First Drive

First Drive: KIA SORENTO PHEV

The story:
The new Sorento – our CCT100 Large SUV of the Year – gets even more fleet friendly with the addition of a plug-in hybrid version.
Category:Large SUV
Key rival:Land Rover Discovery PHEV
KIA SORENTO 2 1.6 PHEV T-GDI AUTO AWD
Price:£44,940
MPG:176.6mpg
Emissions:38g/km
On sale:Now

The Sorento was already an impressive new entrant into the large SUV sector, picking up our Company Car Today Large SUV of the Year Award in January, even before Kia added the model’s first ever plug-in hybrid version.

The new addition has an official electric-only range of 35 miles – a figure we matched on our test drive – to go with CO2 emissions from 38g/km from its 261hp combination of 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and electric powertrain that uses a 13.8kWh battery. It joins 199hp diesel and 226hp ‘self-charging’ petrol-hybrid powertrains in a range that arrived in the UK in the second half of last year.

First Drive - April 2021 - Kia Sorento PHEV - Image 4The company expects the entry ‘2’ spec to be the most popular of the three specs – imaginatively called 2, 3 and 4 – with company car drivers and fleets taking around 60% of registrations on the PHEV thanks to its favourable taxation position. The plug-in sits in the 11% BiK tax band for company drivers which, on the 3 spec that is the only one offered with all powertrains, means monthly bills of £179 for a 40% taxpayer on the 2 spec, compared with £497 on the diesel and £519 on the hybrid, eating nicely into the £6680 P11D price gap to the hybrid and £8520 to the diesel. Indeed, over four years, the PHEV would be worth a tax saving of more than £15,000.

Worth noting is that, unlike the Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV, the bigger Sorento maintains the full flexibility and practicality of its diesel or hybrid siblings, including more than 600 litres of boot space and a seven-seat layout, with the rear two seats folding flat into the boot floor when not required. The middle row can be slid back and forth by a hefty 45mm to maximise middle-row legroom or offer space for those in the third row.First Drive - April 2021 - Kia Sorento PHEV - Image 6

The hybrid powertrain is excellent in its switch between petrol and electric power, and is sprightly under acceleration despite the car’s size. The Sorento also seems a lot keener than some PHEVs to use electric power only, with plenty of scope for pedal-prodding before the engine kicks in alongside the electric motor.

It’s also plenty ‘regular’ enough when driven in the default Eco mode, which isn’t the numbed and de-powered set-up it is on some other cars.

paul barker

The verdict

A sensible, tax-efficient seven-seat SUV that retains the space and practicality that has already netted the Sorento a CCT100 Award, but with added efficiency.