Kia has promised that its next-generation models will be quieter and more refined, in part because of new materials in dashboards that ‘absorb’ noise from the engine bay. It is also making dashboards up to 30 per cent thicker to take advantage of the new materials. Other measures to cut noise include the use in its diesel vehicles of a special ‘wrapping’ for the exhaust system’s particulate filter. Kia claims the ambient drone within the cabin of its new Sorento SUV is up to six per cent quieter than the current model.It has released the first images of the 2015 Sorento along with a few details, mostly about the use of more high-strength steels, new suspension geometry, and changes to the electric steering system. What it is not talking about are details of the new Optima sedan, due in 2016 and pictured here (below) by Automedia spy photographers testing while heavily camouflaged on Germany’s Nurburgring circuit. More on this down the page. Kia will officially unveil the Sorento at next month’s Paris motor show before its likely arrival in New Zealand in the first half of next year. Five- and seven-seater models will be available. At 4780mm, the new SUV is 95mm longer than the outgoing model, allowing a wheelbase of 2780mm, up 80mm. It is not as tall, however, down 15mm to 1685mm. The new dimensions, says Kia, mean occupants in all three rows of the seven-seater will have more room. The Sorento takes its visual cues from the Kia Cross GT concept car from last year’s Chicago motor show. The bonnet and wide D-pillars are carried over from the current Sorento, but an enlarged grille and headlights that sweep back into the wings give the new model a more dynamic look. Kia says the Sorento is quieter, more refined and much stronger than the current model, thanks in part to a 14 per cent more rigid body. Also, the suspension’s shock absorbers are now mounted vertically, a change which should improve resistance to body roll. Relocating the electric power steering system motor to the steering rack itself, rather than the steering column, helps to reduce steering kickback and make electric power assistance feel more natural in its feedback, says Kia. New to Sorento is a 360-degree view parking monitor, an automatic electric tailgate which has sensors that open the boot as you approach the car with the key, and a remote one-lever folding for the rearmost seats in the seven-seat versions. Active cruise control, lane-departure, blind spot and front collision warning assist plus speed limit recognition are all available. Worldwide, five engines will be available, but most interest in NZ will centre on the 2.2-litre turbodiesel. Power outputs and efficiency claims for each engine are not yet known. Meanwhile, the new Optima is expected to go on sale in South Korea next year before its launch in the US as a 2016 model. Kia’s on-road pre-production testing cycles normally start around 18 months the vehicle
enters serial mass production, so expect it in NZ later in 2016. Also expect a new look inside and out, with more premium materials, improved design, comfort and powertrain technology. There will be an optional new hybrid drivetrain, too.