Kia Sonet Review: The king among compact SUVs?
Being successful is one of the toughest challenges, particularly for auto manufacturers here in India. And it’d be safe to say that Kia Cars has tasted success with their first model, the Seltos – going on to achieve remarkable sales – something very unlikely of a new brand that has only so recently made its foray in India. And Kia has now become immensely popular here within just a year of launching its first product. However, the other most important segment, as we all know, is that of the sub-4 meter SUV space – and it appears, Kia couldn’t watch the fight without being part of it – the result of which is the Sonet, which will take on the likes of Hyundai’s Venue, Toyota’s Urban Cruiser, Maruti’s Vitara Brezza, Mahindra’s XUV300 and the Nissan Magnite.
Getting those looks right
Kia is very bullish about its design language for all its models, including the ones not sold in India. The Sonet nails it for styling, and said to be inspired by the silhouette of an elephant, and so, you will notice the pumped-up body panels and the nicely rounded wheel arches. Viewed from up-ahead, it gets the Tiger Nose knurled grille, flanked by stylish headlights that feature the ‘heartbeat’ signature DRLs (also seen on the tail lights of the SUV). From the sides, the wheels don’t appear tiny, while the rear boasts of a light strip running in between both tail lamps.
It is sold in two design trims: GT-Line and Tech Line, and we drove the former. This particular variant offers sporty elements that include red accents all over the car. The level of detailing is impressive, and you’ll even notice a plastic insert in the C-pillar, on top of the tail lights. And it all bodes very well with the colours Kia is offering the Sonet with, in India.
You’d be very pleased with the cabin, for it really ups the game in the sub-4 meter space. Everything is well detailed – right from the finish of plastics to the equipment. What immediately catches your eye is the 10.25-inch multimedia screen. A host of features include an in-built air purifier with a digital display, various connectivity options, a 9-speaker Bose sound system with a subwoofer, ventilated front seats and the UVO mobile connectivity system.
The cabin oozes quality, and the leather that featured on our test model, gives it a premium air. The red-and-black theme looks sporty, and will be easy to mend. And while there may be a few hard plastics in select areas, the interior feels nothing short of class-leading. And the Tech Line model comes with a more sedate black-and-beige theme. Another point worth mentioning is the fact that it is really spacious on the inside, with sufficient room for occupants at the front and rear. Under-thing support at the back could’ve been better, but headroom is more than sufficient.
The number of variants on offer will blow your socks off, which contributes largely to the model’s success, spoiling various customers in the segment. Three engines are available: a 1.0-litre turbo-petrol, a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol and a 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine that is offered in two states of tune: 99bhp and 113bhp. Transmission options include a 7-speed DCT automatic, a 6-speed iMT, a 6-speed torque-converter and a 6-speed manual.
We drove the 1.0-litre turbo petrol and 1.5-litre diesel models. The petrol of the two likes to rev, and feels really quick with ample punch for daily use. And the iMT clutchless automatic it came mated to, provided an effortless driving experience, that too, at a price just a shade over the manual’s. It functions better than most AMTs, and is the more affordable choice, if a fully automatic model is a stretch for you. And to make the most of smooth shifts, let your foot off the throttle when you swap one gear for another.
Driving the Kia Sonet, we thought the ride is a bit stiff, but it tackles bad roads very well, even at high speeds. The steering offers good feel, making it quite a hoot around town.
Small but promising
The Sonet has it all covered: the equipment, the looks, space and comfort and the fantastic quality – all offered at a competitive price, making SUVs from a segment above feel pale in comparison. And with the number of engine and transmission combos on offer, the buyer is simply spoiled for choice. Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.