Why the £54,000 Kia is still good value

So, it’s £54,000. Not for a BMW, Audi or a Mercedes-Benz but a Kia. You know, the humble brand that entered our consciousness a couple of decades ago with cut-price cars.

Well, Sorento is now the Kia flagship. And despite the high price, it’s my favourite Kia. Sportage used to be – and may well be again once I’ve grown accustomed to the strange snout it now has.

There is no getting away from the fact that Sorento is expensive but it is a brilliant car. And believe me, it is value for money when you compare it with other premium products Germany and Jaguar.

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It is a ground-breaking machine and is exceptionally well equipped. Will it look as polished as an equivalent Audi in the company car park? It’s down to opinion but I think so.

So, what is Sorento? It’s a five-seater luxury SUV which converts to a seven-seater by deploying a couple of well-concealed seats in the boot.

This is the first time that a plug-in hybrid powertrain has been available in the Sorento and it comes in three high-specification versions – 2, 3 and a flagship 4 model. The range starts at around £40,000 but tested here is a well-equipped 4 with a 1.6 litre petrol engine allied to a 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. Use it right and you could drive electric permanently. It has an all-electric range of up to 35 miles, and up to 43 miles in city driving.

The emissions as low as 38g/km, no matter which equipment level you select and it is capable of 176.6mpg on the combined economy cycle. No matter how often I hear such figures, they blow my mind.

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But it is the specification list which most impresses. There is a camera which deploys when you indicate. One of the dials on the dash becomes a screen and it shows a back view so you don’t inadvertently pull out when someone is overtaking. It’s a fabulous safety tool.

It is a longer car than previous generations of Sorento and it has improved legroom in the first and second rows. And it has some nice touches such as the rear window wiper which is cleverly hidden within the rear spoiler and fine tuning of the aerodynamics underneath the car reduces road and wind noise.

It has a digital cockpit fitted as standard on all versions with a large 10.25in touchscreen on ‘3’ and ‘4’ models. Exclusive to the Sorento, BOSE premium audio system with 12 speakers, external amplifier, and sub-woofer on ‘4’ versions,

There is a high quality finish with a mix of sophisticated metal textures and natural materials. It has an interesting and tactile three-dimensional door and dashboard trim, emphasised by mood lighting.

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The rotary dial gear selector is odd to look at first but it delivers hi-tech appearance and is very easy to use.

It has a raft of features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with new junction detection, as well as city, pedestrian, and cyclist detection.

The added 8.5in head-up display on 4 models helps drivers keep their eyes on the road ahead. It also has larger brakes for enhanced performance, new motor on calliper design for electric park brake, and revised electronic stability control system.

It has a new Terrain Mode which gives a choice between three types of surface (mud, snow, sand) for better traction in slippery and challenging road and off-road conditions.

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There is also a self-levelling rear suspension standard on 3 and 4 versions.

The Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) fitted to 4 version prevents the vehicle from colliding with pedestrians or obstacles when entering or exiting a parking space.

It has a number of other safety features too such as Multi-Collision Brake Assist (MCBA), Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW) all fitted as standard.

And Highway Driving Assist (HDA) simplifies motorway driving, controlling the steering, throttle and brakes to maintain a safe speed or distance from the car in front.

Is this the best Kia ever? I believe it is.

Kia Sorento 4 1.6 PHEV T-GDi auto

Price: £54,105 on the road

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Engine: A 1,598cc four cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sequential option

Power: 261bhp

Performance: Top speed 119mph, 0 to 60moh in 8.4 seconds

Economy: all electric range 35 miles. 176.6mpg on a combined route

Emissions: 38g/km

Warranty: Seven years, 100,000 miles

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