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Geneva show: Kia drip-feeds more Sorento info

Kia sheds light on new-generation Sorento’s drivelines, technology and platform

20 Feb 2020

KIA has provided fresh technical details about its fourth-generation Sorento large SUV in the lead-up to its motor show debut in Geneva next month, including the revised diesel engine and new dual-clutch automatic transmission that will make their way to Australia, as well as the hybrid that remains out of reach for now.


The company has also outlined how the boxier-looking new Sorento’s platform architecture has boosted the seven-seater’s interior space while expanding its footprint by just 10mm in length – and storing the battery packs of hybrid variants without harming its family-hauling practicality.


As reported, Kia Motors Australia has confirmed the new Sorento will launch in the second quarter with an upgraded version of the outgoing model’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine and all-wheel-drive, followed by a front-drive petrol V6 option later in the second half.


We now know that peak power output of the new ‘Smartstream’ diesel unit is 149kW (up 2kW), with maximum torque of 440Nm (down 1Nm), and that it will be paired with Kia’s latest eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).


The new cog-swapper has a wet-clutch design claimed to “offer the smooth-shifting characteristics of a conventional automatic while enhancing efficiency over dry-clutch DCTs” and was globally debuted on the fifth-generation Optima sedan that will not come to Australia.


Sister brand Hyundai is also expected to deploy the new transmission under the bonnet of its high-performance N variants of the i30 and Veloster to finally provide the hot hatch, fastback and coupe models with a long-promised automatic option.


It is not yet clear whether the petrol V6 will also come with the dual-clutch automatic, but Kia Australia will not bring the parallel and plug-in hybrids here for the time being as global supplies are prioritised towards markets such as Europe where tough emissions standards are being imposed.


Kia has revealed the parallel hybrid combines a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with a 44.2kW electric motor and 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack for a combined output of 169kW/350Nm.


Other than describing the plug-in hybrid as “powerful”, details of this drivetrain are yet to be disclosed.


A 207kW/421Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine option with eight-speed DCT will also be offered overseas, eclipsing the 206kW/336Nm 3.5-litre V6 fitted to the outgoing model.


The Sorento will be the first Kia to feature a multi-collision brake system similar to that which debuted on the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf in 2012. After a collision in which the airbags are deployed, the technology automatically applies the brakes to prevent the vehicle from rolling onwards into other obstacles.


Also keeping occupants safe will be eight airbags, including between the front seats to help prevent occupants’ heads colliding in a side impact or rollover situation.


Helping prevent minor bingles is a 360-degree camera system that can link with a smartphone so that occupants can “check the vehicle’s surroundings with their smartphone in conjunction with the in-vehicle Surround View Monitor to maximise parking convenience”.


How useful this is, and whether this operates like the app-based Remote View 3D system first introduced on the BMW 5 Series in 2016, remains to be seen.


Under the skin, Kia has extended the new Sorento’s wheelbase by 35mm, to 2815mm, which is claimed to provide “more room than in many other large SUV” and “offer class-leading cargo space”.


“With a compact engine bay structure, shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase, the platform enables the car’s stylish new design and on-road posture, as well as its comfortable ride and satisfying handling traits,” the company said.


Kia likens the importance of this new hybrid-ready platform to the leap from the first-generation Sorento’s body-on-frame construction to the second-generation’s monocoque architecture and that it enables the new model to “set new standards in its segment for space, practicality, efficiency and quality”.


On the hybrid front, Kia says the Sorento’s new platform layout “means the battery pack can be located beneath the passenger cell, with no impact on cabin or luggage space”.


Toyota Australia is likely to lob its fourth-generation Kluger large SUV around the same time as the Sorento, with the popular seven-seater odds-on to be offered with a petrol-electric hybrid option this time around.


With 4385 sales in 2019, popularity of the current Sorento shrank 13.9 per cent last year against a large SUV segment that was down 8.9 per cent overall.


Among the segment’s mix of jacked-up wagons and body-on-frame off-roaders, the big Kia’s closest rivals include the Kluger (11,371 sales, -22.9%), Mazda CX-9 (7168, -11.4%) and CX-8 (2551, +64.6%) and Nissan Pathfinder (2712, -29.1%).

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