Kia is on a mission. A few years ago, it was just another car maker from south-east Asia. Now it’s a Korean powerhouse, determined to take over your life alongside Samsung and LG.
So would you buy one? The cars are good. The Sportage SUV is stylish, the Picanto fun, the Optima is surprisingly posh and, despite the silly name, the Pro_cee’d GT makes much of the competition look old-fashioned.
But can you desire a Kia? Enter the brand’s new top-of-the-range monster, it’s mega-SUV, the Sorento.
Sorento? I recognise that.
You should. The name’s been around for 12 years, but it’s been applied to an also-ran SUV, a forgettable lump of metal just doing the rounds. But now there’s a whole new kind of Sorento.
Jeez, that’s one big mother.
It is – almost five metres long. It’s a big, imposing, top-rank SUV that’s wanting to muscle in on the space that Land Rover’s Discovery has staked out. It’s even challenging Audi’s Q7.
Hang on, you just said Audi.
Yes, we did. But here’s the thing – the space between a Kia and an Audi is now hard to define. It’s a bit like Aldi doing lobster for a tenner. This new Sorento has a bold, modern presence, it clicks and clunks in all the right ways, it rolls beautifully, absorbs all the bumps, has lashings of leather and has tons of toys. What’s not to like?
Are you saying it’s a luxury car?
Well, what is posh these days? This Kia Sorento feels like a luxury car wherever you cruise in it and it’s a cracking beast to look at. If we were to put an Audi badge on the front would you like it more?
So, is it upmarket inside?
It feels good, very good. All the bells and whistles you’d want are here, there’s loads of leather and soft-touch materials, perfectly weighted buttons and sticks. The Sorento is a bloody lovely car and you’ll get all that bloody lovely for about £15,000 less than a Q7 at every point in the range.
What is this range you speak of?
There are four trims – from KX-1 to KX-4. The KX-1 is the basic spec and starts at about £29k. The KX-4, the tech-loaded one, is just over £40k – new territory for Kia in the poshness stakes. All are four-wheel drive but we wouldn’t take any of them off road, really. But then we wouldn’t confidently take an Audi Q7 off road either.
And a baffling array of engines?
No. There is only one engine, the 2.2-litre turbo diesel. This will drag you along at a fair old lick and it’s modern enough to go easy on the fuel, too. The KX-1 is manual-only, while the KX-2 and KX-3 can have either manual or auto. The KX-4 is auto-only.
What’s everyone going to think?
Well, the significant female in your life is going to think you have a bloody posh, bloody big car, so that’s all right. Your mates will think you drive a Kia. But they’ll be happy it has seven seats – there are two that flip up in the boot on all models. If you do buy a Sorento new, however, you’ll get a warranty that extends to a whopping seven years. That’s 84 months without having to worry about anything going wrong. That’s how confident Kia is in its car. Still want that Audi?
Big cars, little prices? Step this way, gentlemen…
Virtually indestructible, the ’90s Shogun is every 4x4 you’ll ever need, all for under £1,000. It could tow a whale. Just don’t expect luxury.
Can’t do this for peanuts, but cars with more than 100,000 miles are dipping below £12k. But remember, in all conscience, it’s actually too big for UK roads.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Although it drives like piloting a boat, and has a plastic take on luxury, it’s an actual 4.0-litre Jeep (with much miles) for sub-£2k.
If you care nothing for brand, nab yourself a SsangYong. A 10-year-old, tidy-looking one with high miles costs under £3k.