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Old 11th September 2020, 19:00   #1
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Default Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-1.jpg

The Kia Sonet was previewed by Team-BHP on August 7, 2020. Click here to read that detailed report!

Now, I got to drive the 1.5L Diesel AT and 1.0L Turbo-Petrol iMT variants of the car for a day. Here are my observations.


• Kia's "top down" approach to India has proven effective. It's a bargain brand in many countries, but has a certain allure in India. Launching the fully-loaded Seltos & 35-lakh Carnival first, and then the Sonet has its benefits. Strategy wouldn't have been as effective the other way around (i.e. if the Sonet was launched first).

• The initial market response to the Kia Sonet has been good. Kia claims that it received 6,523 bookings for the car on the first day itself when bookings opened on August 20.

• The Sonet is a handsome car and looks like nothing else in the segment. It is easy to recognize as a Kia with the company’s signature “tiger nose” grille.

• Body cladding, roof rails, skid plates and flared wheel arches give this Compact SUV a rugged appearance.

• Chrome has been used around the foglamps, on the door handles and the window line. It’s only the application on the door handles that looks overdone & after-market-type.

• Like the Seltos & Creta, this is almost identical to the Venue under the skin.

• The car draws a lot of attention on the road. Car owners, bikers, pedestrians etc. all turned around to check out our test car. Some drivers and riders even changed course to get a closer look at it.

• Like the Seltos, the Sonet will be available in 2 variant categories – Tech Line and GT Line. Both categories will come in 3 variants - HTE / GTE, HTK / GTK and HTX / GTX, where E stands for Energy, K for Klass and X for eXtreme.

• GT Line gets red highlights on the grille, bumpers, body cladding and alloy wheels. Opinions about these are divided.

• The Sonet's wheels are the right size (16”). But the 215/60 section MRF Wanderer tyres lack grip & are typical...well, MRFs. We recommend an upgrade as soon as delivery of the car is taken.

Interior - Front

• Ingress & egress are easy for all, including the elderly, thanks to the comparatively low floor and high roof.

• All-black interiors go well with the sporty external appearance of the Sonet. The cabin looks modern and with the times. Red contrast stitching lends a youthful look to the interiors.

• While black will be easier to live with and keep from getting soiled, a lighter shade would have given an airier feel. The all-black cabin feels tight. A dual-tone black & beige theme is available, but you have to opt for the Tech Line for that.

• All plastics used in the cabin are hard, yet of good quality. The leatherette inserts on the doorpads are the only soft material used.

• Piano black and silver inserts at various places give the dashboard a classy appearance.

• Ergonomics are spot on. Everything is exactly where it is expected to be and easy to reach. This is typical of Hyundais & now Kia.

• Cabin width is fair for a compact SUV and you won’t feel like you are sitting too close to the front passenger. It’s not quite as wide as the Tata Nexon though.

• Frontal visibility is good, but the C-pillars are thick, which hampers all-round visibility.

• Flat-bottom, leather steering with thumb contours has the right thickness and is a joy to hold. It comes with rake adjustment, but cannot be adjusted for reach. The Ford EcoSport remains the only sub-4 m crossover to offer that very-useful feature.

• Like I’ve observed in Hyundai–Kia cars, there are too many buttons on the steering wheel. There will be times when you press the wrong button.

• Digital speedometer gives an accurate reading, but the revv-counter is C-shaped and its difficult to tell the exact rpm. MID relays enough information and thankfully, analogue fuel and temperature gauges have been provided.

• Leather-wrapped gear shifter (with unlock button on the right) looks very upmarket.

• Pedals are well-positioned and the footwell is spacious. Dead pedal is useful.

• Driver’s seat has sufficient support. It gets height adjustment, but not lumbar adjustment. It’s got some bolstering on the sides, yet is sufficiently wide and even larger drivers should have no problem.

• Leatherette upholstery is of fine quality. Stitching is consistent. Ventilated front seats are a boon in the hot climatic conditions of India.

• Lots of storage spaces and cubby holes in the cabin. Apart from the regular cupholders and door pockets, you get umbrella holders on the front doorpads and a slot below the handbrake - between the two cupholders to store a smartphone or the car’s key fob. Even a sunglass holder is provided.

• Driver armrest is positioned too far behind. At 5’10”, I found it difficult to use. Shorter drivers will find it completely useless. It should have been extendable.

Interior - Rear

• Overall cabin space is decent. Two six-footers will be able to sit one behind the other, but just about. Not super spacious, but not cramped either.

• Rear seat has a comfortable angle for the backrest. However, the seatbase is on the lower side. Taller users will find the under-thigh support inadequate. Besides, the seat is not wide enough for three adults to sit comfortably. More like 2 adults + a kid.

• Head room is more than adequate. The roofliner is higher where the rear passengers' heads will be.

• Prominent floor hump and rear air-con console will restrict space for the middle passenger.

• Powerful air-con chills the interiors in no time.

• Design of the air-con console is a love it / hate it affair.

• Sunroof is a very welcome feature. It is electrically operated with a manual cover and reasonably sized.

• Like the Seltos, the 10.25” touchscreen head-unit looks like an extension of the instrument cluster. It is responsive to use and has an easy-to-understand user interface.

• Sound quality from the 7-speaker Bose sound system is very good, but not exceptional.

• 392-liter boot is the largest among its competitors. It’s big enough for the driving holidays us BHPians love.

• The rear seat does not split. Hence, if you want to carry longer objects in the boot along with a third person, it will be difficult. This kind of sucks and IMHO, splitting seats in hatchbacks & crossovers should be mandatory.

The 1.5L Diesel AT

• 1.5L diesel engine is refined and quick! It works beautifully with the 6-speed torque converter AT. This proper, smooth Diesel AT is a major USP in a sea of jerky Diesel AMTs.

• With controlled turbo lag, low-end torque is fair. Mid-range is where the action lies. The engine comes into its powerband over 2,000 rpm and pulls strongly thereafter.

• Standing still, the diesel revvs till a little over 5,000 rpm. However, the AT will shift up at ~4,250 rpm. So you can never touch the redline which starts at 4,500 rpm.

• The engine gets audible above 3,000 rpm and is loud above 4,000 rpm.

• In the city, the AT makes it very easy to drive. It can crawl at 7 km/h in stop-go traffic without any accelerator input. Small size and light steering make it suitable for punting around in traffic.

• On the highway, it’s a refined and quiet cruiser. 100 km/h is seen at just under 2,000 rpm.

• 113 BHP & 250 Nm are enough to keep most drivers entertained. There is enough power on tap to overtake other vehicles without breaking a sweat. However, I feel the top-end could have been stronger.

• Apart from the regular Normal driving mode, there are two more available – Eco and Sport.

• As expected, Eco dulls performance, but makes for a very smooth drive which is perfect for the city. There is sufficient power available to keep up with city traffic. You won’t need to engage the other modes often. The transmission shifts up early to maximise fuel economy.

• Eco mode works well on the highway too. It’s apt for cruising and works OK even while passing slower vehicles. Only on undivided highways will you need to shift to one of the other modes, when you need to pass vehicles quickly. Or when you are in a mood for some fun.

• Sport mode sharpens everything up. Throttle response is better and the transmission holds on to a gear for a while longer. In the city, this mode can get a bit busy & jerky in stop-go traffic. It’s a joy on the open road though. You can really get a move on if you are an enthusiastic driver.

• Three traction control modes (Snow, Mud & Sand) have been provided as well. We find these useless in FWD crossovers. More of marketing value than utility.

• Shift quality is smooth & seamless (take that, you AMTs!). There is absolutely no jerk felt when gears are changed, particularly when driving with a light - moderate foot. Even with a heavy right leg, the gearshift doesn’t become jerky.

• It responds well to accelerator inputs and doesn’t get confused. A well-tuned gearbox.

• It also has manual mode. Engage this and the car goes into the "Sport" driving mode automatically. Here too, the gearbox will shift up automatically at 4,250 rpm.

• Engine noise is nicely controlled, but there is a hint of wind noise creeping into the cabin above 100 km/h. Road and tyre noise are a little more than I expected.

The 1.0 Turbo-Petrol IMT

• 1.0L turbo-petrol engine puts out 118 BHP & 172 Nm. Standing still, the engine revs till 5,000 rpm.

• Petrol iMT is very refined. The only vibrations you will feel are on the seat. This is due to the 3-cylinder unit that powers the car. At idle, you can barely hear the engine inside the cabin.

• The lack of a clutch makes it very easy to drive around in city traffic. There are no jerks, that would otherwise have been felt while the clutch was released. There’s no “head nod” of an AMT either.

• The car can set off in 1st, 2nd or reverse gears. It won't move off in any other gear. The MID will prompt you to shift down if you try to do so in a higher gear. A series of continuous warning beeps will also be heard. The engine does not stall, no matter what you do. Just like in an MT, we will recommend starting off in 1st in the IMT, for a healthy clutch life (2nd gear starts entail some clutch slipping).

• In the city, the IMT is wonderful to use once you get familiar with it. The left foot is idle and the lesser effort required in driving means you won’t get tired (especially in city traffic).

• The car can set off even without accelerator input in 1st or 2nd gears. The Sonet IMT crawls at 7 km/h and 14 km/h respectively in 1st and 2nd. This crawling is a big boon in bumper-to-bumper traffic as you can effectively drive with just 1 pedal (i.e. the brake).

• Gear shifts are slightly notchy, but the gates are well-defined and the gearbox is sure-slotting.

• The speed of upshifts is normal, but nowhere as fast as a quick-shifting BHPian can manage. In the same breath, we will add that the upshift speed is comparable to what your non-petrolhead spouses, siblings & friends deliver.

• No clutch pedal to press makes your work easier. There is no stalling problem and no jerk felt as the driver does not have to release a clutch. In fact, we will say that the IMT is smoother than some inexperienced or rash MT drivers.

• Conventional automatics and AMTs change gears on their own if the revvs are too high or low. In the IMT, that is not the case. Only the driver can change gears. If the revs drop too low, the clutch will engage to prevent stalling. If the revs are too high, the IMT will maintain max rpm (like in an MT).

• You need not take your foot off the accelerator while changing gears. That said, if you do lift off, the transition (to the next gear) is slightly smoother. We anyway take our foot off the accelerator while shifting gears in an MT, so this will be a good habit to develop.

• Turbo lag, if any, is masked well by the transmission. Power delivery is linear and driveability is very good.

• The MID will warn you (along with continuous beeps) if the revs are too low and ask you to shift down. It will also warn you if you shift up too early (under ~1,000 rpm). This is to prevent any lugging of the engine.

• If you shift up too early, the engine will not complain or knock. But, there is just no power coming through. On one instance, the car pulled from under 1,000 rpm in 3rd gear, but progress was too slow. What if you mischievously shift from 1st to 6th at 10 km/h? No power = the clutch will not engage (for the sake of driveability & clutch life).

• If you need to close gaps in traffic, you will need to shift down and keep the engine in its power band (or close to the power band).

• In case you stop at a signal in anything above 2nd gear, the MID warns you (again, with continuous beeping), requesting you to downshift.

• The car can comfortably cruise at 40 km/h in 3rd gear with the engine spinning at ~1,750 rpm.

• The lack of a clutch pedal will initially confuse the best of us. You put it in one gear and keep going...sometimes forgetting it is not an automatic and that you have to shift gears! The increasing engine sound reminds you to shift up. There is a learning curve; some drivers will adapt to it faster than others.

• On the highway, the IMT is an excellent cruiser. Mid-range performance is strong and most of the time, there is enough power and torque to make good progress. The engine comes into its powerband at 2,000 rpm. You can revv the motor all the way up to ~6,600 rpm.

• The petrol motor sounds good at high rpm. Enthusiasts will enjoy this.

• Because you can’t use higher gears at low rpms (without the system warning you like crazy & the terribly slow progress, if at all), you'll inevitably be in the right gear most of the time. This way, you are always in the power band (or close to it), and there will be no problem of turbo lag.

• The engine revs till ~6,600 rpm after which, the rpm limiter kicks in abruptly. This can sometimes catch you out in the middle of an overtaking maneuver & you will have to quickly upshift. If you don't, the engine will maintain max revs.

• In 6th gear, the car sees 100 km/h @ ~2,250 rpm and 120 km/h @ ~2,750 rpm.

• It is only when you get aggressive with the car that a proper manual and clutch pedal are missed. The actuator disengages in a more relaxed, calmer manner than a manually-operated clutch. This also means that the 0 - 100 acceleration isn't as fast as an MT. If you are a hard-driving enthusiast who likes to zoom on the open road, a pure 3-pedal MT or fast AT are the recommended choices.

• A driver can downshift at any time. The IMT matches the engine revvs on downshifting.

• Surprisingly, even if you put the car in a lower gear at high speed, it will shift down. I was doing ~107 km/h in 4th and put it in 2nd gear. The engine revved till almost 7,000 rpm and there was no power available as the fuel supply had cut off, but it allowed me to downshift. Just like it won't engage 6th gear @ 10 km/h, we hope the IMT won't accept more aggressive downshifts (to prevent damage from over-revving). We didn't want to try anymore for fear of engine damage.

• A healthy amount of engine braking is available and this gives the driver a feel of good control.

Ride & Handling

• The ride is compliant. It is not as cushy as a Duster, but the suspension isn't bone-jarring either. On less than perfect roads, it does get jiggly, but it’s never harsh like the Seltos. At high speeds, the suspension remains compliant. Large bumps do come in sharply though.

• Straight line stability is impressive. The car does not lose composure over bumps or expressway joints at speeds of over 100 km/h. Even undulations on the road are dealt with very well. Only at very high speeds does it start feeling a bit twitchy. This is still not as good as an EcoSport. The oldest sub-4 m SUV in the market still remains the benchmark when it comes to handling and driving dynamics.

• Body roll is well controlled for a taller car and the Sonet changes direction without any unnerving incidents. However, the tyres are not great. They will give up during hard cornering. They are not confidence inspiring. Sonet owners & Kia : please change to a better brand.

• The steering is light at slow and parking speeds and weighs up well at higher speeds. It behaves just as you’d expect it to.

• Brakes are very strong and stop the car from high speeds without any drama. I would have liked it if there was slightly more pedal travel available before the brakes bite though.

• The Sonet's ground clearance is rated at 205 mm. In the short media drive, we didn’t get to test it off the tarmac. However, we can tell you that it has no problem tackling tall speed breakers.

• The Sonet is equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, HAC, VSM, brake assist, front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX child seat anchors and a driving rear view monitor.

• Like the Seltos, the Sonet comes with an air purifier. It further gets some virus and bacteria protection.

• Another party piece is the remote "engine start" feature which can be operated by using the key fob or EVO smartphone app.

Last edited by GTO : 12th September 2020 at 06:23.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:00   #2
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A very good-looking crossover, this is. The Sonet will be available in 8 monotone and 3 dual-tone colours - Intense Red, Aurora Black Pearl, Beige Gold, Glacier White Pearl, Intelligency Blue, Gravity Gray, Steel Silver & Clear White in the single-tone options. Dual-tone = Intense Red & Aurora Black Pearl, Beige Gold & Aurora Black Pearl and Glacier White Pearl & Aurora Black Pearl. Both our test cars were red, but while the diesel was a monotone, the petrol was a dual-tone:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-2.jpg

Aggressive face with Kia's Tiger Nose grille which has a thick chrome border. Bonnet has a large central dome and rises rather prominently on either side. Small, yet muscular:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-3.jpg

Rear is tamer compared to the front, but still smart & clean. There is a thin reflector strip running between the tail-lamps. Cuts, creases & big fake exhaust outlets (in silver) give it character:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-4.jpg

Prominently flared wheel arches, body cladding and roof rails give the Sonet a rugged look. Chrome door handles look very out of place:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-5.jpg

L x W x H = 3,995 mm x 1,790 mm x 1,642 mm. Wheelbase = 2,500 mm. Ground clearance = 205 mm. Build quality is good with more than 66% high strength steel used in the construction of the car. 54 m of structural adhesives have been deployed:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-6.jpg

LED DRLs are bright and prominent even under the bright sun. Interestingly, they come on only when the handbrake is disengaged. Nice attention-to-detail:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-7.jpg

DRLs double up as turn-indicators. Crown jewel LED headlamps and projector foglamps with chrome housings. Lower variants get halogen headlamps:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-8.jpg

GT Line's grille is finished in piano black with red accents, and a GT Line badge. Notice the detailing on the chrome insert's surface:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-10.jpg

Front bumper has many cuts & creases and houses 4 parking sensors. It has a full wind deflector at the bottom. GT Line gets a red highlight on the silver insert around the wide air dam:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-11.jpg

Nice to see some plastic underbody protection provided at the front:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-26.jpg

Keyhole and request sensor have been provided on the driver's door only. At least the request sensor should have been there on the passenger's side:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-12.jpg

Diesel AT gets an "Auto" badge on the RHS body panel...
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-13.jpg

...while the petrol iMT gets an "iMT" badge at the same place:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-14.jpg

Funky 16" wheels shod with 215/60 section rubber fill the wheel arches very well. GT Line gets red highlights and red brake calipers. MRFs are a poor choice of tyre for the Sonet:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-15.jpg

Small mud-flaps located ahead of the front tyres:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-16.jpg

Rear wheels get tiny splash guards:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-17.jpg

C-pillar is very thick and hampers all round visibility. Piano black insert with fins gives a wraparound effect to the rear windshield:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-18.jpg

Roof is ribbed for better structural rigidity. At the front is a very-welcome sunroof, while a sharkfin antenna sits at the rear. Silver + black roof rails have been provided:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-19.jpg

An open sunroof can be a lot of fun in the early mornings & late evenings / nights. Even in India:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-20.jpg

Higher variants get these funky heartbeat LED tail-lamps. Emergency stop signal too, wherein the brake lights and HMSL blink rapidly when the brakes are slammed. We like the font used for the "Sonet" badging - real classy:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-21.jpg

Rear windshield washer is superbly integrated in the HMSL:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-22.jpg

Also superbly integrated is the reversing camera. It doesn't stick out at all, as is the case with most cars. We appreciate this level of attention-to-detail:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-25.jpg

Diesel does not get any badge indicating the engine powering the car. Rear bumper gets just two parking sensors (surprising, as there are 4 at the front) and slim reflectors. It also gets a silver insert and this variant being from the GT Line trim level, has a red strip as well. What look like openings for the exhaust pipes are actually sealed (ΰ la Mercedes). Below is the diffuser with glossy black fins. The exhaust is nicely concealed:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-23.jpg

On the other hand, the turbo-petrol gets a T-GDI badge on the hatch:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-24.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 11th September 2020 at 19:01.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:00   #3
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Just like other crossovers, ingress & egress are easier than in hatchbacks or low sedans. GT Line gets all-black interiors with silver + piano black inserts. We love the floor mats! LED Sound Mood Lamps (ambient lighting) have been provided as well. As expected for this segment, the plastics on the dashboard are all hard. However, their quality is among the best in the segment:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-27.jpg

GT Line gets a 3-spoke, meaty flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching and thumb contours. It looks very premium. Buttons for operating the entertainment and telephone are located on the left spoke, while those for the MID and cruise control are on the right spoke. The toggle switches are finished in silver. Steering has rake adjustment only - we wish such a loaded car also had telescopic adjust:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-28.jpg

Funky instrument cluster has an analogue tachometer on the left + analogue temperature / fuel gauges on the right. A digital speedometer with a 4.2" MID are in the middle. Among the information displayed on the MID is turn-by-turn navigation, tyre pressure monitoring system, average and instant fuel consumption, distance-to-empty counter, a single trip meter & outside temperature:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-29.jpg

MID displays the specific door that is open. It covers the bonnet & tailgate too! So many cars costing thrice as much miss out on a bonnet warning:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-31.jpg

All-black doorpad has hard plastics. Armrest area gets softer, fake leather cladding with red contrast stitching. Door handle is finished in silver. Don't miss the tweeter & speaker with Bose badging. Door pockets can hold a 1L bottle and other knick knacks:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-44.jpg

A nifty umbrella holder has been provided as well:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-45.jpg

Zooming in on the ambient light strips of the door pads:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-66.jpg

Black seats with red contrast stitching of the GT Line, draped in leatherette upholstery. The seats come with a cooling function which is such a boon in hot India! Driver's seat is adjustable for height, but doesn't get lumbar adjustment. Still, it provides sufficient support. It’s got some bolstering on the sides, yet is wide enough for larger drivers. Armrest should have been adjustable. The current unit is useless for shorter drivers. Even at my height (5'10"), I didn’t find it comfortable to use. The armrest is positioned too far behind:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-46.jpg

Seatbelts aren't adjustable for height:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-65.jpg

IRVM houses 3 buttons - SOS will place an emergency call to Kia customer care, the button with the tow truck will call Kia Roadside Assistance and the third button will launch UVO (telematics). Auto-dimming functionality has been provided:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-33.jpg

Center fascia tilts towards the driver (noticeable even in this image). It features a floating touchscreen head-unit with a piano black finish. Funky-looking air vents. More piano black runs around the gear lever; check out the detailing on it:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-32.jpg

10.25-inch HD Touchscreen AVNT head-unit with UVO connected tech. User-friendly interface. 57 features including UVO - Voice Assist. It supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Air quality index is displayed on top:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-34.jpg

The Sonet gets a cabin air purifier with virus protection and a perfume dispenser. The purifier's fan speed can be adjusted from here. The rear display (above the rear a/c vents) can be turned on / off:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-36.jpg

Cabin gets mood lighting. One can get the lights to flicker with the music being played, or just glow steadily according to the colour chosen. You can adjust the brightness levels too:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-37.jpg

Buttons to operate the cooled seats, rear camera, driving modes and traction mode (snow / sand / mud) are located below the air-conditioner console. Do note that the driver as well as front passenger get cooled seats (your spouse will be pleased):
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-38.jpg

Sadly, the petrol iMT doesn't get driving modes or grip control:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-39.jpg

Below the climate control panel is a smartphone charging pad with cooling vent:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-51.jpg

Cabin air purifier and perfume dispenser are under the driver armrest. This is a first-in-segment feature and can be activated through the ICE head-unit. The kind of features coming to the 10-lakh rupee segment, seriously!
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-47.jpg

Rearward visibility is restricted by the t-h-i-c-k C-pillars and small windshield:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-48.jpg

Plain-Jane glovebox is medium-sized. It has no compartments, illumination or a cooling vent:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-68.jpg

The size of the sunroof is just adequate for the cabin:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-49.jpg

Sunglass holder has soft lining to prevent scratches:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-69.jpg

A neat slot to park your smartphone or the key fob between the cupholders:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-50.jpg

Rear seat is more suitable for 2 adults and a child, rather than 3 adults. While the seatbase is largely flat, the seatbacks have some contours to hold you in place. Two adjustable headrests as well as ISOFIX child seat anchors on both sides have been provided. Side occupants get three-point seatbelts, while the middle passenger gets a lap belt. A center armrest with cupholders is given:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-52.jpg

Adequate legroom. Floor hump is wide and slopes down towards the rear. Besides, the center console eats into the 5th occupant's legroom as well. The middle passenger will have to place his feet on either side of the floor hump:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-53.jpg

Rear air-con vents get individual flow direction controllers. A USB port and cubby hole are located below. Small screen (but big fonts) on top displays the AQI inside the car:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-54.jpg

Seatback on the left has 2 pockets! The one on top is shallow and can be used to keep a smartphone / other small items. The lower one is deeper. Driver's seat gets just one seatback pocket at the bottom:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-55.jpg

392-liter boot is the largest among its rivals. It is good enough to accommodate luggage for those weekend family trips. The opening is fairly wide, but the loading lip is high. Boot light is provided on the left, while the 7th speaker (subwoofer) is placed on the right. The boot comes with a useful parcel tray as well:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-56.jpg

Folding the seatback down gives you much more cargo capacity. However, the Sonet doesn't come with an adjustable boot floor and you don't get a flat floor (far from it):
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-71.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 11th September 2020 at 19:02.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:00   #4
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The Sonet diesel is powered by a 1.5L turbocharged engine. It's available in two states of tune - 99 BHP / 240 Nm with a fixed geometry turbocharger, and 113 BHP / 250 Nm with a variable geometry turbocharger. While the former comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, the latter gets a 6-speed torque converter AT. This will be the first-time that a proper AT gearbox is mated to a diesel engine in the sub-4 m SUV segment. The Tata Nexon and Mahindra XUV300 diesels got AMT gearboxes. Heck, other than the Amaze CVT & now the Sonet, there is a serious dearth of good Diesel ATs in the compact car segments. 1.5L, 4-cylinder CRDi diesel fills the engine bay well:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-58.jpg

Stylish gear lever is a mix of black & silver, with nice red stitching. It is identical to the Seltos'. This Diesel AT's smoothness will be a USP (like the Honda Amaze):
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-42.jpg

Spacious footwell with well-positioned pedals, and a useful dead pedal too. GT Line pedals are finished in sporty aluminium with black rubber grips:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-40.jpg

The Sonet is also available with a 1.0L turbocharged petrol that has 118 BHP & 172 Nm on tap. It comes with either a 7-speed DCT or a 6-speed clutchless Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT):
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-57.jpg

iMT's shifter is taken from the Seltos as well:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-43.jpg

Like the diesel AT, the iMT gets aluminium pedals too. However, the brake pedal is shaped differently here - it's from the MT (not the wider pedal from the AT):
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-41.jpg

In the iMT, the MID shows you the gear engaged, along with the recommended gear to shift to:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-60.jpg

A clear warning, accompanied by continuous beeps if the revvs are too low in a higher gear. Or if you try starting off in any gear taller than 2nd:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-61.jpg

Among the features of the UVO connectivity system, is the remote engine start. The car can be started using the smartkey or UVO smartphone app. For this to work, the handbrake has to be engaged, the gradient should be less than 5 degrees and the smartkey should be within 30 m from the car. You can also lock / unlock the Sonet, start the climate control system and set off the horn + lights. You will get a push notification on your smartphone when any of these actions is carried out. UVO comes with a 3-year free subscription. It has smartwatch connectivity & voice commands as well. You can say "Hello Kia" and ask for the driver's window to be opened or closed, navigate, set the air-con, defog the windscreen and get weather updates or the score of a cricket match:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-63.png

Press and hold the 3rd button on the key fob to remotely start / stop the engine:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-64.jpg

Touchscreen doubles up as a display for the reverse parking camera. It gets adaptive guidelines and a parking sensor display. Camera quality can be described as average:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-70.jpg

Driving rear view monitor (aka reversing camera) can be permanently activated. Some drivers (like blackwasp) will appreciate this, while others (like GTO) won't:
Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review-62.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 11th September 2020 at 19:03.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:05   #5
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:17   #6
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Nice crisp review. Coincidentally I checked out Kia Sonet today evening itself.
Didn't clicked any pics as the car has been covered extensively on the forum. Just had 5-10 mins so here are few quick observations-
1. Front looks really good and broad. Rear wasn't to my liking. I have same opinion about Nexon.
2. Boot space didn't looked like 392 litres. To me it looked almost same as Nexon.
3. Interior quality is alright. Didn't feel a WOW factor. Touchscreen is good and easy to operate. Steering had a really good feel in hand. MID looked modern and nice.
4. Now my biggest issue is with Seats. Both front and passanger one felt too stiff and not comfortable enough for long journeys. Back seat had the same story. Under thigh support seemed even less than my Tiago
5. I am 6.1. When driving seat was adjusted to my height preference I couldn't sit at the back. There was literally not enough space to fit my knees comfortably. I know it's a 4 seater and no way 5 decent adults can sit comfortably. But, i expected much better legroom at least. Nexon is way better in legroom and seating 5.
6. Also, engine sound is almost negligible when you stand next to it. Inside it you can't even tell it's a diesel car! Impressive.
7. One other point. Connected my Samsung via bluetooth and it connected in an instant. Played the same song I was listening on Amazon music app. With Bose speakers the sound effect was quite nice. However, if I compare it with the Harmon of Nexon then I dare say Nexon sounds better. Maybe, an extensive listening is needed.

When we reached showroom the staff was in the process of jump starting Sonet display car as it's battery was dead. Left my number with them to inform as and when Test drive starts which according to them will be sometime next week. All in all I wasn't too impressed or too disappointed. All depends on the test drive now.

Last edited by harry10 : 11th September 2020 at 19:36.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:50   #7
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Brilliant review, as usual .

Was on the lookout for a sub-4m for a close relative who's joining a new job and this one's gonna be his first car. Somehow both of us felt that the sonet didn't have the charm as that of the seltos, neither were the SA as keen as they were when the Seltos was launched. The relative described the overall response from the showroom average at best, infact surprisingly the Mahindra & Tata people were the most enthusiastic amongst all the dealers he visited, not to mention their products are also the most satisfying for us in the segment. After weighing in all the options, we thought it wasn't worth waiting for the sonet although we could have waited and went ahead with the XUV300.
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Old 11th September 2020, 19:57   #8
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Wow it's an impressive run by Kia India !

*Excellent design
*Excellent packaging
*Excellent powertrains

Only one thing I found missing in this car , that's the split fold rear seats, which is disappointing in a compact SUV , that's a big miss of UTILITY !

Excellent, detailed review as always .
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Old 11th September 2020, 20:05   #9
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

After reading the first drive review and watching other videos as well, I feel the car is over-hyped, diesel auto is a segment first and I applaud Kia for providing it with lots of features but then it ends there. The car doesn't feel like a game-changer the Seltos did last year! To be honest everything seems good at most and doesn't feel ahead of the competitors be it in space, ride or handling. Felt the WOW factor missing that the Seltos had, this is also because the Sonet has a fierce battle with numerous competitors whereas Seltos was game-changing as the Creta was already 5 years old and something better came into the market (seltos) not available till then. But the Sonet will definitely be the segment-leader no doubt for it's class leading features, styling and mainly the diesel auto.

I was planning to replace my EcoSport with a turbo-petrol DCT but other than features, styling, diesel-auto, boot-space I felt everything else is at par with my 6 year old EcoSport. Also the petrol DCT performance is not the best either, if there was a manual gearbox I would have still thought about it. In terms of handling, steering feel and dynamics the EcoSport can run circles around the Sonet.

Excellent review as always and great attention to detail, hats-off!

Last edited by CEF_Beasts : 11th September 2020 at 20:23.
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Old 11th September 2020, 20:17   #10
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Thanks for such a crisp and to the point review / preview. This car is on radar for a change with Honda City of my sister-in-law. We are eagerly waiting for its price reveal. Our focus is on the diesel automatic.

Kia has done what everyone else should have done earlier. Launch a proper diesel automatic in a CSUV. Ease of driving, ease of parking along with the creature comfort features, they hit it outside the park. It appears to be a perfect Urban Cruiser, albeit the right one.

Last edited by BoneCollector : 11th September 2020 at 20:25.
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Old 11th September 2020, 20:19   #11
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Nice and crisp review as usual, Aditya! Thanks for sharing.

I was watching another first ride review on YT and they had Apollo Alnac on them. So probably it might be about the customers luck which one you end up getting on the one allotted to you.

There was a feedback around the front visibility from the driver seat. The display on the front looked like it might obstruct the view for short drivers. Especially since it is stretching from the center towards the driver. Can you comment on that?

Also, the HT line comes with Off-white interiors making it more visually airy.

Overall, it is certainly a good package if you want a change from ES or Nexon. Also, the Diesel AT is going to do the trick for them. One of the hot favorite for the prospects right now.

Drive Safe,
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Old 11th September 2020, 20:33   #12
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Majority of the buyers will be impressed with what it has to offer -
> Great looks - check
> Nice colors - check
> Feature loaded (stand-out are: sun-roof, sound system, ventilated seats, wireless charging, front parking sensors, led lights) - check
> Automatic - check

It is well spec'd indeed and with right pricing, I think it will do well.
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Old 11th September 2020, 20:44   #13
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

A proper diesel AT is something which has been missing in the segment for a long time. Having said that, it may not come cheaper especially when the same engine with identical state of tune is doing duty in it's elder sibling Seltos.

But boy, look at the list of segment first features - ventilated seats, air purifier, a diesel AT, 10.25" ICE, wireless charging and the list goes on. It has all the makings of another block buster from the Kia stable.

For me, Kia - Hyundai combine may not be the market leader in terms of sales numbers but they're indeed the true leaders when it comes to upping the ante in all the segments they(Kia) are operating now. Meanwhile, the so called market leader is busy churning out 4 speed AT 's, exploring the limits of cross badge engineering and still undecided on whether the market needs a diesel, or may be busy plotting the next delusory ad glorifying petrol engines.

Last edited by Bibendum90949 : 11th September 2020 at 21:01.
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Old 11th September 2020, 21:26   #14
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Attachment 2054387

• 1.5L diesel engine is refined and quick! It works beautifully with the 6-speed torque converter AT. This proper, smooth Diesel AT is a major USP in a sea of jerky Diesel AMTs.
Is the Diesel+AT combination here as good as the Seltos? How do the two compare?
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Old 11th September 2020, 22:26   #15
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Default Re: Kia Sonet : Initial Driving Impressions & Review

I believe Kia has read the pulse of the Indian customer perfectly and knows what it needs to offer to them. They have a huge line-up of vehicles in every class, any customization required will be easy and winning customers simple.

That said, their Soul and Forte are very capable vehicles and give competition sleepless nights.
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