Sporty image for new

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento, 2018, front
Kia Sorento, 2018, side
Kia Sorento, 2018, rear
Kia Sorento, 2018, interior
Kia Sorento, 2018, seats
Kia Sorento, 2018, display screen
Kia Sorento, 2018, boot
Kia Sorento, 2018, steering wheel
Kia Sorento, 2018, rear seats
Kia Sorento, 2018, rear, action
Kia Sorento, 2018, cabin
Kia Sorento, 2018, boot, max

IT'S impossible to ignore a good bargain.

Whether it's the currently fashionable bogof (‘buy one and get one free') supermarket slogan or simply getting more bangs for your buck...human nature dictates the attraction of a good deal.

This is where Kia comes in with its latest Sorento, a big family-sized SUV with the option of three rows of seats to carry seven passengers.

The imposing, high standing crossover bears a price tag of less than £30,000 which is cheaper than some compact SUVs.

In its latest form, the South Korean maker has endeavoured to lift the cabin quality, boost the refinement and catapult it into a higher social class so it genuinely competes with prestige models like the Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5 and Land Rover Discovery, without the burden of a £40k-plus purchase price.

If you are a bit surprised about the name Kia being used in the same breath as the likes of Audi...don't be. Kia's overlord of design is Peter Schreyer who previously held the top design post at Audi and knows a bit about style and class.

The new cabin is one of the highlights of the latest Sorento. Cleanly styled, with an eight inch touchscreen at the centre, the facia is covered with soft touch high grade plastic that's friendly to the touch. Switches feel pleasantly solid and are sensibly grouped and there's piano black trim and satin chrome to lift proceedings further.

It's a classy and comfortable environment with large, comfortable seats.

A sporty accent comes with two new versions - the GT-Line and the GT-Line S, priced at £36,495 and £41,995.

Both models have 19-inch five-spoke alloys, stainless steel side-steps, red brake callipers and twin exhausts.

The GT-Line has projection headlights, while the S version gets LED headlights with bending function. Inside there are black leather seats with grey stitching and perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel.

All seven versions of the Sorento share the same 2.2-litre, 197bhp engine, but there's a choice between six-speed manual and new eight -speed automatic gearboxes. There's a slight economy penalty with the auto which is about 3mpg more thirsty than the manual and this is reflected in emissions - 149g/km for the six-speed and 170g/km for the auto eight-speed.

Noticeable strides forward have been made in comfort and handling. Over windy roads, the new models are more composed and settled with little body roll and disruption caused by directional changes.

The engine sounds a tad gruff when revved but quietens down at cruising speeds. Many buyers will, no doubt, find that the automatic gearbox suits the relaxed character of the Sorento. It was good to see it gets as standard steering wheel paddles, allowing the driver greater control.

Acceleration is strong enough with 62mph coming up in a respectable nine seconds and a top speed of 127mph.

'Dynamax' intelligent four wheel drive monitors conditions and anticipates when all wheel drive is required. Over icy Buckinghamshire roads, the system appeared to work perfectly.

Luggage space, as well as passenger room, is abundant within the sizeable cabin. With five onboard, there's room for 605 litres of cargo and by folding the second and third rows this grows to 1662 litres. Even with all three rows in use, 142 litres remains for bags.

The latest changes to the Sorento help the big SUV get within close range of its prestigious rivals and allow it still to retain its price advantage.

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