Kia Motors entered India by shaking the mid-sized SUV segment with the Seltos SUV, which recorded 1 lakh sales in less than 1 year. The company offers multiple engine gearbox combinations, segment-first and segment-leading features and appealing design. Kia wants to re-create similar success story with the all-new Sonet compact SUV. The SUV has received over 6,500 pre-orders on the first day of the opening of the bookings. So what makes the Kia Sonet so attractive and how good it is to drive, we drove this car for good 7-8 hours to answer all these questions.
Kia Sonet Design
No one is denying that Kia Seltos is one of the best-looking SUVs in its category, thanks to its unique profile and funky front profile. Similarly, the new Kia Sonet carries unique design and the end result is quite appealing. It shares lot of design cues from Seltos and Sonic SUVs and that’s a good thing.
The Sonet offers the familiar look, thanks to the signature ‘Tiger Nose’ grille in chrome and black. It retains the single headlamp, which looks cool with uniquely styled LED daytime running lights. The front bumper has dual-tone treatment that has silver treatment lower down and blacked-out lower air-dam. The bumper houses stylish fog lamps and scuff plate. The SUV’s sculpted bonnet has strong creases and Kia logo that is positioned above the grille.
The side profile of the Kia Sonet looks better, featuring shorter overhangs, 16-inch alloys shod with MRF tyres, black plastic cladding running all-around the body, blackened ORVMs, roof-rails, and chromed door-handles. At the back, the SUV features LED tail-lamps that mimic the design of the headlamps. There is a reflective strip that joins the two tail-lights. The new Kia Sonet looks broader than its direct rival Hyundai Venue. It looks wider and imposing, featuring strong creases and curves.
Kia Sonet Interior
As soon as you enter the Sonet’s cabin, the similarities with the Kia Seltos is clearly visible. The dashboard has the same layout as the Seltos, as it features the same 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the instrument console. The touchscreen unit is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and others. The Kia Sonet’s Bose premium sound system is quite impressive as well, and will give strong competition to Tata Nexon’s Harman-sourced sound system.
The instrument console is clear to read and looks sporty. The central console has big size buttons to control air-conditioning system and front ventilated seats. The sportier Sonet GT Line variant gets all-black interior scheme with red stitching, while the HT Line trim gets dual-tone black and beige interior. I personally feel the interior of the Kia Sonet is very busy. On the flip side, the Hyundai Venue’s interior is clean and clutter free.
Air-Conditioning Performance – The new Kia Sonet’s AC unit works really well. We were shooting this car in hot weather, but the AC unit is good enough to cool down the cabin in few minutes. The SUV also offers air-con vents for the rear passengers. The new Kia Sonet also has an integrated air-purifier with virus protection, which can be controlled using touchscreen.
Seating Comfort – This is the biggest drawback of this SUV, as it is made only for four adults. In fact, a six-feet tall person won’t find it comfortable. The front seats are okay, but the rear passenger area is congested. Legroom for rear passengers is very minimal, as it can only accommodate two average height adults and a kid. The broader profile from outside failed to translate inside in terms of space. The headroom space is very good, so a person with good height can seat in upright position.
Touchscreen Infotainment – It features the same 10.25-inch touchscreen unit is available in the Seltos SUV. This looks big for this vehicle class, I personally feel 7-8 inch screen would be more than sufficient for a sub-compact SUV. The icons are big, crisp and easily adjusted for a customised home screen. Connectivity through Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is quick and simple, and there’s onboard navigation as well. The Sonet’s Touchscreen shines on the user-interface front, offering easy-to-use controls and excellent touch-response.
Buttons and Plastic Quality – The plastic quality and the fit-and-finish is one of the finest in its category. The buttons quality is also very good.
Utility Spaces – The Kia Sonet offers a luggage compartment of 392-litres, which is more than sufficient to carry your weekend bags. There are enough cuby holes to keep your belongings. The glove box is decently sized, while the space inside the fixed type front armrest is very small. Doors have decently styled bottle holders. Adding to it, the doors also offer space to keep umbrella which is a nice touch.
Kia Sonet Performance
The Kia Sonet is available with 3 engine options – a 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol wih 5MT, a 1.0L turbocharged petrol with 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT, and a 1.5L turbo-diesel with 6-speed MT and a 7-speed DSG.
I got the chance to test drive the Sonet’s 1.5L diesel engine with automatic gearbox option. The diesel engine offers two states of tunes – a 99bhp/240Nm with manual gearbox and a 113bhp/250Nm with automatic gearbox. This 1.5L diesel engine sets a new benchmark in its category, offering segment-best refinement and satisfying performance. It is one of the smoothest diesel engines currently available in our market. Kia Motors also manages to keep diesel clatter in check. The power delivery is linear, while the lag is minimal. The same engine-gearbox combination is available in the Seltos as well; however, the Sonet’s smaller size and less weight make it better in terms of drivability.
It performs really well even on low RPMs. The real power comes between 1800rpm and 4,000rpm, which make it fun to drive on highways. Overtaking is effortless; however, the engine begins to sound clattery and starts running out of power post 4,000rpm. The 6-speed torque convertor automatic performs very well both in cities and on highways. Thanks to its less weight and smaller size, the automatic gearbox responds quickly on any action on accelerator pedal. The transition between the gear ratios feel quick and you won’t feel any jerk or lazy character while cruising on highway.
Ride & Handling
Similar to the Seltos, the Kia Sonet has firm suspension set-up. The ride quality in low speeds is stiff. In fact, the uncomfortable feel and stiffness is also noticeable on higher speeds. The Venue’s ride quality is comparatively better for the Indian roads. The ride quality could have been improved keeping broken Indian roads in mind, or Kia could consult its parent company – Hyundai.
What impresses me the most is the Sonet’s handling character! It shares the platform with the Hyundai Venue. The rigid chassis allows driver to confidently change directions on higher speeds. The body roll is minimum, which further makes it a great highway car. The steering feels light for city; however, it weighs up on increasing speeds. The steering feedback is decent and there is a scope of improvement.
The Kia Sonet diesel AT is available with 3 driving modes – Normal, Eco and Sport. In Sport mode, the steering gets heavier and the drive quality and performance improved significantly. The difference in steering weight and drivability between Eco and Normal mode is relatively same. There are traction modes as well – Snow, Mud and Sand. I found these traction modes useless. The brakes are progressive; however, all-4 disc brakes could have been added in the top-spec models.
Video – Kia Sonet Review
– Top notch fit & finish and plastic quality
– Excellent AC performance
– Seamless touchscreen user interface
– Diesel AT performs well
– Well packaged product, offers everything this segment demands
– Compromised interior space
– Ride quality is on stiffer side.