Kia Australia will have hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure-electric cars on sale in Australia by the middle of 2021.
The company has confirmed it’s planning to launch the seven-seat Sorento Plug-in Hybrid during the second quarter of this year, at which point it’ll join the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric Niro range.
The Toyota Kluger-rivalling Sorento Hybrid will arrive “later in the year”, with more specific launch dates to come closer to launch.
Once both variants arrive in Australian showrooms, the Kia Sorento will be the only vehicle in Australia to offer petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrain options.
Pricing and specifications for both models are to be confirmed, and it’s unclear whether each powertrain will be offered with multiple variants or just reserved for high-end grades.
Currently, the Sorento range starts from $46,990 drive-away in Australia for the entry-level S V6 petrol front-wheel drive, and climbs to $64,990 drive-away for the GT-Line diesel all-wheel drive.
Our guess is the plug-in hybrid will be an option for the GT-Line priced around the $70,000-$75,000 mark, while the conventional hybrid should command a grand or two over the all-wheel drive diesel and be available across several trim levels.
In the UK, the Sorento Hybrid all-wheel drive is £1500 ($2637) more than the equivalent turbo-diesel, while the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid is about another £6100 ($10,726) in the same specification.
While British car prices aren’t always super indicative of Australian ones due to exchange rates and the nation’s vehicle tax structure, it gives you an idea of what to expect – $2000-$2500 extra for the Hybrid, and $7500-$10,000 for the Plug-in Hybrid over the equivalent diesel AWD.
As a refresher, both the Kia Sorento Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid draw upon a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine mated to an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The main difference is the obvious ‘plug-in’ aspect, as well as system power outputs and battery capacity.
The PHEV gets a 67kW/304Nm electric motor and water-cooled 13.8kWh battery. This takes system outputs to 195kW/350Nm.
Meanwhile, the Sorento Hybrid’s powertrain pairs the same 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the PHEV with a smaller 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and a 44kW/264Nm electric motor. The system makes 169kW of power and 350Nm torque
Kia UK quotes fuel economy between 6.9 and 7.4L/100km for the Sorento Hybrid on the combined WLTP cycle depending on specification (0.6L/100km worse than the diesel), and a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) sprint of 8.7 seconds – 0.4s quicker than the 2.2-litre diesel.
The PHEV’s economy figures are yet to be confirmed, meaning we also don’t know how long the battery pack can run in zero-emissions EV mode, but the 0-60mph time is quicker again at a claimed 8.4 seconds.
Key rivals for the Sorento Hybrid include the next-generation Toyota Kluger – which will offer hybrid power in Australia for the first time – and the related Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid due by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid doesn’t have many direct rivals, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and upcoming Ford Escape PHEV being a class smaller and five-seat only, while the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90 PHEVs are all substantially higher in price (at least based off our estimates) and much more powerful.
Kia Australia also recently announced its plans to finally bring the compact Niro crossover in hybrid, plug-in and electric guises from the second quarter of 2021.
Kia’s electrification story has been an interesting one. After committing to just electric vehicles a couple of years ago, it appears the company’s local arm has decided to take a chance on hybrids after global supply constraints delayed the electric Niro by at least 12-18 months.
The move to bring in the Sorento hybrids as well as the petrol-electric Niro models bodes well for hybrid versions of other models, including the next-generation Sportage.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for more updates over the coming months, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.