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Old 6th December 2020, 11:09   #1
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Default My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review

The following posts outline some thoughts and opinions of my new* Kia Sonet GTX+ 7DCT (1.0 Turbo), purchased in November 2020.

Summary of major Likes and Dislikes:

Like:
+ Powertrain: Smooth and lots of power for my driving style - even fully loaded. Rides very well on long drives.
+ Ergonomics are good for me and my wife - physical buttons for important stuff.
+ Good visiblity and driving position. Does not feel like you are struggling to manoeuvre in the city. That said, for pure city driving I would pick something smaller/narrower.
+ Feature loaded variant. Coming to India from the US market many other cars/variants feel like penny-pinching.
+ Powerful AC and Cooled seats are amazing for peak summer
+ Overall well put-together package

Dislike:
- Price/Variant options: Top variant is quite expensive, and lower variants miss out on stuff like airbags or cruise control etc.
- No option of split rear seat - even on top variant, and non-functional roof rails.
- There seems to be a lot of doubt about reliability of a tubo+DCT.
(The remaining points are actually minor niggles - not deal-breaker points for me)
- UVO app/server is slow and clunky. Regular people will not have the patience to deal with it. :(
- Infotainment menus are a little hard to get around - takes a while to remember where some settings are.
- No truly keyless use possible like Nexon's fitness-band style key or Ford's famous door-mounted keypad.

More details in the following posts.

Last edited by xks64 : 26th November 2021 at 14:42.
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Old 6th December 2020, 11:12   #2
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1. Prelude:
(Or how we ended up booking the Sonet)

My wife and I are based in the Hubli-Dharwad area with family in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. Once the lock-down began, it became apparent that having a reliable and comfortable car was going to be necessary for highway duties, and the ageing Zen in our stable was just not going to cut it. Some additional requirements were:
  1. Must be ergonomic for me and the Mrs. (who is slightly shorter than average and finds many cars uncomfortable), Automatic highly preferred.
  2. Must have a reasonably good back seat for our elderly family (not too low, good ingress/egress)
  3. Good ground clearance and a little off-roadability: we are outdoorsy types and often go birding
  4. Flexibility of a hatchback body style: Useful for carrying outsize loads, such as bikes, or having our dog ride in the back.
  5. Budget of around 15lacs on road: This was not a tight constraint and we were prepared to move a little.

As such we ended up squarely in the compact SUV area, and were initially looking at the usual suspects. For about two months I obsessed over TeamBHP posts, Youtube reviews and talked to friends and family trying to create a shortlist of models/variants, and creating spreadsheets to track all this info. I also compiled a "master list" of stuff to watch out for on a test drive (link later).

The Shortlist

From the bottom, here's our initial shortlist, and reasons why contenders were rejected outright:
  • XUV300: No automatic option; Ergonomic was bad for me and absolutely terrible for the Mrs. After a 10 minute test drive she vetoed it right out.
  • S-Cross: Was on the shortlist because of good reviews on reliability/highway performance. However, the high price premium for the automatic put us off.In hindsight we should have test-driven it at least, and should have seriously considered buying a manual.
  • Jazz: On paper this was a serious contender, but due to slightly lower ground clearance and lukewarm powertrain it was at the bottom of the list. Also, the higher variant seemed quite over-priced.
  • Nissan Kicks (Magnite & Kiger were not launched at the time) Rejected outright due to some horror stories of service experience in our region.
  • Polo: Was on the shortlist simply because the Hubli area service is simply exceptional, as attested by many close friend, despite horror story reviews of other owners in MH/KA.
  • Ecosport: Very nearly made it to the final shortlist. After the test drive (a colleague's vehicle) we were quite impressed with the overall vehicle and dynamics but found the rear seat a little cramped for our liking.

The cars that made it to our final "serious consideration" short-list were:
  • Nexon
  • Venue
  • Sonet

Quick note here: we started our process in Mid-october 2020, just as things were returning to "normal-ish" and demand had started picking up. Dealers were probably keen to talk to people with definite purchase plans, not to those on the fence. Nevertheless we had an excellent experience with the dealers at Tata (Manickbag Hubli), Kia (Nagashanti Hubli) Mahindra (Sutaria Hubli). Both Hyundai dealers in Hubli would barely talk to us until we were ready to pay the booking amount, and even then would dismissively tell us about 3 month waiting periods, and the online test drive request also went un-answered. Further, this also meant that it was a sellers market - so no discounts or deals were forthcoming.

The Final List:
We did fairly detailed test drives of the Venue (DCT version belonging to a friend - dealer never responded to our request for an iMT), Sonet (DCT and iMT) and Nexon (AMT only). Our findings were pretty much in line with what the Youtube reviews had said. In the end we dropped the Venue because the top DCT version had some funny misses (no rear arm rest, no rear washer/wiper) and felt a little cramped in the back and I didn't want to settle for the iMT. For a few days we went back and forth between the Nexon and Sonet:

+ Nexon (Best safety record, great room in the back and solid build, wider service network)
+ Kia (Beautiful refinement, far better powertrain feel of 1.0L Turbo + DCT, and really no compromise except split rear seat), and most importantly, was much more comfortable for my wife to drive.

And finally decided to spend the additional amount and go for the Sonet.
The purchasing process was a breeze - we took delivery 2 weeks after booking (could have been a little sooner if not for a delay due to some personal work), and absolutely no discounts. The main reason we paid the higher amount for the DCT was that we wanted an automatic and did not want to miss out on the 6 airbags, and moreover we were getting delivery in just a week as opposed to 3+ months for other models.

Last edited by xks64 : 25th November 2021 at 17:47.
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Old 6th December 2020, 14:31   #3
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2. Early Experiences
In the first two weeks we or so have driven the vehicle about 200km on short local trips as we get used to the car. Here are some observations that other reviewers have missed ( in no particular order).

1. The Sonet has 3 drive modes and 3 traction modes. Only one of these 6 can be selected at a time - i.e. if you press the drive mode button it cuts off the traction mode, and so on. The assumption here seems to be that the traction modes (Sand / Mud / Snow) are for off-road use and the Drive Modes are for on-road use.

2. Connected Car Tech: I've always felt this is a bit of a fancy gimmick, but last week there was a situation where being able to unlock the car from my phone was a huge convenience (without it I would have had to walk 10 mins to just to get the key). One should remember, however, that for this to work, your phone *and* your car must have data connectivity. I wish more cars would come with a wearable key / band like the Nexon.

3. Ventilated Seats: Are absolutely AWESOME! Even in the mild heat of of a sunny day it makes a big difference, I'm sure I will feel it even more during peak summer.

4. The sound mood lamps are just a gimmick - as I had expected. Basically very mild RGB LED accent lights in the door and dash area.

5. There is no dedicated SD/USB slot in the car. In the rare case that I do not connect my phone, there is no music other than AM/FM. WIll maybe keep a USB drive with MP3s in the car.

6. [Rant] It's 2020 - why don't we all have wireless Android Auto / phone projection yet?

7. Many reviewers have said that the Sonet rear seat space is a little less. There are no "big/tall" people in my family and we find it plenty roomy - even though it is slightly less wide compared to the Nexon.

8. The Sonet, like many other cars today, has purely cosmetic roof rails. US/EU cars have loadable roof rails that can carry oversize items like canoes or skis (neither of which I foresee needing). Will see how much this impacts anything in the future.

9. The real performance of the engine and DCT becomes evident only in Sport Mode. Performance in Normal and Eco modes is very... relaxed.

10. We had almost no choice of color, and we were not too particular on it, which is why we were able to get it very quickly.

11. It appears that there is no play/pause button on the steering; only mute. Very annoying when listening to podcasts!

Last edited by xks64 : 26th November 2021 at 09:17.
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Old 25th November 2021, 15:39   #4
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3. Photos

1. The front 3/4 view: arguably the best look of the Sonet.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-02.jpg

2. . The front 3/4 view: arguably the best look of the Sonet.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-01.jpg

3. Full Frontal! I've liked the front fascia/grill for most Kia models, this one is no exception.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-03.jpg

4. On a birdwatching trip in Hessaraghatta - making full use of the high ground clearance and "SUV" claims.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-04.jpg

5. His royal highness riding in the back. With the rear seat folded down it makes a nice full flat bed and the window ledge is at a nice eye-level. - I am just missing having split-folding seats :(
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-05.jpg

6. The whole reason I did not get a sedan was to have the ability to carry bikes and other gear. There are two bikes loaded up at the moment. With front wheel off and handlebar turned, the bikes fit vertically. The fact that the rear seat does not fold flat is certainly annoying, but manageable.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-06.jpg

7. The LED lights look great, the auto lights / follow-home lights are particularly useful.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-08.jpg

8. Due to lockdowns and work commitments the car did just over 1000km between Jan '21 to September '21. Living on campus there was no need to commute as well - hence the ridiculously low mileage.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-07a.jpg

9. Finally when things had opened up in end of Sep / Oct we took a small trip into the Western Ghats with family (2 dogs included). Car performed flawlessly - and having the sunroof open while driving through the forests was a nice experience.
My Kia Sonet GTX+ Ownership Review-09c.jpg

Last edited by xks64 : 26th November 2021 at 09:17.
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Old 25th November 2021, 16:15   #5
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4. One - year review

It is now almost one year of ownership, so here is a slightly longer-term review. Instead of repeating a lot of the facts, figures or opinions that others have already written about, I though I'd list the "quirks and features" - with a hat tip to a certain YouTube personality.

The following applies to the first (2020) model year. Since then some variants / features have been added, for example the anniversary edition, but the main offering remains pretty much unchanged.

Note: If you look at the numbers for all sub 4m cars, and sub-4m SUVs, the dimensions are all +/- few cms or mms in each dimension - so each model has a slightly different compromise. Take a ruler and look at the difference if you don't believe me - even 100mm seems like a small difference. What the different designs do within these dimensions makes a difference. Incidentally, the official classification of this car (as per the registration documents) is "Body Style: Station Wagon". I wonder what the official classification is for other cars that are otherwise called SUVs, MPVs, etc.

1. I went for the top model with DCT and 1.0 Turbo engine.
There is lots of power when needed, thrifty and economical the rest of the time. I use ECO/Normal mode 90% of the time and am getting 14kmpl in city doing mostly grocery runs on weekends.

2. It comes with Drive modes that are actually very useful. Difference between Normal and ECO is not much - me being a very sedate driver to begin with. If you put it in Sport mode, the ECU seems to chug a glass of red bull and ask “how fast?” It's a lot of power for my needs - even with a fully loaded car.

3. The quirk here is that each press of the mode switch advances the mode from from Normal (no mode, default) to Sport to Eco. So if you delay the second button press you get a bit of an unexpected surge as the car enters Sport mode. This jump was *very* pronounced and then there was a firmware update for the DCT in early 2021 which seems to have increased the mode delay.

4. This car does not have paddle shifters, the newer Sonet has them. I never drive so aggressively that I need paddle shifters - and only *once* have I needed to force a downshift on a long climb on the highway, which I did with the stick without any issues at all. I test drove the iMT (Sonet) and AMT (Nexon) and it took me just a few minutes to really get used to each. Personally (and this may be a very unpopular opinion) I feel that AMT in Manual mode, iMT, or even TC will perform comparably in “normal” driving situations for me.

5. There are also 3 traction modes - snow, mud and sand. Living in Karnataka I have never needed to use snow; but mud and sand seem to do the same thing - basically dulling the throttle response so that you don’t end up spinning out. I would have expected that these modes are closed-loop - i.e. sensing the wheel speed (at least front) and accelerator position, and then modulating the throttle accordingly. But they seems to just modify the throttle response.

6. The Gauge Cluster is just fantastic. Everything you need quickly is big, front and center: digital speed, revs on the left, fuel and temp on the right. Clean and simple. The MID is good too - during navigation it shows the upcoming turns as well. All the usual stuff like TPMS, fuel economy etc is all there. There is also a provision to show you wiper and light setting when you move the stalk. The (new) Nexon gauge cluster sucks big time in comparison - it is hard to read and too cluttered IMO.
Interestingly there is only one trip counter - no trip1/trip2 like in many other cars, but this is not really a big issue.
One funny thing is that there is no warning light for washer fluid empty. I think all the card I drove in US had it.

7. Ventilated seats are awesome on a hot day. Ive said this before in the early comments and I'll say it again - makes a big difference in comfort.

8. When folding the rear seat, there are two notches/sockets in which one can put the seatbelt buckes so they don't catch on the seatback. The seat is single (not 60:40 split like in most other cars) and does not fold flat. There is about 3 or 4 inch difference between the boot floor and folded seat back. However the seat bottom does not have to be lifted up to fold the back down (like for the Nexon) so some space is available between the front seat and rear seat as well. Not a major issue either way. There is a nice flap at the bottom of the back seat that does help maintain a nice look whether the rear seat is up or down. As I mentioned earlier, I would have really liked the option of a split rear seat to accommodate luggage, passengers and a dog. :(

8. The rear seat latches are a little finicky. When putting the rear bench back up; it takes a few tries to make sure the latches engage properly and the seat back "locks" in the up position.

9. The boot is quite large - marginally larger than all competitors. The user manual says “luggage must be secured to prevent it being thrown about in a collision” but there are no hooks in the boot - and no way to put a cargo net. Eliminating cargo hooks in the back seems an odd place to cut corners. Also the light in the boot is exactly as pathetic as all the other cars I have seen.

10. Front and rear parking sensors and rear camera are absolutely great. Backup camera and sensors should be mandatory in all cars I think. A nice feature is that the rear view camera and parking sensors stay on even after you shift out of reverse until you cross 30kmh. The funny thing is that the seat belt warning chime comes on sooner at 20kmh.

11. Key and locks
It is possible to enable or disable the honk-on-lock/unlock (long press lock and unlock on the key for 5s). I find the honk extremely annoying.
The real surprise was that the salesperson knew this and disabled the sound during delivery of the vehicle.

12. Keyless entry is a huge convenience - works on the driver door as well as boot.
If you walk up to the boot with the key on you and press the boot release - only the boot unlocks; you close the boot and the boot locks again.
Walk up to the door with key in pocket, press the request button - all doors unlock. The only missing thing is a feature I had on my previous car - the option to unlock only driver door or all doors when unlock is pressed. The range of the key is great - works almost 75m away Line of sight.

13. The key fob has remote start too - great for cooling the cabin if needed. I have almost never needed it but in colder climates I imagine this would be very useful. (I used to need remote start a lot in midwestern winters).

14. The Autodimming IRVM is such a relief! Folks in Dharwad seem to drive with full high beams or no lights at all.

15. A lot of settings are configurable- the lane-change turn signal can be set to 3-5-7 blinks; wiper/headlamp setting; autolock/unlock setting, etc. There is a nice automatic fuel economy calculator also, but I rarely use it - I just use an app that tracks mileage between full tanks.

16. Something funny happens if you turn off the car without putting it in park. It keeps chiming an error and the only way around it is to put it in park, start the car and shut it off again.

17. Auto lights and DRLs are very convenient but it became a problem in one specific case - I was going stargazing and needed to move the car a little. The others didnt appreciate the bright lights (temporarily) spoiling their night-vision.

18. The fog lamps don’t come on unless the headlamps are on. I've only had this experience once - when there was quite dense fog - having the headlights on caused reflection from the fog :(

19. The Sonet does not have cornering lights. The Venue does and they are absolutely brilliantly designed.

20. Rear view monitor is extremely useful - and more importantly it takes a single physical button press to activate

21. Rear wash and wipe is extremely useful - I seem to get the rear glass quite dusty and muddy on most outings.

22. AC and Climate Control:
All the vents (in the dash and for the rear seat) can be "turned off" by moving them to the lowermost position, which is handy. The air purifier has an inbuilt fragrance dispenser but Kia doesn't have spare perfume cartridges available to buy - so thats a disappointment.
Also, between the fan speed button and air intake button there is a "blank" space with cutouts/vents on it. I wonder what it is - maybe the cabin temperature sensor.

23. Center console storage is annoyingly small - barely fits a wallet. The center cupholders have a dedicated slot for a phone which is nice though.

24. This model has wireless charging but no wireless android auto. Very few phones support wireless charging (I don't have one) and so is of limited use. My experience with Android Auto is not vey good (and I blame Google, not automakers for this). This deserves a separate rant

25. The colored mood lighting is just a gimmick - doesn't do much for me as the driver. Perhaps as a passenger it would be a cool effect.

26. The roof rails are non funcional! (same for the nexon - there are only a few cars with functional roof rails).

27. The native infotainment system is quite good. There are dedicated buttons for Map, Nav etc which are very useful. (Tactile buttons would have been nicer, but its better than nothing) Also the screen supports split screen mode which is a huge deal - I can use half the screen for Youtube Music and the rest of the screen for navigation at the same time!

28. One complaint is that the steering does not have a dedicated play/pause button. There's a mute button which is absoutely necessary, but play/pause would have been nice. A strange thing is that when playing audio over Android Auto, mute does just mute. But when playing the same app over bluetooth Mute will actually pause. I guess this is because the bluetooth audio standard does not support a mute command. The steering has a configurable button - it would be nice if Kia puts out a firmware update to let it be used as play/pause.

29. The inbuilt system has voice recognition proudly branded Houndify. it is the WORST system I have used - I have not got it to do anything even once. Most of the time it returns "no data received from server" which means the upstream server has issues; but even if recognition is successful it has very few useful commands. For example if "Home" location is saved one might expect "Navigate home" to work; but no such luck. Voice recognition on my '07 Camry worked better! #Fail.
Fortunately the steering voice recognition button works for both UVO (single press) and Google assistant (long press).

30. The inbuilt nav system is great - it has live traffic info when online but works offline too (in forests, ghats, etc)
It fails exactly where one would expect it to fail - the quality of maps. The maps are most likely from MapMyIndia and are often outdated (at least in Hubli Dharwad), don’t have most businesses included; and certainly don’t have things like one-ways mapped correctly. Maybe the maps are better in larger metro cities. Ironically MapMyIndia sources data from Open Street maps which is Open Source and more up to date. The saving grace is real roads are missing from the map - not roads on map missing on the ground.

31. UVO and This “connected car” tech: This stuff is only for serious nerds. Honestly, it is a little tricky to set up and use. Even the salesperson could not have it ready and set up at delivery - and it took me two days talking to the dealer and call center to get it working. The usual features are all there: locate the car, live tracking, remotely lock/unlock the car; remote start, geofencing, trip history etc. There are even alerts - say you walk away without locking the car? Notification on your phone that prompts you to lock. Very useful. Other stuff is not so useful. For example, you can't share a location from Google Maps directly to the car - because Google now has their funky plus codes that UVO does not recognise. (By the way Google Maps will also not show the *full* plus code - it only shows the first 6 characters - so other apps can't get the latlong easily. Again - plus codes and WhatThreeWords deserve a rant of their own, so I'll leave it at that).

You can of course plug in the lat/long values but Google Maps doesn't give you those very easily in your mobile app either. Anyway I mostly use OpenStreet Maps with Android Auto (beta program) so I get all the benefits of OSM & offline nav and have everything on screen as well.

32. Many things could be done in UVO that are missing - eg. remotely roll up windows or warn when some windows are open at the time of locking the car, etc.

Last edited by xks64 : 26th November 2021 at 14:58.
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Old 27th November 2021, 05:37   #6
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th November 2021, 14:56   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xks64 View Post
+ Kia (Beautiful refinement, far better powertrain feel of 1.0L Turbo + DCT, and really no compromise except split rear seat), and most importantly, was much more comfortable for my wife to drive.

Congratulation, Wish you manyhappy miles with your new Kia Sonet.
You can never go wrong with white - good choice of color and transmission (DCT) as well.


I am surprised that they did not offer split seats for top of the line DCT variant !
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Old 28th November 2021, 14:54   #8
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Congratulations! Wish you many happy miles with your car.

Kia Sonet is probably the best-looking car in the sub 20L category.

I do have a couple of questions, though I do not have any first-hand knowledge on the Sonet, the reviews say the ride of the car is firm. Is it the case?

Any additional maintenance on DCT or any glitches so far?
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Old 28th November 2021, 20:52   #9
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Congratulations for your new Kia Sonet Turbo DCT. Wish you lots of happy miles with your car.
Very well detailed ownership review I must say.
Look forward to your ownership experience as in our family my uncle has booked a Kia Sonet DCT Turbo and awaiting delivery of his car.

Last edited by swiftvxi06 : 28th November 2021 at 20:53.
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Old 29th November 2021, 09:08   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mytbhp_turbo View Post
You can never go wrong with white - good choice of color
True! I think it helps keep the car a little cooler in the North Karnataka heat!
Incidentally, most of the cars bought during 2020-21 in my friends/family circle are white. I suspect manufacturers have intentionally cut down on production of other colors to help supply chain issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mytbhp_turbo View Post
I am surprised that they did not offer split seats for top of the line DCT variant !
I was surprised too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mafia View Post
Congratulations! Wish you many happy miles with your car.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mafia View Post
the reviews say the ride of the car is firm. Is it the case?
I think only slightly - some nasty bumps are certainly felt in the cabin, but then again Dharwad roads are a different level of off-road experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mafia View Post
Any additional maintenance on DCT or any glitches so far?
There was a software/firmware update for the DCT in March/April. That improved the low-speed characteristics noticably - made it more well behaved and restrained in ECO/Normal mode.
No additional maintenance so far (Fingers crossed!)

Last edited by khan_sultan : 29th November 2021 at 09:28. Reason: back to back posts
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Old 29th November 2021, 16:35   #11
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Thank you so much for the compare. Puts a lot of my own demons to rest regarding Venue Vs Sonet..... Sonet it is for me!!
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Old 9th December 2021, 13:12   #12
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Thanks for the comprehensive one-year review. Seems like a superb package and I can understand why it's such a success.
Was the 3rd photo taken at McDonald's Kolhapur on Dec 18th 2020? I recall seeing a new white Sonet with Karnataka registration parked there on that day, and the owner looking fondly at the beauty?
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Old 13th December 2021, 12:20   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Altitude View Post
Was the 3rd photo taken at McDonald's Kolhapur on Dec 18th 2020?
Yes! The photo was taken at Kolhapur Mc.D; but certainly not on Dec 18th - and I did not get my numberplates till Jan 2021 I think. So must be a different person fawning over their car
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Old 26th December 2021, 15:11   #14
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Just a question, if the sunroof is open, does the car give any indication or beeps when locking the car.
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Old 4th January 2022, 07:39   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArijitGupte View Post
Just a question, if the sunroof is open, does the car give any indication or beeps when locking the car.
Yes, there is a chime; and the MID shows an image of the car with the sunroof highlighted in red.
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