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First Drive: Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S

Kia’s big SUV gets a new look and keener drive – has it worked? Martyn Collins isn’t sure.

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SECTOR SUV   PRICE TBC   FUEL 47.1-50.4mpg   CO2 149-159g/km

Sales of SUVs are showing no sign of slowing down and perhaps feeling the heat from more modern rivals, such as the recently launched Land Rover Discovery and Skoda Kodiaq, Kia has rolled out a mid-life facelift for its biggest seven-seater SUV – the Sorento.

Demand for the outgoing car had been weighted towards higher trim levels, so that’s a focus here. Replacing the KX-4, this brand new range-topping GT-Line S injects a sportier look that includes the distinctive four-lamp LED fog lights, red painted brake calipers and side steps. All versions get revised bumpers, grille, LED head and tail lights, plus new alloy wheel designs. Inside, the changes to the quality feel of the Sorento’s interior are harder to spot, limited to a new multi-function steering wheel and the latest 8.0-inch infotainment system.

However, the facelift isn’t all about looks. This Sorento might have retained the 197bhp 2.2-litre CRDi diesel used in the outgoing version, but the eight-speed transmission used here is a first for this Kia and results in a positive effect on CO2 emissions, dropping from 172g/km to a more fleet-friendly 159g/km. Kia doesn’t offer two-wheel drive in the Sorento, but manual versions come in at 149g/km.

Despite its snazzy makeover, the latest Sorento isn’t a sporty drive, but the gearbox is slicker and quicker than before. Plus you can appreciate the handling, steering and ride changes made by Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW’s M Division, now tasked with adding a little driver involvement into Hyundai and Kia’s latest models.

There’s more feel to the steering, plus the ride and handling on our test route was tauter. Sadly, the changes aren’t all good news, as that added driver appeal has come at the expense of some of the ride comfort, which is at best unsettled. It will be interesting to see how the Sorento deals with UK roads when it arrives in early 2018.

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Martyn Collins

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