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Facelifted Kia Sorento to retain engine line-up

Same but different: Kia’s Sorento facelift is more than skin deep as behind the subtly updated styling are all-new underpinnings.

Kia mulling punchier 2.4 petrol for facelifted Sorento but will keep diesel and V6

8 Aug 2012

KIA has confirmed its updated Sorento seven-seat SUV will continue with the current model’s 2.2-litre diesel and 3.5-litre V6 petrol engines when it launches in Australia in October.

But we understand that the South Korean car-maker has given itself the option of reinstating the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which was dropped from the Australian Sorento line-up in April.

Documents viewed by GoAuto show the four-cylinder petrol Sorento’s power output has increased 13kW to 141kW, suggesting it has adopted the Optima sedan’s direct fuel injection.

In addition, rather than being a front-drive entry variant, it appears the new 2.4 will also be available with all-wheel-drive, meaning Kia could choose to introduce it as a premium engine choice.

Kia Motors Australia national public relations manager Kevin Hepworth confirmed to GoAuto the 145kW 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and 204kW V6 petrol will continue under the bonnet of the facelifted Sorento from launch.

He said the V6 would continue to be front-wheel drive and the diesel all-wheel drive, but could not confirm whether the 2.4-litre petrol engine would make a comeback.

17 center imageFrom top: 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Mr Hepworth said diesel Sorentos outsell petrol variants almost two to one, with the Platinum flagship model ($49,190 plus on-road costs) the most popular.

“It is nice to have your top-end car as your highest seller,” he said.

With 1817 units shifted in Australia to the end of July, Australian Sorento sales are up 37.4 per cent, tracking well against the large SUV segment’s 31.3 per cent growth.

Although the new Sorento’s styling makes it look like a mild mid-life facelift, it is a different story under the skin, where all-new underpinnings are shared with the next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe, due to be launched locally in September, a month before the Sorento.

Kia says the updates will include a more upmarket interior with soft-touch surfaces, eight-inch multimedia display and LCD instruments, while the staggered automatic transmission shift gate will be replaced by a modern straight layout with classy leather gaiter.

A bigger panoramic sunroof will be further enhanced by the removal of the outgoing model’s cross-beam.

Echoing the more aspirational interior, the Sorento’s exterior will gain LED daytime-running lights, re-shaped LED tail-light clusters, new bumpers with more body-coloured areas and a larger range of alloy wheel choices.

Vertical foglights in the front and rear bumpers replace the circular front units and horizontal rear units.

As would be expected from the move to a new vehicle platform, the new Sorento is said to have improved ride, handling and refinement characteristics and Kia Australia says it will apply local ride and handling tweaks, as with its other models.

Official specifications are scarce, but the new Sorento could benefit from the same weight savings as the new Santa Fe, which is claimed to be up to 136kg lighter yet 16 per cent more rigid due to an increased use of high-strength steel.

Kia will be keen to adopt the Santa Fe’s safety technology, which includes a torque vectoring system that improves cornering stability and reduces oversteer or understeer, an airbag for the driver’s knee, a blind-spot monitoring system and a new ‘Blue Link’ telematics system that can alert emergency services in the event of a crash.

The Santa Fe also has a three-mode electric power steering system as seen on the i30, which varies steering weight according to taste and conditions.

Less likely for the Sorento at this stage is the Hyundai’s new 3.3-litre direct-injection petrol V6 engine, which is not yet confirmed for the Australia-bound Santa Fe.

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