If you were to come up with a template for sluggish performance, the Sorento would appear perfect: a seven-seat SUV with a small diesel engine and an automatic gearbox built by Kia. And you’ve no idea how wrong you’d be.
The entry-level engine in the Sorento range is the company’s 148bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which comes with a six-speed manual as standard and can only be had in base trim, with five seats and front-wheel drive. The high-tech 2.2-litre motor that provides the power in the range-topping car is the only other motor on offer, and can also be had in front-wheel drive at the cheaper end of the lineup.
It’s an impressive motor that packs 194bhp – more than the 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine that powers the Toyota Land Cruiser. But quite astonishingly, this engine also offers more torque than the Toyota: a solid 311lb ft wall way down at 1800rpm.
Not only does the hi-tech 2.2-litre diesel engine have strong power and torque, it interacts smartly and cohesively with the new six-speed gearbox, with the whole package aided by a car weighing a relatively modest 1960kg, or, to put it another way, nearly half a tonne lighter than the less powerful Land Cruiser.