Head start for new Sorento

Head start for new Sorento

Kia Motors New Zealand has managed to make a big start to sales of its new Sorento, amassing a sizeable order book before the official launch.

The company hit a target of preselling 100 Sorento, putting them 20% of the way to fulfilling their plans to sell 500 for the 2015 year.

Part of that target will be powered by a new model for the range, a 3.3-litre V6, in front wheel drive only, that has Kia Motors New Zealand general manager Todd McDonald excited, and expecting volume of around 150.

“Traditionally, large SUVs have been powered by diesel engines and the Sorento was no different, but we have identified a market for a V6 engine and Kia has responded by introducing a 3.3-litre model with luxury Limited specification at a very competitive price to satisfy that demand,” says McDonald.

“The new Sorento really delivers what New Zealanders are wanting – in style, interior fit and finish and performance,” he says.

“The demand for large SUVs continues to grow,” McDonald say. “And Kia NZ wants to target this.”

Who is buying theses vehicles and why?

McDonald says they are white-collar workers, 30 to 60. They want comfort and features, and a vehicle that will tie into their active lifestyle. It is also about image.

“They provide a little bit of social positioning.”

Kia says the model is new from the ground up, aside from drivetrains, and is meant to look and feel more premium.

The Sorento is longer, by a sizeable 95mm, wider, by 5mm, and lower by 15mm. All importantly, wheelbase is up 80mm, increasing usable legroom, particularly in the third row.

McDonald says these have gone from being child-sized to small-adult sized. A new 40/20/40 sliding second row seat also helps improve access. The seats are standard across the range.

A new flat underside – which also sees the transmission tunnel disappear from the interior – has helped reduce drag.

Another cleaver engineering feature is new doors that overlap the sills significantly, allowing additional door sealing – and reducing the space passengers need to step over when entering and exiting the vehicle by around 100mm.

Also new is Advanced Traction Cornering Control System, an addition to the electronic stability control, that can brake and put power to rear wheels in a bid to reduce understeer.

A new electric tailgate on upper models opens if they operator stands close for three seconds.

The range starts with the LX 2.4-litre petrol, moving to the EX, a Limited and Premium specification. Although, as McDonald is keen to point out, the EX is specified to a similar level as the previous Limited.

Pricing starts with the LX petrol at $49,990, with diesel adding $6000. The Limited V6 is $60,990.

The EX diesel is $61,990, Limited diesel $67,990 and Premium diesel $70,990.

Satellite navigation, including a 3-year free map update, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitor and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard. The LX gets 17-inch alloys, while the rest of the range get 19-inch wheels in two designs.

The Limited adds such touches as heated and cooled seats, heated 2nd row seats, HID Xenon headlights, electric lumber and seat extension and an enhanced LCD dash.

The Premium brings on a panoramic roof, adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control amongst other features.

Engine options include the 126kW 2.4-litre petrol unit, a revised 147kW 2.2-litre R-series diesel and the new 199kW 3.3-litre V6 petrol; all three engines are matched to a six-speed, sequential shift automatic transmission. The two carry over engines have been tweaked, and step up to Euro 5.

The lineup is Euro NCAP 5-star rated, and while the safety list is extensive, intelligent driver assist systems are missing, even basic items such has blind spot detection.

McDonald told AutoTalk the features were on the cards – they are available in Korea and other selected markets – but were not available yet and will be likely left to the next model update.

AutoTalk had the chance to drive the Sorento – an EX diesel on 22-inch optional wheels and a Premium model on standard 19 inch wheels – South of Auckland this week.

Over the old model, driving position and seat comfort is hugely improved, with the position lower, and significantly more headroom.

The Sorento handles very car-like, surprisingly flat for a large, raised vehicle. Steering is light but responsive. The R-Series diesel is very quiet in the new model and still a brisk performer.

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