Test Drive: Kia Sonet

Text: Ankit Tuladhar

Photos: Hritik Shrestha

Until recent times, Kia was a major automotive manufacturing brand globally but didn’t have any presence in the Indian market at all. Kia vehicles were thus available in the Nepali market long before they started getting produced in India. The first Kia vehicle manufactured in India that really made a splash in their market was the Kia Seltos, which shares the same platform as the popular Hyundai Creta. Kia started using the Hyundai Venue platform and gave birth to the Kia Sonet. So how does the Sonet fare? And will it do as well as its elder sibling?


Exterior
The Sonet is a sub 4 metre compact SUV, but it doesn’t come across as a subcompact SUV. The muscular lines on the front bonnet make it look like the vehicle has a wider body that it actually has. The headlight looks clean, with the eyebrow-type LED DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) and LED lights. The signature tiger nose grill, with the chrome underlining, accentuates that muscular feel. The top-spec GT Line variant we reviewed had a GT Line badge on the grill as well, accompanied by red highlights.
The silver accents continue to the lower lip of the bonnet and along the red highlights, a GT Line exclusive design element. The 16-inch dual-tone alloy rims look very attractive, and they up the Sonet’s side profile. The black plastic cladding, which starts from the front lip of the car, goes over the wheel arches and under the door panel to give the vehicle a rugged SUV feel. The red accent continues on the side, along with a red line running from the front door to the rear door.
The rear mimics the front and features tail lights that look similar to the headlights, with the most obvious difference being that the taillights are connected to each other across the rear end. The rear, just like the rest of the vehicle, has a very muscular build. Overall, the Sonet is a very muscular Sub 4 metre compact SUV that looks much bigger than advertised. And that boxy and muscular design gives it a proper SUV feel.


Interior
The GT line variant that we test drove was packed with features and creature comforts, which should make the vehicle stand out in its category. The first thing that grabs your attention when you get into the car are the leather seats. Although the seats are not electronically operated, they are very comfortable. The front two seats are ventilated as well, to make it easier to drive in harsh summer weather. Also, to remind you that you have bought the top-end GT line, the seats have the logo stitched onto them. And if that’s still not enough, the flat-bottom steering wheel, with its logo at the bottom, also reminds you that you have bought the GT line variant.


The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes up most of your attention when you take a look at the dash. The infotainment system comes loaded with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. For audiophiles, Kia has them covered–with speakers from Bose to satisfy their audio needs. The instrument cluster has been given the half-and-half treatment, where half of the information is displayed digitally, while a few things like the RPM meter, fuel meter, etc. are still analogue. The rest of the dash is very neatly laid out, with all the functions and features easily reachable. The only thing I really felt was missing was a physical volume button on the dash, as it is never the same experience when the volume buttons are touch capacitive.

The GT line variant also gets a sunroof to make the Sonet feel more airy and spacious. And since we are talking about space, the tall body design provides occupants with plenty of head room, even for taller passengers. Although the Sonet is a vehicle in the sub 4 metre category, the rear-seat leg room and shoulder space are pretty decent for a vehicle its size. The boot is decently sized as well, so if you want to plan a short trip with your family members then the Sonet will prove to be enough to carry a few days’ worth of luggage for a small family.


Engine
The vehicle we tested was a 1.5L diesel variant, whose engine was paired to a six-speed manual gearbox. The 1.5L engine produces 113.42 Bhp @ 4000 RPM and 250 Nm of torque @1500-2750 RPM. The torque kicks in fairly quick from 1500 RPM and provides a punchy experience. Peak power is produced quite high in the rev range, and the vehicle needs to be revved close to its limiter if you want to enjoy all of its power. The noise insulation is pretty good, so you won’t hear the diesel engine even when you are revving it hard.


Suspension and handling
The Sonet was made largely for the Indian terrain, which is quite similar to how things are here. So it is no surprise that it fares pretty well in our conditions. The vehicle has a soft-sprung suspension setup, so it deals with the undulations of the road rather well, and you will barely notice them, although you will experience a bit of body roll. The steering feel is very well adapted for city and highway cruising, but not so much for extreme corner carving, since it is not designed for it anyway.


Verdict
The Sonet is a vehicle that is placed in a very competitive segment, which features the likes of the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, and Ford Ecosport, so it needs to stand out. The air purifier is a new feature, which was mainly advertised to help reduce airborne viruses. Other features that add to the convenience is a fast wireless charger for compatible phones. The door pockets feature mood lighting that adapts to the beat of the music, which makes for a very funky experience. The vehicle also comes with great safety features such as ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), HAC (Hill Assist Control), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, and a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System). These safety features ensure that you are protected and know the condition of your vehicle at all times. The Sonet starts from NPR 35,90,000 for the base 1.2L HTE variant and NPR 57,90,000 for the 1.5L GTX Plus variant. The Sonet’s features help it stand out from the rest of its competitors, and we believe the market will receive it well.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine Type: 1.5L CRDi VGT
Engine Displacement: 1493 cc
Fuel Type: Diesel
Max Power: 113.42bhp@4000rpm
Emission Norm Compliance: BS VI
Max Torque: 250nm@1500-2750rpm
No of Cylinders: 4
Transmission: Manual
Gear Box: 6 Speed
Drive Type: FWD
Front Suspension: McPherson Strut with Coil Spring
Rear Suspension: Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA) with Coil Spring
Steering Type: Electric
Steering Column: Tilt
Steering Gear Type: Rack & Pinion
Front Brake Type: Disc
Rear Brake Type: Drum
Length (mm): 3995
Width (mm): 1790
Height (mm): 1642
Boot Space (Litres): 392
Seating Capacity: 5
Wheel Base (mm): 2500
No of Doors: 5

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