2006 Kia Sorento

The revised version of Kia’s multi-award-winning flagship 4×4, the Sorento, today makes its first UK appearance at the British International Motor Show at ExCeL in London.

It stars alongside the all-new Sedona and Carens, the latter also appearing in the UK for the first time, on a stand which showcases Kia’s growing expertise with SUVs and MPVs.

The Sorento, which has just clinched a second successive top spot in the 4×4 category of the J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction survey to add to its Towcar of the Year 2006 award from the Caravan Club, now offers more of everything.

Both the 2.5-litre turbodiesel (VGT) and 3.3-litre petrol engines deliver improved performance; suspension modifications provide a better balance of ride and handling; safety is enhanced with state-of-the-art accident-avoidance features; there is a contemporary new look; more luxury car options become available; and there are smarter trim materials in a higher-quality cabin.

Yet prices will remain competitive and Kia has realigned its existing trim levels XE, XS and top spec XT to offer improved value-for-money.

The Sorento was Kia’s first foray into the high-end SUV market. Designed with European input and with European buyers in mind, it has been a huge success. Sales in the UK were up by 10% in 2005 – more than double the average for the SUV sector.

The revised model uses the same body panels as the original car, but new front and rear bumpers, grille projection-style headlamps, tail lights and body mouldings give it a more elegant and modern appearance while increasing the overall length by just 20mm.

With diesel models and fleet orders accounting for an ever-increasing percentage of sales, the revisions to Kia’s acclaimed 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve common-rail engine create scope for improved market penetration. Now fitted with an electrically-actuated variable geometry turbocharger for even more flexible performance, the engine gains 21% more power (now 168bhp) and 25% more torque (392Nm at just 2000rpm).This helps reduce the 0-60mph time by 1.7 seconds while the improvement on power has minimal impact on combined fuel consumption at 35.8mpg. The engine now meets Euro IV emissions standards.

The 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine gains an extra 48bhp plus a modest torque increase, trimming its 0-60mph time to 8.9 seconds while cutting fuel consumption. Figures have still to be ratified.

The diesel is available with five-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, while the V6 is sold as an automatic only. Higher top gear ratios in both gearboxes reduce fuel consumption when cruising at motorway speeds, and the automatic now features Kia’s Sports Mode, allowing manual override of gear changes.

The ladder-frame chassis and dual-frame body construction of the original Sorento have earned praise since launch, but for 2006 Kia has retuned the springs and dampers of the fully-independent suspension to give a smoother ride.

The Sorento continues to be available with part-time or full-time four-wheel drive systems.

For increased occupant safety, ESP stability control, active head restraints, front seat-belt pretensioners and a passenger airbag cut-off switch will become available. ESP automatically corrects potential skids by braking one or more wheels and/or reducing engine power, while active head restraints protect against whiplash injury. An audible reversing aid is also now offered to help reduce the risk of parking knocks.  Twin front and full-length curtain airbags are standard.

The quality of the interior has been improved through a new centre stack and floor console, a neater control layout and higher-quality materials. As well as the current grey interior available on XE and XS there will be a new premium black leather and wood effect trim available on the Sorento XT.

The centre stack now houses dual-zone air conditioning, a new double-DIN JVC CD player with MP3 compatibility stereo system and a trip computer.

Reshaped backrests on the front seats and multi-adjustable rear backrests increase legroom and comfort for passengers travelling in the rear.

The 2.5 litre CRDi VGT will be available late summer and the 3.3 litre V6 available at the end of 2006.