This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
*To read one of our road tests, just select from the menu on the left.
*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
The engine: When we reported on the launch of the completely revised Sorento in December 2009, the only engine available was a new 2,2 litre diesel, with a similarly updated petrol motor due for release last year. We finally got our hands on one.
It's a 3 470 cc, quad-cam, 24-valve V6 with, unusually these days, oversquare bore and stroke dimensions of 92 mm x 87 mm. Power output is 207 kW at 6 300 rpm with maximum torque of 335 Nm occurring at 5 000 rpm. It's a smooth and willing unit without the low-end gutlessness one might expect of an engine that peaks this high. Emissions class is Euro4. The only gearbox available with this engine is Kia's in-house six-speed torque converter automatic, while the default drive setup is on-demand 4x4.
The body: While diesel variants offer a choice of five or seven seats, this top of the range petrol burner comes with seven. It's also the only version offering an optional sunroof should you want one. The Sorento is unashamedly an urban cruiser designed for ferrying kids, groceries and family 'stuff', without real aspirations toward bushwhacking. Left to its own devices on dry asphalt, it will remain in front wheel drive for maximum fuel economy. When things get slippery, power is transferred to a rear wheel as needed. In more stressful situations at speeds below 30 km/h, a switchable central differential lock enables 50:50 torque distribution. DHC keeps speed to no more than 8 km/h for crawling downhill and a button that turns the ESP off when desired, are included. Don't get the idea that we were fibbing and this is actually a serious off-roader though. Ground clearance is only 184 mm, so stay away from the really rough stuff.
Luggage space varies from 258 litres with all seven seats in position to 1047 litres in five-seat mode to 2052 litres when all but the front chairs are folded away. Upholstery is leather, there is a competent music system with USB, iPod and auxiliary connectors, dual zone climate control looks after occupants’ comfort and the usual electronic aids with six air bags play their part in watching over personal safety.
The driver's seat adjusts eight ways and with a steering wheel that adjusts for both height and reach, almost anyone should get comfortable. Head and knee room in the second row is perfectly adequate for taller passengers, while entry and exit is easy thanks to a flat floor and enough space for feet under the front seats. There is a tendency, also found on sister car Hyundai iX35, for thighs to get bumped on the way out because of the curve of the wheel arches. Third row seating is mainly for little people. It's accessible when the left chair of the second row is tumbled forward. Just make sure the front passenger seat is not quite all the way back though.
The experience: It drives easily and has plenty of power. While not as panoramic as some cars with bigger windows, visibility is good, making it easy to park. The gearbox works well, changing smoothly and kicking down without drama as needed. Our drive on dirt, after a few days of rain, was decently comfortable and we found that the electronic handling aids work. A patch of soft slush, about the consistency of decent gravy, started us off on a small slide that the electronics corrected before we had time to react.
Price: R385 995
Engine: 3 470 cc quad-cam V6 petrol
Power: 207 kW at 6 300 rpm
Torque: 335 Nm at 5 000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h (claimed): 8,1 seconds
Maximum speed (claimed): 190 km/h
Real life fuel consumption on test: 11,6 l/100 km
Tank: 70 litres
Ground clearance: 184 mm
Approach/departure/rampover angles: 25,1/23,1/17,1 degrees
Towing capacity (braked): 2 000 kg
Warranty and Maintenance plan: Both 5 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: 15 000 km
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously.