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Lost in space

Unlike Kia's sat nav, the new Sorento is going in the right direction, writes IAN MALLON

LIFE can be tough for a 'poor' car hack. Apart from the free motors, free fuel, free tax, free insurance, no service charge, free roadside assist (as if you would need it) and free tolls, there is one other great gift about being a motoring journalist.

Apart from the free motors, free fuel, free tax, free insurance, no service charge, free roadside assist (as if you would need it) and free tolls, there is one other great gift about being a motoring journalist.

As one of the chosen few – and I'm not talking about the self anointed Irish Motor Writers club (of which I am definitely not a member) – being a national newspaper car critic means you get invited on international car launches.

An international car launch is the ultimate event – it is showbiz, five-star and unlimited posh nosh and frills.

When a car maker wants to launch a model they want everyone to know about then they feed you so much of the amber nectar that you'll be so dazzled you'll only write good things.

Now I don't go on even one fifth of the trips I'm invited on, but when a good one comes around you have no choice but to drop everything and accept . . . all in the interest of inform you dear readers of what's going out there in Carland.



The most recent was in the principality of Monaco – a place where you have no business being unless you're so minted that you have no concept of cost, or if you're an invited guest where everything is paid for.

You see, the term 'Motoring Journalist' is not strictly impartial/objective reporting if you are brought on five-star jollies and you then feel obliged to write glowing reports on the just launched brand or model.

Regular readers of this column will know I adhere to no such unwritten protocols, whereby certain journalists who belong to a club of brothers feel that they are not just invitees but an unholy union of shareholders to whichever corporate master has invited them.

I like to go, drink the free booze, work up a room bill and go home again. Eats, chews and leaves.

So with all the impartialities intact I can say that the recent double launch of the Kia Carens and Pro-C'eed introduced two thoroughly decent models to the already impressive Korean stable – but more about these new models in the weeks ahead.

My only problem with the Kia had more to do with the dodgy default, the sat nav.

My recent jolly to the South of France was extended somewhat thanks to the Sat Nav in my Kia mis-directing me from Monte Carlo to Nice airport, whereby I ended up in a hotel carpark, going back onto the main highway and heading back to the glorious hometown of the Grimaldi family.

The resulting pickle ended with me having to miss my flight home, whereby my trip was extended somewhat, leaving me to mull over my dilemma from the surrounds of the airport lounge.

The moral of the story being, even the most privileged and anointed driver can be kicked from our comfort zone by the irritating voice coming from the onboard navigation system telling us to go left when we know that we should really be going straight ahead.

That aside, it's not just the Kia sat nav that can sometimes go wrong, they all have their imperfections and can dazzle you with glorious incompetencies at any given time.

It also goes someway to telling you how good a car maker has become if the only failing you can find is the one that substitutes your own common sense.

Upon my return from Monaco I found myself behind the wheel of the latest top model on from the South Korean stable, the Kia Sorento.

The new Sorento comes with a brand new body, thanks to a significantly re-engineered body shell.

There is huge improvements in the drive itself, it handles much better than the previous and it's powered by almost 200bhp.

Because this is all-wheel drive I decided to test out her off-road capabilities over a fairly unforgiving track on the Curragh, whereby the resulting ride handled quite terrifically.

The Sorento is a seven seater, which will always go down in houses where separation of the brats makes for a happy ride.

If you're not using the back two seats they fold down perfectly flat, opening up a large area for storage.

And the best news of all with the Sorento, my one was the frills free version which meant: 'No sat nav.'

The new Kia Sorento will cost you from €37,990.