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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Kia Sorento and Carnival

Kia no longer has the “Power to surprise.” That’s because it is now firmly established as one of the best brands in South Africa. When you climb in to a new Kia product, it is no surprise that it is excellent. If you don’t agree, then you need to change your perspective and your perception of this brand because you are lagging behind. The new Kia Sorento and the new Carnival are just two more excellent feathers in Kia’s hat and I got to experience them both this weekend in all their glory.

ROAD TRIP

I am not the hugest fan of a long road trip. Don’t judge me. Just because I am a motoring journalist does not mean I love to spend hours on the open road, trying to hold in a wee and snacking on garage pies. Nope, I am more of a destination person more than I am about the journey. But when you get to do a long drive over a weekend and get to experience some incredible destinations, well then, I am all for it.

A TRAVELING CARNIVAL

We kicked off the weekend on a flight to Gqeberha where we were met by the Kia team and the new products on display. We hopped in to the Carnival first and made our way to Plettenberg Bay. I only had one bag with me, if you can believe it, but oh my gosh the space in this car is unreal. I want it parked in my garage for every trip I now ever have to go on.

It comes as a seven or eight seater and boasts a massive 1 139-litres of boot space with the third seats folded away. They fold completely flat in to the load bay so you really get all of the space!

The model line up has been expanded to four models starting with the EX and going up to the SXL which will arrive in March. We got to drive the SX Limited model which has just about all the features you’d need in any car. Including Smart Cruise Control, a wireless charging dock, Around View Monitor, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, seven USB ports, dual sunroofs, electric sliding doors, and a host of advanced driving assist systems, to name but a few. The heated and ventilated seats came in handy as we drove through a heat wave that was one of the hottest the Western Cape has seen in years. Some places reached 42 degrees Celsius. What wasn’t fun was when Terence would secretly put on my seat heaters (and the steering wheel heater)! Let’s just say it was almost friendship-ending.

Under the bonnet sees a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine producing 148 kW and 440 Nm. The engine is punchy enough, even though it is pulling a rather hefty vehicle. I had no trouble overtaking, much to Terence’s horror (he is a nervous passenger, you see). Our fuel consumption was a very impressive 7.7l/100 km.

The Carnival, previously known as the Sedona and Grand Sedona, is a complimentary option to the Sorento, it is not necessarily an alternative. It comes down to your buying needs and desires. Do you want to drive an SUV or an MPV, but it must be noted that the Carnival does not feel like an MPV. They were usually a bit more industrial feeling. They were frumpy and usually a commercial van converted into a family car. Not this guy! It is not only beautiful in its design but also in its drive. You almost forget that you’ve got three rows behind you. Unless you have your chatty bestie and his stukkie in the back.

We spent the night at the Plettenberg hotel, which let me tell you, showcases how the other half lives. I could have moved in permanently!

SO SORENTO

The next morning, with a heavy heart, we left our oasis and climbed in to the new Sorento. Thankfully, we were headed to another fancy pants spot in the form of Gondwana Game Reserve. After the Carnival, the Sorento felt so small, but in reality, it is anything but. It is also a seven seater, but in true SUV form. With 616-litres of boot space, it is really super practical and still a fantastic-sized family car.

Three models are on offer, we drove the top of the range SXL model with all its bells and whistles. It has many of the same features as experienced in the Carnival derivative we drove but the screen is at 10.25-inches. It has the same 2.2-litre engine and we saw a slightly lower fuel consumption reading of 7.4l/100 km. Still as punchy, still as impressive.

The only slight issue I had in both cars was that I found the driver’s seat to be a touch uncomfortable on the long trips. My backside went numb a few times, but that will probably teach me to make more stops. Other than that, I cannot fault anything on these cars. They are made with your family needs and comfort in mind.

Kia is not trying to be a premium brand, even though it can certainly compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz or Audi, it is rather trying to be the best mobility brand and this is exactly what Kia is achieving. I will continue to highly recommend this brand. Now to just negotiate the commission…

STAND OUT MAINTENANCE

This is probably one of the highlights of these cars. Both are offered with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and a six-year/90 000 km maintenance plan. Why is this so impressive, you ask?

This comprehensive package covers a number of components at no cost to the owner over and above a standard service plan, including (but not limited to) brake pads, discs and linings, shock absorbers, battery, clutch, cambelt, various belts, globes and fuses. So basically everything! You will still have to cover the cost of fuel though, sorry!

PRICING

CARNIVAL PRICING:

Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX 8AT 7-Seater R799,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX+ 8AT 8-Seater R879,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi SX Limited 8AT 7-Seater R999,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi SXL 8AT 7-Seater R1,024,995

SORENTO PRICING:

Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater EX+ 2WD 8DCT R809,995
Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater EX+ AWD 8DCT R849,995
Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater SX AWD 8DCT R914,995
Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater SXL AWD 8DCT R988,995

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