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Kia Sonet intends to create a new wave in the subcompact SUV segment. Can it supersede its competitors like the highly popular Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue and Tata Nexon among others, well let us find out?
The Sonet is the third offering from Kia Motors India after the Seltos and Carnival in the Indian market. Targeting the rather re-emerging subcompact SUV segment, can the Sonet push the bar one notch above the two products launched already by the Korean automaker; we try to find the answer.
Kia Sonet is the latest entrant to the segment, standing tall on the ‘Make in India’ commitment by the manufacturer. An attractive looking SUV, the Sonet was first showcased at Auto Expo 2020 in the form of a Concept. However, now that we see it in the production ready avtar, this one carries forward quite a few design elements from the Concept itself. This is a blessing in disguise considering that the vehicle offers more moolah in comparison to most of the competition in its class.
Its two main rivals Maruti Vitara Brezza and Hyundai Venue have a set appeal but when it comes to the Sonet, there is umpteen amount of curiosity pertaining to its design. Without wasting much more time let's get right into the exterior look of the SUV. Lavish and upmarket, the Sonet’s front end design features the famous 'Tiger Nose' grille with a chrome garnish, and then there are LED headlamps with daytime running lights (DRLs) clubbed with projector fog lights and turn indicators. The bumper is offered with a skid plate, thereby giving it the much-needed SUVish look. Further, the presence of 16-inch alloy wheels add character while the sturdy wheel arches help in establishing its appeal in reference to the side profile. As for the rear, the main highlight is its LED tail lamp cluster which runs right across the tailgate. Other styling elements such as diffuser fin, skid plate, reflector garnish and dual muffler lend it a unique feel. On the whole, the exterior design of the subcompact SUV in our opinion is going to excite consumers for what it has to offer. On a wider scale, baring the Hyundai Venue, there is not any other vehicle that matches up to the design of the Sonet.
Since we tend to spend a lot of our time inside the cabin while traveling, it’s imperative that the interior needs to be smart and user friendly. With the Kia Sonet, the dual tone finish helps in providing a very airy ambiance and not to forget the sunroof, which has been clubbed into the package. The quality of plastic used here is also fairly good. Its dashboard is what will attract buyers due to the presence of a 10.25-inch horizontally placed floating infotainment system which is the biggest in its class and certainly the highlighting part over here. The unit comes compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Further playing up with the notion of connected technology, the SUV stands to provide 57 UVO Connected Car features with OTA map update, wake up command with driver up/down. What this means is that with a simple voice command, the driver can either open or close his side of the window without having to use his right hand. As for the instrument cluster, the 4.2-inch unit looks funky considering that this type of component is becoming more and more prevalent in the upcoming Kia models. Above it, sits a flat bottom steering with mounted controls. The grip of the steering wheel is also very decent as is the build quality of switches which feels very upmarket. Talking about the AC vents, their vertical appearance adds a certain amount of swag both up front and towards the rear. Rather than rotary controls for air-conditioning, there are switches that provide the cabin a sophisticated feel. Keeping up with that, there are perforated leatherette seats that offer ample cushioning with decent under thigh support. In reference to space, there is a decent amount of leg, shoulder, and legroom. A key highlight over here is the inclusion of ventilated front seats that comes in very handy, especially in the Indian climatic conditions. Personally, from a user’s perspective, I liked its driving position that gives a clear view of the road ahead. Speaking of safety features, the Sonet comes fitted with airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, Isofix child anchorages etc. among the rest. Overall, the interior is a very nice place to be in.
Kia Motors India is offering a variety of engine options with the Sonet. However, the ones that we got to sample for the first drive were the 1.5-litre diesel and the 1.0-litre turbo petrol. These are the same power plants that can also be found in the Hyundai Venue. Talking first about the diesel, this one was the 1.5-litre CRDi unit that delivers 98bhp power and 240Nm peak torque. Having put it through the pace, this engine feels responsive, refined and the NVH levels are also well contained. Coming equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the shifts here are smooth as butter. Keeping our Indian road conditions in mind, the ride quality is impressive on this SUV courtesy the brilliant suspension set-up. Thus, going over potholes and broken roads is a cake walk. As for handling, no matter what the surface, it never makes you feel unsettled. In fact, the direction that you would like to point it towards, the Sonet would obediently follow it.
Now onto the petrol, this is the more fun to drive version due to the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine under the hood. It produces a maximum power output of 118bhp with 172 Nm of peak torque. The engine in particular feels very agile while being used through its paces. Its linear acceleration is a delight while the 6-Speed iMT on-board does well to provide good shifts. Talking about this gearbox, the absence of a clutch does take a bit of time getting used to, though the manual shifting adds a bit of flavour to the overall driving experience. In the department of ride and handling, this petrol is at par with its diesel sibling.
What it is worth, Kia Sonet is going to attract many towards it. This is for the fact that the subcompact SUV offers an aggressive and upmarket exterior design. In comparison, when we look at the Hyundai Venue it could possibly match up to the SUV but when we refer to the Maruti Vitara Brezza there is just no competition. Peeking into the interior, there again with the kind of features being offered here and the level of comfort, the overall on-board experience is taken to an all-new level. While diesel and petrol powertrains that we got to sample stated just one thing that the Kia Sonet is here to create a new wave in the subcompact SUV segment. Priced between Rs 6.71 lakhs to Rs 11.99 lakhs (ex-showroom), the Sonet is a great choice as your next purchase.
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