When the Kia Sorento van arrived here at Fleet Towers the other week, I dispatched a colleague to the car park to remove the press pack.
She returned a few minutes later and told me: ‘There isn’t a van in the car park.’
Thinking that it had been left in the wrong place, I went out with her and pointed at our test model.
‘What’s that then?’ I asked her.
‘That’s not a van – it’s an SUV,’ she replied.And there you have it in a nutshell – if you want to buy a van and claim back the VAT, but you don’t want anyone to know you are driving a commercial vehicle, the Sorento XE-C is the boy for you.
It looks like a 4x4, drives like a 4x4 and by golly it is a 4x4. The only thing missing is a row of seats in the back.
Kia has joined the growing band of manufacturers which have realised they don’t have to spend millions of pounds developing LCVs but instead can take out the rear set of seats from an existing car, fit a load floor and save themselves the time and effort.
And I’d have to admit that, after spending a week with the Sorento XE-C, it isn’t half bad.
It weighs in at a diminutive £14,341 ex-VAT and comes with a 2.5-litre common rail diesel powerplant offering 138bhp at 3,800rpm and 252lb-ft of torque at 1,850-2,500rpm.
Our test model came with a five-speed manual gearbox but an automatic can be ordered at £15,277.
The cargo area measures 1,610mm in length, 1,370mm in width and 930mm in height and payload is 544kg.
Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 36.7mpg.
Director of sales operations Howard Slade, told Fleet Van: ‘The Sorento is already a firm favourite with large SUV buyers and we have been asked about a commercial conversion by many operators who recognise its abilities but want a more utilitarian alternative.
This vehicle will allow us to enter the CV market for the first time in a decade in the UK and provide a realistic alternative that combines Kia’s high-level specification with the workability that these vehicles need in the commercial marketplace.’
Slade aims to sell just 300 units in the first year.
On the road
The Sorento may be a bargain-basement model but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
In the looks department, this vehicle can hold its head up with the rest of them – it’s macho, chunky and stylish, especially clad in the silver paint of our test model.
Meanwhile the bottom end of the van is completely swathed in plastic, which means annoying bumps and scrapes can be dealt with cheaply.