Kia Motors have had a golden run in India so far. Their very first car model the Seltos launched last year was received very well and is still among the top two selling models in the segment. Their 2nd car model the Carnival Premium MPV launched a few months back has also been very well received and has created its own segment of sorts.
Now Kia Motors wants to get into the busier and fiercely competed compact SUV segment with their very 1st model the Sonet. We have already got you the special preview of the Sonet sometime back and now we have driven it for our detailed test drive review. Join us as we dive deep into the latest highly anticipated and awaited SUV in town the Kia Sonet.
Food for Thought
Kia Motors unveiled the Sonet in its Concept form at the 2020 Delhi Auto Expo. The Concept model shown at the Auto Expo was nearly same as the final production version. The Compact SUV shares its platform with the Hyundai Venue. The engine and transmission options are also shared by both. The Sonet becomes the very first sub-4 meter Compact SUV in its lineup and also the most affordable Kia. The SUV also becomes the 1st in class model to get a Diesel Automatic transmission option on the lineup. The Sonet also gets worlds first
On the outside the first thing you notice is the sheer size of the Sonet, though being a sub-4 meter the SUV has loads of road presence and looks larger that it actually is thanks to the styling of its body panels. The SUV stands at 3,995 mm in length and has an overall width of 1,790mm. The overall height is of 1,642mm with the wheelbase that of 2500mm. Coming to the exterior styling details, the face gets the trademark KiaTiger nose grille in chrome while the inserts on it get black and red colored inlays. We drove the top of the line GT-Line trim which also has the special badging on the front grille. The flushed slim design headlamps come with unique crown jewel styling and integrated DRLs in them.
The front bumper comes with character lines defining its design along with neatly integrated fog lamps with chrome surrounds and black inserts placed. Adding to the SUV character here the Sonet also gets a faux aluminium skid plate place right under the wide air dam. The GTLine trim gets this special red inserts on the skid plate making it stand out compared to the other trims. You also get front parking sensors that are a real boon during tight parking situations.
The side profile on the Sonet is highlighted with blacked out roof, aluminum roof rails, chrome door handles, fibre cladding around the fenders and running board, the GTLine gets red inserts on the running board cladding. The highlight design element on the side profile is the unique insert placed just besides the rear windshield that mates the sides to the tail gate finished in piano black. The Sonet drives on progressive design 16 inches diamond cut alloys with the GT Line getting the brake callipers finished red that adds to its styling element.
The rear profile on the Sonet like the front end is in its own league. The styling here includes Trademark Kia heartbeat LED Taillamps that are neatly flushed in the body and have a rather uniquely design. A slim reflector connects both the taillights giving the rear end a very sporty look. The rear windshield is placed at an angle thus extending the boot capacity. The rear bumper gets faux aluminum skid plates with red lining with piano black inserts and reflectors on it. You also get a body coloured spoiler, electric sun roof and the shark fin antenna on the package.
Stepping inside the Sonet you are welcomed with an all black premium looking cabin area. The dash board comes vertical styled Ac vents like on the Seltos and also the identical 10.25 inch infotainment touch-screen similar to that of the Seltos is loaded with all the needed apps and connectivity features . You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, FM radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity loaded on the AVN unit. The key highlight here is the unique Kia UVO connectivity feature with 57 features loaded here. The instrument cluster is an 4.2 inch digital screen that again is picked from the Seltos.
The Sonet also gets wireless charger on its feature list. The speedometer is a digital display that is large and crisp to view. The leather wrapped steering wheel again is the same as the one seen on the Seltos, this three spoke unit gets aluminum inserts along with glossy black inserts for the MFD buttons that come in premium looking chrome finish. This steering gets manual adjust only for height.
The climate control comes with inbuilt air purifier cum freshener like seen on the Seltos and also India’s 1st virus and bacteria protection filter. The audio system is powered by Bose 7-speaker premium unit with a sub-woofer playing out some super premium audio quality. You also get mood and sound lighting on the package.
The Sonet comes with front ventilated seats which are wrapped in leather upholstery and also sport the GT badge for this trim. The seats get unique piped styling on them enhancing the comfort level. The drivers seat gets height adjust too. Front seats offer very good comfort level with good under thigh support and lumber support. The driver also gets a good view of the road ahead.
Rear seats come with two adjustable headrests and a foldable armrest. The rear passengers also get dedicated air con vents with air quality index display and a USB port with a small compartment to place the smartphone while charge. We loved the backrest support and padding that offered best in class comfort level. Seating here is comfortable for two passengers with the third passenger being a tight squeeze with excellent head room. The Sonet gets a boot capacity of 392 litres with good wide loading area adding to the convenience.
Engine – Transmission – Drive
The Kia Sonet shares the engine options with the Hyundai Venue. You have three engine options to choose from which include the 1.0Litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol with 120Ps and 172 Nm, 1.2 L petrol with 83PS and 115 Nm and the 1.5L Diesel with 115 PS and 240 Nm on the auto and 100PS/240Nm on the diesel manual. Transmission options include the 5-speed manual on the 1.2L Petrol, 6-speed iMT and 7-DCT on the 1.0 GDI petrol, 6-speed manual and 6-speed CVT automatic on the diesel engines.
We first drove the Diesel Auto, this becomes the first in class automatic oil burner model. The engine is highly refined; you do not hear any engine noise inside the cabin. The automatic transmission gets the normal drive modes along with tiptronic shift. The Sonet Diesel Automatic is sheer joy to drive with the car having excellent drive dynamics. The steering feels lively to grip and is well weighted offering a good balanced feedback. Power delivery is good and linearly spread. The Sonet handles rather well and feels planted at all speeds. What impressed us is the excellent ride quality and its ability to glide over bad roads and pot holes with super ease.
We also drove the iMT (intelligent manual transmission) version of the Sonet, this again is the same transmission that is seen on the Hyundai Venue. The joys of driving a manual transmission car with the comfort of an automatic is the key USP of this transmission. The 1.0 Turbo petrol engine has only 3 cylinders but it behaves like a proper 4-cylinder engine offering excellent power supporting the iMT transmission. It is pure bliss running through the iMT shifts that engage precisely. The car can take off from a standstill in either the 1st or 2nd gear also noteworthy here is that you can’t stall the engine if you up shift or downshift to a higher gear at slow speeds or lower gear at high speeds.
The intelligent transmission that this is simple beeps and asks you to shift correctly. You also can use the shifts for engine braking when needed just like a manual transmission. We loved the iMT Venue and the iMT Sonet too drives very well. Over taking is sheer joy thanks to the turbo boosting power and the fun factor involved in driving an iMT is very high.
The Sonet gets disc brakes in the front and drum at the rear, braking is pretty decent but we would have liked a bit more sting to the braking. Overall the Sonet excel’s in all the drive departments flawlessly and easily.
In terms of safety the Kia Sonet comes with six sirbags, ABS with EBD, frontand rear parking sensors, HAC & VSM, remote engine start (MT &AT), rear drive monitor to name a few.
The Kia Sonet is an excellent package in terms of looks, comfort and styling. It ticks the right boxes and more in every department. The Sonet is available in three engine and five transmission options including the iMT and DCT that we love. The Sonet is gunning for the top slot in the segment and the competition be better ready to face it. This can easily become the best in class Compact SUV when launched in a few days. We expect the Kia Sonet to be priced between the Rs. 8 Lakh to 12 Lakh price range. Bookings are open for the Kia Sonet
Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar