After lots of teasers and a lot more spy pictures the Kia Sonet was finally showcased in the first week of August. Now, we even got to test out what the new compact SUV from Kia is capable of.
Let’s talk of design first
Overall the Sonet gets an imposing aesthetic. The front has Kia’s signature tiger nose grille flush with multi-segmented 3D inserts which almost make it seem like fur (if you wish to see it that way), and bottomed out with chrome. Flanking this are the LED headlamps with heartbeat LED DRLs that double up as turn indicators.
Off to the side, things get a little tamer, however, with the sharp cuts traded away for simpler curvy lines. At the back again we get to the see the heartbeat element for the tail lamps that are connected by a reflective strip. All of these together give the Sonet styling that some might find to be too much and while the subject on the whole is, well, subjective, we think the masses would love to have something as imposing as the Sonet.
But what about the interiors?
The Sonet does not disappoint on the inside either. There is a proper flush feel to the seats both at the back and the front and there’s absolutely no lack of space, be it headroom or legroom. To make things easier on the hot days, of which we have plenty, the front seats are ventilated.
In the driver’s seat everything wraps around you really nicely. The dash is a nice big screen with a 4.2 inch colour display inserted to give other readouts like tyre pressure, fuel economy or even simple navigation readouts.
The highlights of the cabin, however, are something else entirely. There is absolutely massive 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with UVO Connect, embedded navigation and multi-bluetooth capabilities. Then you have the air purifier as well that gives you a real time reading of the air quality inside the car.
The UVO connect app works wonderfully too, but you do need very good signal strength for the car as well. Engine start and climate control functions from the phone was easy to use but spotty at best. The ‘Hello Kia’ function works seamlessly with your needs. Chat with it, ask it to lower your windows or even about the temperature outside, it functions flawlessly.
How does it drive then?
Getting to the crux of every first drive review, in a simple word, the Sonet is easy. We were testing out the IMT variant which means a manual gear stick, but no clutch pedal. This definitely takes some getting used to, but once you realise your left leg is useless depressing a non-existent clutch, the whole drive becomes so much easier. It essentially works as an AMT gearbox – you hold down the brake, shift into first and the car starts rolling.
Of course you have to make the gear changes manually and for this, Kia has integrated a position indicator as well as suggestions on when to shift and to which gear. This, however, is tuned to be more fuel efficient and can sometimes be impeding when trying to overtake. But this is merely a suggestion, so feel free to shift gear when you want to.
Steering is light and crisp, but there is a lack of feel from the road. The feel from the engine too is substantial. We had the 1-litre T-GDi turbo-petrol engine and just like any turbo, there did seem to be a little lag before all 120 horses and 172 newtons came out to play.
Overall, the Kia Sonet stands tall against its rivals. If the Seltos was anything to go by, you can see the Sonet taking on just as good a sales number. With looks that can turn heads from any direction and features fit to keep even the passengers pre-occupied, it’s hard to see what’s lacking from the Sonet. Maybe, the kitchen sink?