Hyundai and Kia engineers are developing new diesel engines that are said to match anything from Europe and Japan for performance, emissions and refinement.
This summer, the next-generation Kia Sorento will become the first model to use the group's new 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine, announced last year. The new Sorento is scheduled to arrive in the UK at the start of 2010.
With an output of 195bhp, this engine is significantly more powerful than 2.0-litre diesels from BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen, which develop between 170bhp and 175bhp.
It's also strong on torque, developing a maximum 322lb ft of pull from 2000rpm. Kia claims that the new Sorento with four-wheel drive and a manual gearbox will accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds and emit 174g/km of carbon dioxide (CO2). It is the first Korean diesel to meet Euro 5 emissions standards, which are due in 2011.
The current Sorento a heavier and more ruggedly built car than the new model is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel, producing 168bhp and 289lb ft of torque. It is nearly 2.5 seconds slower than the 2.2 from 0-62mph and emits 35g/km more CO2. That means the 2.2 is seven bands lower for company car tax purposes.
The 2.2 diesel is the first of an all-new series of 'R' engines that are being developed, a 2.0-litre version will follow later.
There is now a clear strategy to use the current 2.0-litre in medium-sized vehicles, such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, and reserve the 2.2 for larger, heavier models, which can benefit most from its extra power and torque.