Seoul, South Korea - The third-generation Kia Sorento, unveiled in its home market this week ahead of its European debut at the Paris motor show on Thursday 2 October, shows a sleeker profile, with long, wrap-around headlights, more prominent foglights and a larger, more upright 'tiger-nose' grille, in a distinctive three-dimensional diamond pattern, first seen on the 2013 Kia Cross GT concept.
The Sorento's signature long bonnet and wide D pillar remain but the roofline is lower, the beltline higher and the shape more swept back than its predecessor; it's also 95mm longer at 4780mm on a 2780mm (80mm longer) wheelbase and 5mm wider at 1890mm, as well as 15mm lower at 1685mm.
The exterior styling was led by Kia's Namyang studio in Korea, inspired by the keyword 'Streetwolf' (honest - we couldn't make this stuff up!) but the interior was designed by the European design team in Frankfurt, on the premise 'modern and wide', with emphasis on the horizontal elements, using lots of soft-touch plastic and leather finishes.
The interior trim will be available in either plain black or black and tan, in either cloth or leather, with brown or light grey leather trim as options.
Most of the extra wheelbase has gone into the cabin; the seat squabs have been lowered for extra headroom and the cargo bay floor is also 87mm longer, increasing luggage capacity (with the third row of seats folded from 515 to 605 litres - not including the new Sorento's under-floor tonneau cover storage compartment.
The new Sorento will be available in five or seven-seat versions; in either case the second row will split 40:20:40, with 'remote folding' 'remote folding' controlled by two levers in the side of the cargo bay on seven-seat derivatives.
These, depending on the market, will include an around-view monitor with four cameras to help you park, and 'smart' tailgate that opens automatically when the key is 'sensed' close by, so you can slide your shopping bags or heavy objects straight into the boot.
Also available in some markets will be adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, front collision alert, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and a speed-limit warning function that reads road signs and displays the speed limit for the road you're on, in the instrument cluster.
Five engines will be available in the new Sorento, depending on the market, ranging from 127 to 200kW, including a 2.4-litre direct-injection petrol engine, 2.4 and 3.3-litre multipoint fuel-injection petrol engines, and revised two-litre and 2.2-litre turbo-diesels.
The suspension retains the architecture of the previous model - Macpherson struts at the front and Kia's own multi-link system at the rear but with a new electric power-steering system mounted directly on the steering rack rather than on the column, for better feel and quicker response.
The rear subframe supporting the suspension has larger bushings to better isolate it from the cabin and the bigger dampers, now mounted vertically behind the axle line to make their action more linear.
The third-generation Sorento is scheduled for South African release in the first quarter of 2015. Final specifications and prices for SA-market models will be announced closer to the time.