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All-round upgrade for Kia's Sorento

The new Kia Sorento that you see here doesn't look very different at face value, but Kia assures us that a lot has gone on behind the scenes and beneath the surface, including revised styling, upgraded mechanicals as well as some new high-tech features.

Although the body shell has been reengineered, the basic shape remains as before. Even the front end retains a familiar appearance, albeit there is a new grille, headlights and a bolder bumper. The familiar shape is perked up by new alloy wheels (18" on the front-wheel drive model and 19" on the AWD) while a new tailgate and reshaped taillights give the rear end a sleeker appearance.

There's no pleading poverty inside the new AWD Sorento, which gains more soft-touch surfaces and an eight-inch interface screen. Buyers can also opt for a panoramic sunroof.

All versions of the Sorento come with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, black leather trim and a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

Over and above that, the AWD gains seat heating and ventilation up front, rear-view camera, and a start button.

A more practical interior is the result of Kia having lowered the ride height to improve access and they've lowered the cabin floor to improve legroom.

As for the driving experience, engineers have taken many steps to reduce noise, vibration and harshness and brand new suspension subframes, new shocks and revised mounting bushes are in place to improve the ride quality and road holding.

What's more, the driver can now use the new FlexSteer system to choose between three different steering assistance modes - Comfort, Normal and Sport.

The Sorento's 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine has been carried over, although a new exhaust gas recirculation system reduces CO2 emissions.

The common-rail motor is good for 147kW at 3800rpm and 436Nm from 1800rpm. If you really want to leap off the mark, you should get to 100km/h in 9.9 seconds, according to Kia.

As mentioned, the Sorento is available in front-wheel drive and permanent all-wheel drive. In both cases, power is channelled through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Expect the FWD model to set you back R399 995 and the AWD R479 995.

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