Kia Sonet: The Wild One | Test Drive, Review
B-segment compact SUVs are to the automotive sector what Crocs were to people in mid-2010. Everybody wants one and you can’t go more than 10 mins without seeing it on the road. These cars are the hottest thing in the market. The popularity of the segment stems from the desires of people to own full-size SUVs but the inability to afford them. In time, these compact SUVs began to make more and more sense. Instead of a behemoth that takes up two parking spaces and chugs fuel like a thirsty camel, you get a more compact SUV that is easier to live with. While the shrinking dimensions and engine displacement might ruffle the feathers of many auto enthusiasts, in terms of practicality and economy, compact SUVs run away with the prize.
Manufacturers were quick to get into the rat-race, and as a result, the automotive market is teeming with plenty of options. Kia’s latest bid to achieve pole position comes in the form of the Kia Sonet, the wild one. You get 4 variants to choose from for the Sonet, starting with the base HTE variant followed by the HTX and HTK+. Topping the lineup is the GTX+ which we drive here.
The Kia Sonet is a handsome-looking machine that manages to stand out in the crowded segment. It has a sharp and aggressive design that is highlighted by Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille with a thick chrome border. The GT Line is recognizable by the red accents on the piano black grille. On either side of the grille are crown jewel LED headlamps with DRLs that double as turn indicators. The bulbous bonnet and sharp-cut bumper get muscular contours.
In order to give the Sonet some extra oomph, Kia has installed flared wheel arches, body cladding, and roof rails. The 16-inch alloy cut wheels look good on the profile of the Sonet. The muscular design rounds out at the end with the C-pillar that gets piano black inserts that provide a wraparound effect. Around the back it gets a connected tail light with heartbeat LED tail lamps that add a defining styling element to the Sonet.
Interior and features
Kia has been finding success in providing an upmarket feel to their cars, and they have done just that with the Sonet. Step inside the cabin of the Sonet and you get an all-black interior garnished with silver and piano black inserts. While there is a lot of hard plastic used, it is of high quality.
The seats are comfortable and provide enough space for comfort. The 3 spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel gets rake adjustment but misses out on telescopic adjustment. Behind the steering wheel, you get an instrument cluster that displays a wide range of telltale signals such as the fuel gauge, tachometer, temperature display, a digital speedometer, tyre pressure monitoring, average fuel consumption, distance to empty counter, position of the lights/wipers and a few more.
On the center console, you get a driver-oriented floating touchscreen head-unit. The 10.25-inch HD touchscreen unit is responsive and easy to operate. The Sonet also gets Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Apart from the entertainment controls, the system also lets you control the cabin air purifier with virus protection and a perfume dispenser (a first-in-segment feature). You can also control the cabin mood lighting to keep glowing in your chosen hue or flash according to the music being played. And since we are on the topic, the Bose speaker system sounds tremendous.
Air conditioning vents are uniquely designed and get eco coating technology that prevents the smell you get that comes with most air conditioners. Another notable feature is the cooled seats for driver and passenger. The sunroof is always a crowd favorite and the Kia Sonet gets an adequately sized one that floods the cabin with light.
While the Kia Sonet is comfortable, it is not what you would call spacious. The rear seat adequately seats three medium-sized adults. Legroom is also compromised. However, you do get rear air-con vents which will be very welcome once summer comes around. The boot is amongst the largest in the segment with 392 liters capacity. While the seats do fold down for more space, the floor doesn’t flatten out.
Powering the Kia Sonet GT Line is a 1.5-liter diesel mill with turbochargers. This churns out 100BHP of maximum power and 240NM of peak torque. Right away you can tell that the engine is refined and keen to perform. In the city, where you are bound to be most of the time, the power can be delivered in a calm manner. You can go about your errands with the calm music playing through the high-quality Bose speakers. However, the Sonet GT Line can make life more interesting if you ask it to.
We managed to put plenty of miles on the Kia Sonet on the tarmac. The GT Line badge really comes into play when you work the engine. We found ourselves revving the engine right up to the limiter whenever we found an open stretch of road. Overtaking maneuvers don’t stress you out and you don’t find yourself struggling for power. We can definitely see ourselves enjoying the Kia Sonet on a long drive through the scenic hill roads of Nepal.
The ride and handling is also well-tuned, especially for people who enjoy driving. The suspension setup is moderately stiff which makes for more driving fun around corners. Body rolls also appear to be well managed. However, large road undulations will not go unnoticed.
Now that we are on the subject of road undulations, we might as well talk about the off-road capabilities of the Sonet. While buyers might not be keen on taking the Kia Sonet offroad a lot, we did take the Sonet off the tarmac. The ground clearance was pretty impressive and the Sonet managed to take more than we put in its path. However, the stiff suspension did take a beating and with a heavy load and AC on, the engine struggled to tackle steep, rough climbs.
Kia has come out with yet another winner in our books. The Kia Sonet GT Line is a car that is great for the family and for the driving enthusiast. It does the job of standing out from the crowd with its muscular design and on the road, it performs well. The stiff suspension works for it in terms of rider engagement and fun, but on rough terrain, the suspension takes the brunt.
Overall, the Kia Sonet provides a decent package and makes a strong statement for its position in the compact SUV segment. Prices for the Kia Sonet start at Rs. 35.90 Lakhs. The GT Line is priced at Rs. 57.90 Lakh.