Kia Sorento Adventure – Part 1

How well can a spacious Kia Sorento handle the treachery of gravel passes without low-range and on-road biased tyres? Graham Eagle finds out. The post Kia Sorento Adventure – Part 1 appeared first on CAR Magazine.

Kia Sorento Adventure – Part 1

Just how well will an all-wheel drive SUV without low-range, moderate ground clearance and on-road biased tyres cope with the gradients, ruts, and rocky surfaces of two of SA’s High 5 gravel passes? To find out, follow Graham Eagle’s three-part Kia Sorento Adventure which took us over Lundin’s Nek, through the picturesque village of Rhodes, and over the 2 592 m high Naude’s Nek in the Eastern Cape.

As our aircraft descended though yet another early summer La Nina weather front into Bloemfontein, it was clear that there had been plenty of rain in the area, with more forecast over the coming days. Not the best news for our hosts from Kia SA who had been brave enough to put together an adventure designed to challenge the limits of their Sorento SUV – before rain and mud were included in the mix.

Following a short driver briefing, the group of three Sorentos left Bloemfontein and headed southeast towards Zastron, an easy drive which provided the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the vehicles. In my case, this was the flagship SXL variant which adds a Bose surround sound system, head-up display, panoramic roof, and other features, to the already comprehensively equipped SX specification.

Related: Into the details – Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI EX+ AWD DCT 7-Seater

The revised turbodiesel engine was smooth and refined, combining well with the responsive new DCT to provide effortless overtaking. As we’ve come to expect the lack of maintenance of these regional roads provided the opportunity to test the vehicle’s response to short and sharp steering inputs as we dodged potholes while maintaining reasonable progress. The vehicle acquitted itself well, feeling stable and responsive considering it is a two-ton SUV with space for seven.

A few hours into the trip and with lunch now calling, we entered Zastron and headed for the quaint ONS Hotel where we were greeted with ice-cold, homemade lemonade and entreated to a brief rundown of the hotel’s colourful history. Going back more than 100 years under its previous names of the Commercial Hotel and Maluti Hotel, the hotel has recently been carefully refurbished by its new owners who have taken care to retain its country charm and historic appeal.

The cool and shady courtyard and garden, which should prove to be a real oasis on a typical summer day, was the venue for a traditional lunch of bobotie, rice and vegetables, followed by malva pudding – nothing else could have been more appropriate in that setting.

With the weather threatening, we left Zastron and headed for the mountains, soon leaving the tarmac behind as we joined the R393, a winding and scenic gravel road running through spectacular gorges. Closely following the Telle River which forms the SA / Lesotho border, the road was in reasonable condition, the vehicles feeling surefooted on the smooth, firm surface as we headed towards our first real challenge – the 2 170 m Lundin’s Nek.

Fast Facts

Model: Kia Sorento Sorento 2.2 CRDi SXL AWD 8DCT

Price: R998 995

Engine: 2,2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel

Transmission: 8-speed, DCT

Power: 148 kW @ 3 800 r/min

Torque: 440 N.m @ 1 750 – 2 750 r/min

Ground clearance: 176 mm

Fuel consumption: 6,8 L/100 km

CO2 emissions: 177 g/km

The post Kia Sorento Adventure – Part 1 appeared first on CAR Magazine.

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