The SUV is offered with three engines — four if you count different outputs — and five gearboxes
Kia’s Sonet is an all-new model, a compact SUV which shares its platform with a Hyundai stablemate — the Venue. But while their underpinnings are the same, they share very little when it comes to the exterior and interior. So, what is the Sonet like?
The Sonet’s front carries Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, and is flanked by slim LED headlights with the signature ‘heartbeat’ DRLs. Below it sits a sharply cut bumper with fog lights and a faux skid plate. The most defining element though is the C-pillar that appears swept back, thanks to the inset quarter glass and black-out treatment. The alloys are also quite striking. At the rear, the tail-lights too have the ‘heartbeat’ DRL signature. A faux skid plate with an integrated faux diffuser and dummy exhausts round off the rear end.
Inside, the Sonet really scores in terms of material quality, fit and finish — it could rival cars from higher segments. The textured dashboard top, chunky steering wheel, and the tactile feel of all the switchgear are top class. Taking centre stage on the dashboard is the massive 10.25-inch touchscreen — the largest in class. It is sharp, offers split screen functionality and comes with the brand’s UVO connectivity suite. You also get ‘Hello Kia’ voice commands to control various settings.
There is plenty of equipment too: a seven-speaker Bose audio system, an air purifier with UVC light, ventilated front seats, and a HEPA filter that the company says kills viruses. The safety kit includes six airbags, ABS and ESC besides front and rear parking sensors. The rear is relatively cramped and best for two not-too-tall passengers. The seat itself is quite comfy with plush padding, though thigh support is a bit short. The front seats, however, are large and well bolstered.
- LENGTH 3995mm
- WIDTH 1790mm
- HEIGHT 1642mm
- WHEELBASE 2500mm
- TYRE SIZE 215/60 R16
- FUEL TANK CAPACITY
- 45 litres
- BOOT CAPACITY 392 litres
- ENGINE 998cc, 3-cyls, turbo-petrol;
- 1493cc, 4-cyls,
- POWER 120hp at 6000rpm;
- 115hp at 4000rpm
- TORQUE 172Nm at 1500-4000rpm;
- 250Nm at 1500-2750rpm
- GEARBOX 6-speed clutchless manual/7-speed dual-clutch auto;
- 6-speed auto
The Sonet is offered with three engines — four if you count different outputs — and five gearboxes. There is a base 83hp 1.2-litre petrol paired with a 5-speed manual; a 120hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol mated to a 7-speed DCT or 6-speed iMT; and a 1.5-litre diesel in two states of tune — 100hp, 240Nm when paired with a 6-speed manual, and 115hp, 250Nm with a 6-speed torque converter. For this review, we drove both versions of the turbo-petrol along with the diesel-auto.
The diesel-auto has the same powertrain as the Seltos, putting out 115hp and 250Nm. Refinement is top-notch as is performance; there is very little turbo lag. There is a step-up in power delivery post 2,000rpm and you get a satisfyingly seamless surge of power up to 4,200rpm, post which the gearbox will upshift even in manual mode. The auto box is also well matched to the diesel’s torque spread. In Normal mode, it seldom feels like it is in the wrong gear and when you try to accelerate, it will drop just the right number of cogs to give you enough grunt.
Sport mode lets you hold onto gears for longer, but the Normal mode is useable and intuitive; it will be enough for everyday driving. There is also an Eco mode that does not throttle the engine’s performance.
In the turbo-petrol variant, the engine is balanced and refined; it gets vocal only near the redline. The punchy midrange and the ease with which it builds power makes it a fun drive. The DCT gearbox is not as good as VW’s DSG unit and tends to get tripped up at slow speeds. The iMT, in comparison, offers you more control over gearshifts, though the unit itself does its best work during relaxed driving.
In testing, it was the diesel-auto that was the quickest, clocking in a 0-100kph time of 11.48sec, compared to the petrol DCT’s 12.25sec and 13.37sec for the iMT. The Sonet also easily soaked up massive potholes; the fat 215/60 R16 tyres did a good job of smothering rain-ravaged roads.
The slightly nose-heavy diesel has a marginally heavier steering while the petrol felt a bit more agile. Both cars offer a great degree of confidence at high speeds. Grip through the corners is also good, and body roll is well contained. The steering does not offer much feedback, but it is light enough in the city and has enough weight at higher speeds.
It is hard to fault the Sonet aside from its not-so-spacious rear seat. It is beautifully styled and has striking details. Of course, pricing is a key factor in the Sonet’s ultimate success, but there is no doubt that Kia has another winner on its hands.
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