We get behind the wheel of the all new KIA Sonet amidst the pandemic, here’s more…
Words: Neeraj Padmakumar
Kia is gearing up to launch its third product for India later this month. With the pandemic doing a fair share in messing things up for us, we were sent a unit of the compact SUV to sample. We drove it for an entire day and with all COVID protocols well adhered to. Here’s what we have to say…
The Sonet is essentially a compact SUV that would rival the likes of the Hyundai Venue, Suzuki Brezza, and Tata Nexon upon launch. It would be offered in two trim lines viz Tech line and GT line. The GT line is the sportier guise and has excessive use of red in the overall design. Our test car belonged to the GT line and had a diesel engine.
The Sonet looks absolutely stunning. Kia’s designers have done fabulous jobs drawing this car. It has a prominent tiger-nose grille with sporty red accents and a GT Line badging. The Crown Jewel LED headlamps have LED DRLs that double as turn signal lamps as well. The fog lamps are halogen units that resemble those of the Seltos in design. The bonnet gets prominent air domes and sharp lines. The front end looks a bit overstyled, especially towards the lower end.
The profile looks sporty, thanks to the slightly increased front overhangs and the cut-short rear ones. The Sonet has 16-inch crystal cut alloys with Apollo rubber on them. The GT Line has wheel caps and brake calipers finished in red. The door handles are chrome plated and there is a strip of chrome running along the beltline as well. The rear windshield looks as if it has a wraparound design, which is not the case, thanks to the gloss black fiber inserts on the sides. The car also has a pair of faux roof rails finished in satin silver. The SUV gets a ground clearance of 205mm, which is quite evident from the sides.
Sonet’s rear design may not please everyone alike. However, we found it absolutely catchy. The LED tail lamps are unique to the higher variants. The GT Line also gets a diffuser fin design for the rear bumper with dual muffler tips, while the lower trims come with skid plates.
What has really made the design of this car stand out is the fact that there has been a judicious use of chrome on it. Things like the red finish on the strip that runs along the running board on the sides could have avoided though, as it looked bizarre to our eyes.
The tech-line gets a black-beige dual-tone interior colour scheme, while our GT line test car had an all-black cabin, with plenty of red in it. The multifunction flat-bottom steering wheel gets a leather wrap with contrast red stitching and a GT line badge. It has rake adjustment but not reach. The Sonet GT line gets ventilated front seats with prominent shades of red in its design. They offer good amount of support and are very comfortable to be in.
The central arena gets an 8 inch touchscreen and Arkymis sound system on the lower trims while the GT line has a large 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system and BOSE premium audio with as many as 7 speakers. The touchscreen is very responsive and well laid out. It gets Apple Car Play, Android Auto and a Bluetooth Multilink system that provides for easy connection of more than one mobile phone via Bluetooth. The audio quality from the BOSE unit is top-notch, and that from the Arkymis unit pretty decent as well. The system also has a precise navigation system with OTA updates for the maps.
However, what we did not like about this infotainment screen is the fact that it has no physical controls. All the buttons are touch-sensitive and demand a major distraction from the road, each time he wishes to do something on it.
The instrument cluster has a digital speedometer, analogue gauges for the tacho, temperature and fuel, and a 4.2-inch colour Driver information screen (The lower trims get mono-colour units though.) We are in no way fans of this digital speedometer and believe that an analogue unit would have been smoother and better.
There is an overall air of premiumness inside the cabin of the Sonet. The material quality feels premium in most places. However, the material quality of the AC controls could have been improved. The car also has modern-day fancies like a wireless charger and sunroof. It also gets the ‘UVO connect’ connected car system from Kia. The Sonet also has a Smart Pure air purification system which Kia claims, would kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses inside the cabin.
The rear seat of the Sonet offers decent leg, knee, and shoulder rooms for two. There is plenty of headroom though. However, packing three full-grown adults at the back would be a bit cumbersome, but not impossible. The car feels to be quite roomy for its actual size, Kia’s designers have worked really hard here indeed. There is a decent 392L boot too.
The Sonet gets three engine and 4 transmission options in India. It comes with a 1.2L petrol, 1.5L diesel and a 1.0L turbo petrol engines and has a 6AT, iMT, 7DCT and 5MT transmissions to choose from. Our test car had the 1.5 diesel engine mated to the 6AT. This engine has a Variable Geometry turbocharger that minimizes the turbo lag and gives an early boost. This engine-gearbox combo produces 115hp and 250Nm, quite adequate for an impressive drive experience.
The turbo spools at around 1700 rpm and there is a great torque delivery upto say 3200 rpm. The shifts are quite decent and efficient. The steering has decent feedback, which marginally improves in SPORT mode. The suspension seems to be a bit on the stiffer side. One would not complain of the ride quality though. However, the Sonet is not something that you would feel confident to floor the gas past 100kmph.
The Sonet gets Drive and Traction mode selections. There are three different drive modes- Eco, Normal, and Sport, which alters the throttle response and gear ratios, and the traction modes include Snow, Mud, and Sand. Engaging the traction brings out a prominent change in the character of the car. However, the actual differences between the various traction modes turned out to be nominal.
Fuel Efficiency And Price:
On the economy front, expect the Sonet to return close to 14-16 real world figures. Our test car returned 11.5 kmpl even after being driven brutally for an entire day! There is no clue as of now on the pricing of this car, but we expect it to be on par with that of the Hyundai Venue.