with its new svelte image the towing capacity is reduced but it can still tow trailers of up to 2,500kg. It's predecessor could tow the maximum allowed by law of 3,500kg.
All Sorentos have six airbags as standard and a brand-leading seven-year warranty.
With such a comprehensive package it looks like the Sorento will have a future ahead of it almost as bright as the Italian sunshine.