Sun, sea and the Kia

Sorento

Kia Sorento, 2018, front
Kia Sorento, 2018, side
Kia Sorento, 2018, rear
Kia Sorento, 2018, interior
Kia Sorento, 2018, boot
Kia Sorento, 2018, rear seats
Kia Sorento, 2018, third row seats
Kia Sorento, 2018, display screen

WE all have our favourite holiday destinations.

Blackpool's glittering Golden Mile, Rhyl Sun Centre or Ffestiniog slate quarries for instance.

Mine is Sorrento, the jewel of the Amalfi coast. Sun, sea and not a lot of sand but handily placed for pilgrimages to the island that inspired the most iconic of all coupes, Capri. That and the nearby Formica, home of the plastic cafe table.

What's not to like? It has style, soul, excellent bars and restaurants as well as cheap limoncello. If you are ever there, book a table at the Foreigners Club. All it lacks on the terrace is some white tuxedos and David Niven.

Had Kia been inspired to name their car after my favourite place and it had turned out to be a right dog I would not have been best pleased.

Granted the first versions were a bit rough around the edges, dull interiors and harsh plastics but the latest Sorento befits its status as Kia's flagship SUV.

And here is why if we focus on the 2.2 CRDi KX-3 Eco Auto.

Just one point, however, Kia chooses to spell the name with just the one R.

The first thing to remember is that this is no longer a cheap car. At £39,625 the KX3 spec - one down from the top - is still value for money and attractive to those who don't have the stomach for a costly Audi Q7 or a Discovery.

The second point to bear in mind is that there is only one engine choice, 1,199cc and 197bhp and a hefty 325lb/ft of torque for hard work with a trailer or caravan.

It's fast enough at 9.0 seconds to 62mph and quiet over long distance work. You really do want the eight-speed automatic gearbox for maximum comfort. A combined 40mpg is well within reach and after the first painful year tax is £140.

Ride quality is noteworthy but like all biggish SUVs it's not the best to throw around and you can manually weight the steering via a selector. For the money there is a high level of top-end kit. The driver's seat is powered and the steering wheel hated while an eight-inch screen carries the entertainment and navigation functions. Entry is keyless and a panoramic sun roof standard as is leather upholstery.

The interior layout is both classy and functional, well up there with the best and a solar system away from what we used to expect from Kia in the olden days. So it you have a badge problem it may be an idea to look at the car objectively.

Switchgear is all to hand and large dial easy to read at a glance.

Take it on moderate tacks and it copes well though it's self-determining all-wheel drive system.

Safety and security includes smart cruise control, cross traffic alert and around view monitoring.

Practicality is beyond doubt.

The tailgate is powered and the middle row of seats slides forwards and backwards. With the rear seats down the capacity is massive, 606-litres, while that row of seats also gets a power sockets and the outer two are headed. Storage space includes two large door bins.

Kia only markets its UK versions with seven seats saying there is less demand in this country for the five seater. Makes sense, you can always keep the last row folded for maximum boot space.

The bay of the Bay of Naples it is more noteworthy for Sophia Loren than Gracie Fields. Similarly this is a good looking premium product, make no mistake about that.

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