Sorento Set To Take Prestige 4x4 Market By Storm - Styled For The European Customer | Part Two

Sorento represents a new level of international integration for Kia with components and expertise sourced from top automotive names around the world. The list includes suspension tuning by Porsche, four-wheel drive system components from Borg Warner (manufactured in South Wales), shock absorbers and self-levelling suspension from Sachs, ABS and fuel injection systems from Bosch, and air-bag technology from Autoliv.

The Sorento was styled with the sophisticated European consumer in mind and marks Kia’s first foray into the prestige 4x4 market in Europe. Consumer clinics conducted, prior to the launch in Europe, indicated that the Sorento would compete successfully in terms of interior and exterior design compared to the best cars in the segment. The fact that in European countries prestige badge 4x4 cars have been traded-in for Sorento confirms these earlier research findings.

Kia believes that customers in the UK for Sorento will be conquested from a wide variety of cars and not just other 4x4s. The car will either be a second car in a household that probably has a premium badged first car, or be the principle car in the household where the premium looks of the car and high specification will be the prime motivators. Sorento is expected to generate broad middle market appeal for a vehicle of its type and only be dismissed by prestige ‘brand sheep’.

The Sorento’s spacious interior will seat five adults comfortably. In the front seats, passengers have 1,496 mm of shoulder space, 1,082 mm of effective leg room, 1,404 mm of hip space and 972 mm of head room. Rear seat passengers enjoy 1,484 mm of shoulder space, 916 mm of effective leg room, 1,472 mm of hip space and 965 mm of head room.

The rear seat comes with a 60:40 split to easily accommodate large cargo items and the entire seat can be folded flat to provide an impressive 1,900 litres of cargo storage. Even with the seats up, the Sorento provides 890 litres of cargo space over and above the storage facilities in the passenger compartment and on the optional roof rack. All cars are fitted with roof rails.

The interior has a refined yet sporty feel, combining ergonomic efficiency with premium comfort and convenience features. The front and rear use high quality materials and are comfortable and spacious for long journeys. Keeping the passenger areas tidy is a whole range of storage areas. The armrests at front and back both contain storage spaces and cup holders prevent spills. More storage trays can be found under the seats and there is further storage room in the large pockets on the back of the front seats. A lockable glove box with a map tray keeps valuable items secure.

Upmarket features include the multimeter in the roof console, which allows selection of ambient temperature, altitude, barometer and compass readings, while the provision of an opening rear window, which can be opened from the key fob, is very useful in tight car parks. Fold flat mirrors (electrically operated on XS) also attest to the practicality and thought that has gone into this off-roader.

The Sorento will initially be available in the UK powered by the 2.5-litre common rail diesel engine with two specification levels: XE & XS. Both are available with manual or automatic transmission.

The XE specification uses a part-time four-wheel drive system with a high level of equipment including driver, passenger and curtain side airbags (covering the front and rear), ABS with EBD, air conditioning, power sunroof, limited slip differential, self levelling suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, roof rails and body side cladding, leather steering wheel and gear knob, remote control locking with key mounted operation for rear tailgate window, in-dashboard CD player with eight speaker audio system and electric aerial, multimeter in roof console providing ambient temperature, altimeter, compass and barometer, electric windows and heated mirrors, rear cargo cover and cargo net.

continues... | Part Three
Published 13 February 2003 Melanie Carter

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