Monday 22 January 2018

Why I'm rowing in behind the spacious Sorento

I don't have young ones to put in the third (small) row of seats in big motors like this any more. God be with the days. Sigh. I did have a couple of twenty-somethings to occupy the middle row of seats now and again. Good fun. Plenty of chat.

And I had a lot of company up front as we made a couple of trips to the midlands. Plenty of chat then too. And I drove a fair bit on my own. Which is when I realised how blinking big this overhauled Sorento really is.

This first cousin of the Hyundai Santa Fe doesn't look nearly as large on the outside, but when you look around inside I'd say now it is nearly too big. To be honest, I don't know about seven-seaters in SUVs any more.

There was a time I thought them the greatest thing since Fine Gael's 1970s election manifesto. Now I'm not so sure (about either).

Anyway this much fresher looking Sorento has permanent on-demand four-wheel drive and Kia are trumpeting that as a big thing to have on your car. Funny, really, because it bucks the more recent trend of these SUVs having only two-wheel 'tarmac' drive.

It is, I suppose, never any harm to have the 4WD because you are always grateful for a bit more grip and traction. Most of the time, all the pulling power (and there's a lot) is pumped through the front wheels, but on the likes of some slippery back roads we traversed, the rear wheels get proportionately more if either or both front ones lose grip. There is a sense of security in knowing that.

This is a comfortable motor to cover the kilometres with and now has a far 'greener' engine (171g/km to 155g/km) which takes the road tax down to €390.

Frankly, I'd rather have a suspension more tuned to our roads. Even though there is a stronger body shell, the handling felt loose at times and there was some body roll. Put it this way, I'd have driven a bit easier if the third row had been occupied.

Against that, the amount of space meant the big broad seats up front made us feel like we were travelling in real style.

And you can conjure loads of luggage room when you turn down the third row of seats and even more when the second is folded.

In fairness, that engine makes for a sprightly drive on the motorway – 197bhp is a fair whack of power.

And so long as you don't push it too hard into bends and corners, this is one comfortable mode of transport – no matter what row you are in.

Irish Independent

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