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Korean Giant Kia's Sorento is the ultimate seven-seat SUV as it comes of age with some hi-tech changes

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Kia Sorento 2021

Kia Sorento 2021

Bigger and better...the Sorento's boot is enormous

Bigger and better...the Sorento's boot is enormous

The slick interior

The slick interior

The slick new Kia logo

The slick new Kia logo

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Kia Sorento 2021

ANOTHER year, another lockdown and I'm stuck in 'Sorento' since December 14 last year, where I will remain until the Irish government opens up the country again.

Unfortunately, I am not talking about the picturesque town in southwestern Italy that faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula - I am talking about the new Kia Sorento that has been one of my only little rays of sunshine during a dark and dreary December.

They say if you want to get to know someone, you should live with them first and that's exactly what I have done with the new Kia Sorento over the past few weeks. This is one spacious SUV that I certainly wouldn't mind living with on a permanent basis.

I'm so impressed with the new Kia Sorento that I may have shot myself in the foot by not including it in my top five cars of the year when I named them back in December.

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Bigger and better...the Sorento's boot is enormous

Bigger and better...the Sorento's boot is enormous

Bigger and better...the Sorento's boot is enormous

It would have definitely gone neck-and-neck with the VW ID.3 in my eyes for my top gong but, unfortunately, it arrived a week too late.

To put it somewhat into perspective, it is such an impressive-looking beast that the driver of a BMW X5 waited for me to come out from my local store to enquire about it.

Admitting he had been somewhat of a 'badge snob' when he purchased his X5 at the time, he seemed as impressed as I am and was amazed at the quality and build of the new Sorento that he admitted would cost 'half the price' of his premium SUV.

On the outside, the new Kia Sorento has truly come of age.

There is no doubt that its new muscular looks have been inspired by some of the massive SUVs on the American market, which is not a bad thing.

The enormous front grille is the first thing that catches your eye from the moment you see it in the flesh and, although it remains the same length as its predecessor, it just looks bigger from every angle due to its sharp new lines.

But it is on the inside where Kia has really upped the ante. I couldn't believe the technology on board - advanced new materials I have never seen before - that would put any premium SUV to shame.

The attractive, upscale cabin introduces a sophisticated next-generation design, based around twin digital displays in the dashboard.

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The slick interior

The slick interior

The slick interior

The 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster is twinned with a 10.25-inch touch-screen infotainment and navigation system at the centre of the dashboard.

One of the highlights for me on the twin digital display is that when you indicate to turn, the speedometer/rev counter turns into a blind-spot camera giving you a clear view if there are cars or cyclists behind. Beats any rear or side-view mirrors.

Elsewhere, my test model came with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel - a blessing during the recent cold snap.

On the road, for such a big bus the new Kia Sorento handles superbly. Kia has really improved the handling of its models in recent years, possibly down to the big-name signing of engineer Albert Biermann from BMW's M-Sport division.

My test car was fitted with the powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine; however, there's a plug-in hybrid version literally arriving on our shores as I write.

The new Sorento is available in two trim levels - K3 and K4 with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both models are only available in front-wheel drive; however, the plug-in hybrid will come with all-wheel drive as standard.

The K3 2.2D model comes with the following equipment as standard: 18-inch alloys, 10.25-inch navigation screen with telematics, rear-view camera, 12.3-inch TFT monitor, leather upholstery with heated front seats and charge ports on all three rows of seats.

Prices for the K3 start at €49,800.

The K4 model adds more comfort and safety features, including panoramic sunroof, driver and passenger power seats, 12-speaker Bose sound system, rear heated seats, power opening/adjustable tailgate, blind-view monitor, around-view monitor and parking collision avoidance. Prices for the K4 model start at €54,500.

The PHEV will be available in the same trim levels when it arrives soon.

Meanwhile, Kia has this week revealed its new corporate logo and global brand slogan that signify the automaker's bold transformation and all-new brand purpose.

Sunday World


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