The all-new and first-ever Kia Sonet subcompact SUV has made its global debut. The production version of the car was unveiled in a ‘world premiere’ event held in India – but was presented digitally given the on-going pandemic. There has been so much anticipation around the Sonet – a car that was in the works even before Kia opened its innings in India a year ago. And yes, the Kia Sonet is intended to be a global model. But like the Seltos a year ago, the little sibling is also hitting our market first. So expect the Indian market launch and price announcement in September. Now the Seltos has been a runaway success here in the country, so can the Sonet dominate this other high volume SUV segment too?
Watch Our First Look Video Of The Kia Sonet
Also Read: Kia Sonet Global Debut Live Updates
What is the Sonet?
The Kia Sonet is a subcompact SUV, which means it also has a footprint that sits below four metres. But it manages to still be extremely proportionate and exude a strong SUV character in its design. This is a good looking car, and stays very true to the Sonet concept that was unveiled at the Delhi Auto Expo in February this year. Much like the Seltos, the Kia Sonet has two trims – the GT Line and the Tech Line. It does have a two tone roof option that straight away puts it on trend. The Sonet is more squarish and tall, sort of like the Ford EcoSport, unlike the majority of rivals that are more rectangular. I am referring to cars like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Mahindra XUV 300, and Hyundai Venue. The upright and muscular design is dominated by a raised hood with scooped out musculature on the two sides, and an almost power-dome like raised centre. The large trademark Kia tiger nose front grille is what will draw your attention – especially on the GT Line – where it is finished in gloss black and has red elements all through. The red bits continue into the bumper – which too has a chunkier design with feline mouth like element sitting between the fog lamps. That is just on the GT Line. On the Tech-Line, it is a more simplistic horizontal design. The signature ‘heartbeat’ design daytime running lights give the car a modern look.
Good Looks Go A Long Way
The chunky, upright bumpers and face, are complemented by the roof rails, and a very vertical rear too. The car looks dynamic from the sides and rear, with the same heartbeat motif running through the LED taillights. At the back the two taillights are almost conjoined by a red reflector (unlit) element that spans across the tailgate. That helps give the car visual width and appears very modern. If only it was actually lit, for that would have made the car even more distinct at night. The faux twin exhaust like design element that sits low in the rear bumper complements this well. Overall, the Sonet has a very attractive design and while looking modern will not be as polarising as the above mentioned rivals – especially the Venue and the XUV 300.
The Kia Sonet will get its own new colour as well, the gold you see on the GT-Line variant in our photos. The Tech-Line variant you see is in the traditional dark red – which is also the colour you will see in all the communication from the brand. Like the red, the rest of the colours will be what you have seen on the Seltos. So if like me, you too were hoping for bright racing blue or a bright yellow – its sadly not happening. The Sonet does well on bootspace, which looks to be ample for a subcompact.
Also Read: Kia Sonet Concept: Things We Know So Far
Engines and Variants
The Kia Sonet shares its platform with cars like the Hyundai Venue and Grand i10 Nios. And so like the Venue the Sonet sports three engine options. The petrol side will have the 1.0 GDI turbo and the 1.2 – while the diesel will be the 1.5 common rail. Kia had already announced at the auto expo that there there will be a variant with IMT or intelligent manual transmission. The Hyundai Venue recently received this variant too. The transmission is expected only on the 1.0 GDI, which also has the option of the 7 Speed DCT or dual clutch automatic transmission. I am expecting a lot of variants at launch and pricing should fall in the ₹ 7-12 lakh band.
The GDI automatic gets a huge ‘7DCT’ badge high on the right front fender. It is okay to have variant badging, but given the size of the car this is way too big! It almost seems like MG came and did this badging! The IMT variant also has an IMT badge, but it’s a smaller, subtler size. But for me the fact that the Sonet will also get a diesel automatic – a segment first by the way – is the real trump card. A diesel auto is a great idea, as its sorely missing in this segment. I welcome that move from Kia. The brand does have the ‘power to surprise’ after all doesn’t it? Even the Seltos had impressed with its multiple gearbox offer, and the Sonet follows suit. Excellent!
Interior Fit and Features
After the Seltos and the Carnival, it’s not wrong to expect the cabin on the Kia Sonet to be well kitted and impressive. The good news is – that it lives up to that expectation. I have only seen the fully loaded variants – in both trims – and so while we await variant specifications, suffice to say the top end is loaded to the gills. We never got to see the cabin at the Auto Expo, and so this layout is new to us. The massive 10.25-inch touchscreen and digital instrument cluster are what will grab your attention first off. The largest in class screen is impressive and comes loaded with all the entertainment, navigation and connectivity features the Seltos has pampered us with. This puts it on par with its fiercest rivals, and ahead of most.
This instrument display is smart, modern, and different. It houses a 4.2-inch screen display that has lots of information. That includes turn-by-turn navigation, a trip computer, tyre pressure monitoring, and even tells you which drive mode you are in. I like the chunky and large buttons that comprise the climate control system below the screen, as it gives the car a young feel.
The front AC vents are finished in high gloss black plastic, and are extremely different in shape and finish. They also have this signature geometric pattern at the bottom – just as you see in the front grille and also in the gearbox housing. There is a GT-Line badge on the steering and seats, and you also get red stitching and some red elements on the steering, seats, doors and dash. The GT-Line’s all-black treatment does work as it makes the cabin loom sporty. My fear was it would make the cabin appear small but thankfully that is not the case.
The Tech-Line will give you a lighter palette on the seats and the lower half of the doors and dash. While there are plenty of similarities on features, the visual look is very different as a result. The Sonet gets a sunroof at the top end, besides that big screen and a whole bunch of other goodies. A 7-speaker Bose sound system, LED sound mood lamps, wireless phone charging tray, UVO Connect sim-enabled telematics and connectivity, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the Sonet is programmed to receive over the air updates for maps and navigation. Then there are ventilated front seats, and an air purifier that comes with virus protection. That’s very apt given the Covid times we live in.
Also Read: Kia Sonet: What To Expect
At the rear, the cabin is compact and yet does not give you a sense of being cramped. There is a small design detail – sort of like a quarter-glass element in the C pillar that helps enhance the feeling of space. On a subcompact, that’s smart and I I’ll take it. Legroom is decent, headroom is great, and the seat – while upright has a comfortable back angle and good under-thigh support. Rear AC vents (finished the same way as in front), a rear USB charging point, drop down armrest with cupholders,
Safety is well addressed. Two-thirds of the chassis is made up of advanced high strength steel, making for a frame that is light and strong. The Sonet gets up to six airbags, anti-lock brakes, hill assist, stability control, brake assist and ISOFIX anchors for child seats. I am waiting for the time when at least one carmaker decides to provide a three-point seatbelt for the middle rear passenger. Like most India models, the Sonet too gets just a lap belt – which by law is all you need of course.
Also Read: Kia Sonet Concept Revealed
Rivals and Launch Info
Besides the Hyundai Venue, the Sonet also needs to take on the Tata Nexon, Mahindra XUV 300, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport, the upcoming Nissan Magnite and Toyota Urban Cruiser, and to an extent the Honda WR-V too. The Kia Sonet launches by mid-September. And I reckon this is another potential blockbuster in the making for Kia.