Kia SA has stunned the motoring world with the introduction of a 10 year warranty on its new Sorento SUV - the first time a vehicle guarantee has exceeded three years. And more Kia cars may follow.
Ray Levin, CEO of Kia SA, says the new warranty, for 10 years or 150 000 km, whichever comes first, covers all parts, and is designed to retain customers at Kia dealerships, as well as offering finance companies peace of mind when it comes to lending cash for the Sorento.
Levin said latest provisions of the Finance Act would allow banks to lend money for longer than the traditional five years if they were satisfied with their investment. The new warranty would give them this long-term satisfaction.
To qualify for the warranty, which is transferable between owners, the car must be serviced only at Kia dealerships.
Although he stopped short at making a further announcement, Levin also hinted that other cars in the Kia stable might come out with a 10 year warranty in future.
The new Sorento comes in for a number of revisions, both visually and under the skin, and for the first time will be offered in both 4x2 and 4x4 versions, visually identical.
Changes include a powerful new 198 kW 3.8-litre V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox as the range's flagship, reduced noise, vibration and harshness, bold styling revisions with new grille, bumpers and wheels, higher safety levels, more rear legroom, and revised suspension settings for improved ride and handling.
The new super-smooth 3.8-litre version of the DOHC, 24-valve petrol V6 produces its 198 kW at 6 000 r/min and torque to 360 Nm at 4 500 r/min, enough to hustle the car from 0 - 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds.
Of all-aluminium construction, the engine also features variable valve timing.
The second generation CRDi turbo-diesel engine has been boosted to 2.5-litre with a commensurate increase in both performance and fuel economy.
Power output power of 104 kW at 3 800 r/min and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 2 000 r/min. There's a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto gearbox
As far as styling goers, the changes see a revised front end with a new bumper, grille and headlights.
Indicator lenses (not just the bulbs) are now orange, with projector-style lighting more obvious behind the clear polycarbonate of the all-in-one headlight pod. Circular foglights are incorporated in the bumper.
There' s still that trademark high and prominent bonnet.
There are also minor changes to the rear; and tail lights have a wrap-around effect to make them more visible from certain oblique angles.
The re-sculptured bumper and a chrome garnish above the tailgate release echo the frontal treatment.
If black or silver is chosen as the exterior colour, the protective cladding and new-look waistline garnish are colour-coded, or contrasts with the choice of paint colour
The new Sorento grows by 20 mm as a result of the bodywork changes and there are new-style 16 inch alloy rims.
The interior in particular has been cleaned up, with a modern look and feel that takes the car upmarket.
The dashboard is covered in high quality soft-look material, while the centre console, also in black, has chromed relief lines which look really distinctive.
There's also more room in the back thanks to redesigned seats.
On the road the new vehicle is very impressive. The short duration of our ride and drive just outside Durban didn't give us the opportunity toe drive the new 3.8, but we were VERY impressed by the turbo-diesel, and would prefer this one not just for its obvious fuel economy advantages, but also for its easy driveabiltiy.
That high torque is delivered from really low down, giving lots of oomph not only for pullaway, but also for overtaking, while at the power-sapping Reef, with only a small power loss from a turbo engine, my betting is there'd be little to choose between the diesel and the petrol on overall performance.
Ride quality is much improved thanks to changes to the front suspension geometry and to the rear shock absorber positioning, but there's no loss of roadholding.
In fact, with permanent four-wheel drive on the vehicle we drove the wheels stuck firmly to the road even under very hard cornering, albeit with some degree of body roll - it is, after all, a tall vehicle with high suspension, so the laws of physics have to apply.
One of the things we like on the Sorento is that it's a very safe vehicle, with four Euro NCAP stars and five in US testing, and the addition of curtain airbags (as well as the dual front airbags fou8nd on the previous model) boosts this.
There are also are all-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS and EBD.
The Sorento is a premium SUV, and as such comes well loaded with features.
There's luxurious black leather upholstery, an electrically 16 way adjustable driver's seat, height adjustable steering column, power steering with cruise control, full dual-zone air conditioning with full auto climate with rear vents, and eight-speaker/MP3-compatible CD/tuner sound system.
The car also gets a comprehensive roof-mounted multi-function trip computer with compass, distance to empty, average speed and elapsed time.
Another new feature is rear park distance control reduces, plus revised instruments with brighter LED lighting.
Improved oddment/drink storage solutions round off the cabin, and a sunroof is optional.
Finally, an updated sound deadening package has reduced extraneous noise.
The rear seat is split 60/40 and when folded creates a cargo area of gargantuan proportions.
Even with the seats up, the Sorento provides 890 litres of storage space over and above the storage facilities in the passenger compartment.
Seating configurations are quick and easy to adjust, thanks to simple seat lock and adjustment mechanisms.
For the off-road aficionados, the 4x4 models have a proper transfer case with low ratios (push-button operated) with 203 mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 28.4 degrees, a departure angle of 25.8 degrees, and a limited slip differential on the rear wheels. The roll over angle is at 40 degrees.
The LS rear differential is from Eaton, and the gearbox/transfer case is by Borg-Warner.
The Sorento 2.5 CRDi 4x2 manual will retail for R 299 995 with the automatic version costing R 314 995 and the 3.8 V6 4X2 automatic R319 995.
On the 4x4 versions the 2.5 CRDi manual is R 329 995, the automatic R 344 995 and the flagship V6 4X4 R 349 995. The optional factory fitted sunroof costs R 6 000.
Pricing includes the 10 year/150 000 km warranty plus 3 year/unlimited km roadside assistance and 3 year/60 000 km maintenance plan as standard. Servicing is required at 15 000 km intervals on all models.