Kia Sonet Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Kia Sonet.
Car Tested: Kia Sonet GTX+ Diesel AT; Road Test No. 1217; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 7.89 – 14.43 lakhs
The Sonet gets an eye-catchy design, impressive features and multiple powertrain options but this segment has lots of worthy rivals
Every manufacturer wants a slice of the pie in the compact SUV segment. We have the Maruti Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300 and Ford EcoSport already. Kia received immense success with the Seltos and the Korean automaker is now venturing in the compact SUV space with the Sonet.
MotorQuest : The Sonet is Kia’s third offering for the Indian auto market. This is an all-new vehicle and it made its world debut only recently. Kia had showcased the concept (near-production) version of the Sonet at the 2020 Auto Expo. While the Sonet is a new product, it does share its underpinnings with the ever so popular Hyundai Venue. The Sonet is manufactured at Kia’s Anantapur plant in Andhra Pradesh.
Exteriors – The Kia Sonet does look very stylish. The design has a lot of bold elements, the attention to detail is impressive and the quality is also quite nice. Being a sub-4-metre car it’s not too big and the compact size is apparent from the side. The front looks smart while the rear has a flat design. The LED headlamps have a smart design and the grille looks quite nice. Being the GT Line variant, our test car has some red accents on the grille, wheels and doors. Even the brake callipers are finished in red.
The Sonet has lots of sharp design elements which appeal to the youth but there are people who also prefer cleaner designs
The Sonet shares its platform with the Hyundai Venue and the length and wheelbase of both these cousins are identical but the Sonet is wider and taller by 20 mm and 42 mm respectively. The Sonet also gets 4 different wheel designs depending on the variant! The build quality and the fit & finish feel good and the quality of the paint is also nice. However, the Sonet hasn’t been crash-tested yet.
Interiors – The interiors feel premium and there’s a generally good vibe in the cabin of the Sonet. You either get dual-tone interiors or a full black theme with red stitching if you opt for the GT Line trim. The dashboard has an ergonomic design, the steering wheel is similar to the Seltos but the AC control buttons look too basic. The front seats are brilliant in terms of comfort and space. They are well-bolstered and the support seems good enough for long drives. The rear seats are nicely shaped but the Sonet isn’t very spacious at the rear. Legroom is more or less similar to the Venue. Taller passengers will find their knees brushing against the front seat if there’s a tall passenger sitting at the front too. Rear passengers also get AC vents and a USB charging socket.
The Kia Sonet is possibly the most feature-loaded car in this segment
The equipment list is extremely long and the Sonet gets a ton of features like sunroof, ventilated seats, wireless charging, 57 UVO connected car features with remote engine start even for the manual variant, perfume dispenser, front & rear parking sensors, reverse parking camera, mood lighting and air purifier, apart from the usual features like keyless go, engine start/stop button, automatic climate control and LED lights.
The Kia Sonet gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment which is shared with the Seltos. It gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, AI voice commands, Bluetooth and USB. The screen is fluid to use, feels quite large in a car of this size and the 7 Bose speakers throw out brilliant sound, one of the best in this segment.
While the front seats are spacious and supportive, the rear seats feel tight and won’t be able to seat three people comfortably
Yes, the Sonet gets a fair amount of storage spaces in the cabin. All the doors get bottle holders and some cubbyholes but the rear doors get smaller storage bins. The centre console also gets some spaces to keep your phone and wallet along with cupholders. The rear armrest also gets cupholders. The Sonet has a boot capacity of 392-litres which is the highest in this segment. The boot is shaped well and yes the capacity is more than enough.
Performance – We drove the 1.5 diesel AT which makes 115 HP and 250 Nm. The AT variant makes 15 HP and 10 Nm more than the MT variant because this gets VGT, unlike the latter which gets FGT. Performance is very good and the lag is also nicely kept under control. The engine makes good progress in the mid-range but performance starts dying out in the top end. These figures are similar to the Creta, Verna and Seltos and those cars feel peppy enough, so imagine how much peppier the smaller Sonet feels. Gathering pace is easy, quick overtakes are easy and not once does this engine feel lacking in power. Refinement is very good too and the diesel clatter isn’t very loud.
The diesel engine has more than enough power for city as well as highway driving and the driving modes work well too.
The diesel engine gets a 6-speed manual or a torque convertor. The AT feels smooth and quick and there’s not much delay between gearshifts. Of course, having driven the Seltos DCT, the DCT is way better than the torque convertor but the Sonet has an upper hand in this segment because it is the only proper diesel automatic while the others get an AMT or only MT with diesel.
The Kia Sonet gets three driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. These modes alter the power delivery and the engine feels quite relaxed in Eco mode while in Sport it feels more eager. Normal mode is a good balance between Eco and Sport. Out of all the diesel compact SUVs, the Sonet is the most efficient having ARAI figures of 24.1 km/l (MT) and 19 km/l (AT). Even if we talk about petrol, only the Maruti Vitara Brezza has better ARAI figures than this. Real-world figures of the Sonet are more or less similar to that of the Venue.
Driving Dynamics – The Kia Sonet has neutral handling characteristics. There is a slight amount of body roll which can be felt when you push the car but it’s not too bad. The car is fairly composed at high speeds. While the steering is very light at city speeds, it lacks feedback and feels vague even though it weighs up a bit as you go higher up the speedo.
The light steering makes the Sonet extremely easy to drive but at the same time it feels vague at the centre and lacks feedback
The suspension has been tuned slightly towards the stiffer side. At low speeds over bad roads, the ride feels a bit firm but on smooth tarmac and even at high speeds, the ride is quite flat and vertical movement in the cabin is very limited. You get three traction modes – Sand, Mud and Snow but we couldn’t really experience them properly. Is the Sonet fun to drive? It depends on how you look at it. If you want quick acceleration, you’ll find the Sonet fun to drive. If you want involving driving dynamics like a feelsome steering, solid body control when you drive aggressively on the twisties, you won’t find the Sonet fun to drive. We drove the diesel AT and while it is quick enough, it’s not too exciting. I believe the turbo petrol variant will be more fun. Braking performance is just fine, you get the standard front disc and rear drum layout and as such, there’s no reason to complain but a sharper bite would’ve been welcome.
Safety And After Sales Service – While the Sonet hasn’t been crash-tested yet, it does get a long list of safety tech like 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Hill Start Assist, ESC, VSM, Brake Assist, TPMS and ISOFIX child seat mounts. Kia is still new in the Indian market which is why the sales and service network is still limited compared to Maruti, Hyundai, Tata, etc. The company is expanding its network but even now they have most major cities covered.
Verdict – There are so many compact SUVs available on sale that choosing one becomes really difficult. The Sonet offers a fresh design, tons of features and multiple powertrain options so yes there’s something for every kind of buyer. Everything depends on the pricing now and if priced right, the Sonet is expected to replicate the success of the Seltos. If there’s a Kia dealership in your city or town, it is worth taking a test drive of this car and if there isn’t, well this segment isn’t short of options.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Maruti Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300, Ford EcoSport
Further Reading –
Kia Sonet First Look & Walkaround – Hindi [Video]