The power to surprise is Kia’s slogan and the World Cup’s official car partner (alongside Hyundai) is full of such surprises. Not wanting to miss out on the fun and discovering this for myself, I set out for a test drive recently. The current Kia Sorento is to me an underestimated Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), maybe largely because it is a new brand in the auto industry and also quite new in Uganda.
However, plaudits should go to Peter Schreyer, who year after year, has been winning design accolades for Kia. Just a few weeks ago, he was again named car designer of the year. About Kia’s being associated with this year’s and 2010’s World Cup, Motorcenter CEO, Joseph Semuwemba, says Kia is a fast growing brand. “Sports marketing puts us closer to the people that we serve,” Semuwemba argues. The Sorento whose comfort I enjoyed is a facelift of the second generation SUV and it is already making people turn heads in amazement.
“It is underrated but it is a class apart. People ask that if it is such a wonderful vehicle then why sell it at this price (he doesn’t mention the price but says it is below that of other brand new SUVs on the market). Our objective is to have Ugandans enjoying the benefits of a good product,” Ssemuwemba adds.
“It is really spacious, has a nice functional steering wheel with buttons for other features and shifts power automatically. Triptronic allows you to choose between manual and automatic gears, with no clutch to worry about. It is an auto-semi manual gear that offers fans, of either transmission, lots of fun.”
If you want to drive it in fully-automatic mode, you select auto and likewise if you want manual, you can opt for it with ease,” says Barbara Kembabazi, a sales admnistrator at Motorcenter.
Other features include day-time running lights, 19” low profile tyres, improved ground clearance, has stitched leather, you can adjust the instrument cluster’s brightness or darkness, depending on what you want the speedometer, fuel gauge and others to appear like.
There is a button on the steering wheel which at several presses lets you know how much fuel you need or you are left with, the distance covered or for how long you have been driving.
Thanks to the Bluetooth feature, you can programme up to six phones (yours and the passengers’).
Other features include polished wood interior, alloy pedals for sports freaks, USB pots/auxiliary, dual air-conditioning, a very deep storage box, double panoramic sunroof and a very soft motor driven steering wheel.
Another interesting feature is “Active eco” which allows you to economise on the vehicle’s fuel and power and carbon emissions. Now, to many of us who are conscious about spending much on fuel, this feature helps you economise.
What I also liked is that the Sorento picks up speed very fast and is a very quiet diesel, for those interested in diesel engine vehicles but are often put off by the noise.
For a vehicle its size and price (ask the dealer), it is a decent buy worth having than perhaps some second hand SUVs that cost an arm and leg. The power to surprise!
Kia Sorento users’ comments
Marvin Mulinda, a businessman, says, “It is a strong car that can be used in the field. It is comfortable, the fuel consumption is fine. With its diesel engine, I have been able to go to Entebbe and back to Kampala on a half tank twice! I have had it for three years but I have never replaced anything, not even shocks, only the usual servicing. I recommend people to buy it.”
Patel (he didn’t give the other name)
“It is a good car, well priced, a seven-seater, the steering is very smooth, the pickup of speed is also good and it is smooth on the highway. The Bluetooth and other features such as the buttons on the steering wheel are all nice. I have had it for a few months but I can tell you it is better than a Rav4. The only problem with it is on our bad roads the suspension makes some noise but it is generally okay.”
Jane Mbabazi has had her Sorento for almost a year now and she is full of praises for it.
“I love the interior of this seven-seater, you can turn the rare seats into a boot or fold them to suit particular seating positions. It has a beautiful sunroof that goes all the way to the back. You can talk hands free, thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity on your phone. Its diesel engine is cost effective.
A full tank takes me to Rukungiri and back yet it costs less than Shs200,000. The car is so stable on the road. When climbing a hill, you don’t really feel it. I experienced this in Kabale. I had a second hand Harrier before this and it wasn’t so stable and it was also not fuel-efficient.
You can play music from your phone. It is not so expensive for a brand new car. The steering wheel is so soft compared to other cars which feel like one’s steering a lorry. My children really like the spacious interior and panoramic sunroof. I would definitely recommend it for someone with a big family or to one who wants to save money on fuel.”