Kia Sorento – Switch on

Ian Lamming plugs in to the benefits of Kia’s latest Sorento.

THERE’S no better occasion to test a vehicle than when you are having a few days away, to the point where great thought and planning goes into car bookings.

So, I need a car that is spacious enough to carry people and their gubbins in complete comfort, that looks smart because it’s always good to try and impress, that is powerful and reliable enough to get you there stress-free but economically enough not to upset the bank account. Surely, I’ll need a magic wand for all that

Hmmm? I’m thinking Kia, SUV, hybrid then. Better still, a plug in hybrid where you get even more power and economy. So the new Sorento PHEV becomes the chariot of choice for a foray to the Cotswolds, via Harry Potter studios of course.

That’s a trek and not that pleasant a one either. Miles of tedious motorway made even more challenging by roadworks, dire service stations and too much traffic. Worse still, a road closure soon into the journey re-routes the big Kia through parts of Greater Manchester I didn’t even know existed. Nice.

Then, in the blink of an eye, there’s Watford, we are south of the Gap and pulling into the magical world of Warner Brothers. Didn’t the Kia do well?

Teenage son had the choice of six seats (he’s too young to pilot this seven-seater) and opted for the sliding, reclining middle row to watch his movies in the spacious, comfortable interior, his mobile DVD player hooking easily on to the headrest and plugging into a choice of power ports. Not even sure he realised he’d left home, particularly as he hadn’t helped pack the gargantuan boot.

Mother had tapped all the way there on her laptop filling the magazines she edits so diligently and I’d just cruised along in perfect comfort, listening to the 12 speaker hi-fi, happy in the knowledge that this very large yet easy to manage family car was quaffing the unleaded at the reasonable rate of 57 miles per gallon. Nice.

Harry Potter dreams sated – I love the studios – it’s time to head North up to the Cotswolds where narrow country lanes might become the nemesis of this large vehicle, walls and hedges presenting Voldemort-esque threats to our hero’s bodywork.

Strangely, the behemoth Kia seems to shrink under the command of the driver’s care. Like the view from the witch’s broom, the seating position is so commanding, that driving Sorento is easy in any conditions, whether that’s down country lanes or in crowded towns and villages.

And when you have left it safely among the masses it is easy to relocate as its enormous proportions, smiling tiger grille and huge road presence leave it standing out from the crowd.

It’s a great looking car from any angle with a delightful interior that oozes quality in every sphere. Designers have waved their magic wander over an interior second to none. The virtual clocks are clever, the wide touchscreen is flanked by touch-buttons with haptics.

Plug-in hybrids are a great way to wean you off the internal combustion engine. For those to scaredy-cat to go full electric for fear of running out of charge, they provide the comfort of petrol so you’ll never run out of charge. If you can be bothered to plug it in then the EV, fully charged, will take you 35 miles, up to 43 in towns and cities. If you don’t, the electric motor still works with the turbocharged petrol dropping it onto full electric where it can. It’s an amazing combo as it offers impressive performance (how else would you see figures of 261BHP from a 1.6 litre petrol), brilliantly low emissions and excellent fuel consumption figures – the product of the dark arts indeed – adding to the magic of an enjoyable trip away from home.

Fact File

Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi PHEV ‘3’

Engine: 1.6 petrol plug-in hybrid

Power: 261BHP

0-62mph: 8.4 secs

Top speed: 119mph

Combined MPG: 176

Transmission: six-speed auto AWD

CO2 g/km: 38

Price: £49,555.00 � �