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Kia targets 400 monthly sales with new Sorento

Kia’s new Sorento is finally here to take the large SUV game up a peg

10 Sep 2020

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has finally launched its fourth-generation Sorento seven-seat SUV Down Under, with the local subsidiary expecting to shift around 400 units a month – almost double the August turnover rate of the outgoing model.


Speaking to journalists at the digital media launch of the new Sorento earlier this week, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said he was confident the new model would deliver a solid sales increase, the majority of which would be occupied by the higher-grade diesels.


“We’re expecting to do 400 per month of new Sorento and we believe we’ve got the vehicle to do that, and we also believe that the segment will continue to be quite robust,” he said.


“In the initial stages, obviously GT-Line will be very strong in diesel and as time goes on the split will get down to about 65:35 between diesel and petrol and the breakdown between variants will be pretty consistent.”


The reason for the diesel GT-Line’s early dominance is due to the fact the petrol grades will not be arriving in Australia for another month, meaning it will be a case of diesel or nothing for those customers eager to score themselves a new Sorento as soon as possible.


Both the diesel (turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder) and petrol (naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6) engines have been extensively overhauled for the new model, with almost 20kg being shaved from the diesel thanks to a new aluminium block (replacing cast-iron).


Other changes to the oil-burning mill include higher-pressure injectors, new balancer shafts, and a thermal management system, all of which combine to enhance efficiency and cooling.


Peak power and torque is rated at 148kW/440Nm while the V6 engine – which scores a new integrated thermal management system – develops 200kW/332Nm.


Fuel economy for both is rated at 6.1 and 9.7 litres per 100km respectively.


As with the previous model, the diesel variants send their power to all four wheels via a part-time all-wheel-drive system while the petrols are front-wheel-drive only.


Both powerplants utilise eight-speed automatic transmissions to send their power to the ground, however the diesel is paired with a dual-clutch unit as opposed to the torque converter set-up in the petrols.


The reason for this, according to KMAu product planning general manager Roland Rivero, is down to the different markets each powerplant targets.


“Fundamentally, the vehicles are developed for major markets globally,” he said.


“The diesel, the main market it was developed for was the European market and Europe was very big on the dual-clutch transmission to lower emissions and improve fuel economy.


“Petrol variants are predominantly developed for the US market, and they’re quite happy with the torque converter.


“We’re in a lucky, happy median position whereby we can cherry-pick accordingly … we’ve been able to pick up the best of both worlds.”


One key new feature exclusive to the diesel variants is ‘Terrain Mode’ which offers drivers the chance to tell the car what sort of off-road terrain they are on – sand, mud or snow – which adjusts the traction control, all-wheel-drive system, transmission and ECU accordingly.


Compared to the third generation, the new Sorento has risen in price by an average of $2890 across the range while a new mid-range Sport+ has been added to the line-up below the flagship GT-Line.


The entry-level S kicks off the range from $45,850 plus on-road costs while the mid-range Sport and Sport+ start from $48,470 and $52,850 respectively.


The flagship GT-Line can be had from $60,070 while the diesel versions carry a $3000 premium over their respective petrol counterparts.


Beyond the aforementioned engine upgrades, KMAu claims to have found “60 points of improvement” in the new model with the main selling points being its upgraded technology, safety, enhanced packaging, convenience, driveability and comprehensive redesign.


Compared to the old model, the new Sorento is 10mm longer, wider and taller than before and rides on a wheelbase that has been stretched by 35mm thanks to Kia’s new N3 platform.


As a result of the stretched wheelbase, the front and rear overhangs have been shortened, allowing more room to be gained inside the cabin with the biggest gain being an extra 93mm of leg room in the second row.


Boot space meanwhile is up 11 litres to 616L with the third-row seats folded flat, a number that shrinks to 187L with the third row in use, although that figure itself is a 45L improvement over the outgoing model.


Under the skin is a heavily revised independent suspension setup featuring new ZF Sachs shock absorbers while bigger brakes all-round shave 1.2m off the Sorento’s claimed dry stopping distance (now 38.7m).


In developing the new model’s ride and handling characteristics, Mr Rivero said Kia Motor Company (KMC) and KMAu benchmarked more premium vehicles including the Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 as well as direct rivals like the Mazda CX-9.


“These were ambitious targets of course with a couple of them incorporating more upmarket air suspension, but from our perspective, we achieved a pretty good result,” he said.


None of the Sorentos come sparsely equipped in terms of standard kit or safety features, with even the base S trim boasting 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and multi-connection Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and foglights, advanced smart cruise control with manual speed limiter, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, premium steering wheel and embossed cloth-trimmed seats.


Stepping up to the Sport adds bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, a larger 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, satellite navigation with 10-year traffic and map updates, dual-zone climate control, automatic window demister, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat and tyre pressure monitoring system.


Adding a + to the end of the Sport badge meanwhile ups the ante further with 19-inch alloys, leather-appointed seats, smart key with push button start, smart power tailgate with height adjustment, remote engine start, heated front seats and steering wheel, electro-chromatic rearview mirror, rear privacy glass, LED tail-lights, aero blade wipers, heated side mirrors and two rear-seat USB ports.


At the top of the Sorento tree, the GT-Line is in a class of its own, debuting a number of brand and segment firsts.


Standard kit on the flagship variant includes everything already mentioned on the rest of the range, plus 20-inch dark chrome wheels, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, blind-spot monitor, rotary gear selector dial, quilted Nappa leather-appointed seats, interior mood lighting, 12-speaker Bose premium sound system, 8.0-inch colour head up display, surround-view monitor, remote smart parking assist with remote engine-start function, panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charging, heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats, 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, 10-way power-adjustable passenger’s seat, rear occupant alert, second row sunshade and driver talk in-car intercom.


Safety kit across the range is also liberal, with every variant scoring autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection as well as junction assist, multi-collision braking, blind spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, lane following assist, front and rear parking sensors, driver attention alert+ and safe exit assist while the GT-Line again steps things up with parking collision avoidance assist.


Seven colours are being offered in total, six of which – Mineral Blue, Silky Silver, Aurora Black, Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey and Gravity Blue – have been deemed ‘premium’ offerings and cost an extra $695 with ‘Clear White’ being the no-cost, default option.


KMAu has shifted 1860 Sorentos (third-gen) so far this year ending August, accounting for 3.3 per cent of the sub-$70,000 large SUV segment.


By comparison, Hyundai sold 3119 examples of the related Santa Fe (5.5%), Mazda shifted 4203 CX-9s (7.4%) and Toyota moved 6452 Klugers (11.4%).


2020 Kia Sorento pricing*

S (a) $45,850
S CRDi (a) $48,850
Sport (a) $48,470
Sport CRDi (a) $51,470
Sport+ (a) $52,850
Sport+ CRDi (a) $55,850
GT-Line (a) $60,070
GT-Line CRDi (a) $63,070

*Excludes on-road costs

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