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Kia Sonet features & observations: We got a very close look

Kia has taken the wraps off the Sonet – a sub-4 m crossover. This is the company’s third car in India after the Seltos and Carnival.

It is clear that Kia has done its homework and is targeting segments that are likely to bring in high profits or have the potential for high sales numbers. The company knows that SUVs and crossovers are the “in thing” in the Indian market and has acted accordingly. The Sonet is scheduled to be launched during the upcoming festive season and will compete in a highly competitive segment against some of the highest selling cars in the country such as the Maruti Vitara Brezza and Hyundai Venue. In order to compete successfully with these established players, Kia will have to price the car competitively and equip it well.

While we had a chance to see the Sonet Concept at the Delhi Auto Expo in February, Team-BHP was given a close look at the production version of the car earlier this week. Here are our observations.

Exterior Styling & Build Quality

The Sonet will be made in India at Kia’s manufacturing facility in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. This should help the company keep the car’s price competitive. The car shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai Venue and has a body structure which constitutes more than 66% high strength and advance high strength steel. It has good build quality and an impressive paint job. With its aggressive and muscular styling, the Sonet is also arguably the best looking sub-4 m crossover in the country. At the front, it has a “tiger nose” grille and at the rear, it has a reflector strip that runs across the tailgate, connecting the two tail lamp clusters. Some of the car’s features include automatic LED headlamps with DRLs, projector foglamps, LED tail lamps, sunroof and 16-inch alloy wheels. It has roof rails, a skid plate at the front, a diffuser at the rear and black cladding on the sides and around the wheel arches which give it a rugged appearance.

Features

On the inside, the Sonet comes with a flat-bottom steering wheel, leatherette upholstery, a floating 10.25-inch HD touchscreen head-unit that looks like an extension of the instrument cluster, a 7-speaker Bose sound system, LED Sound Mood Lamps (ambient lighting) and a sunroof. Kia has put in features such as keyless entry & go, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming IRVM, a 4.2-inch MID that displays turn-by-turn navigation and a tyre pressure monitoring system, an air purifier with virus protection and perfume dispenser, rear air-con vents and a smartphone wireless charger with cooling function. Additionally, Kia has provided UVO telematics with 57 features including voice assist and Over-The-Air (OTA) map updates. Some of these are first-in-segment features. However, there are a couple of features that Kia seems to have left out. These include a split folding rear seat and an adjustable boot floor.

Engines & Transmissions

The Sonet will become the first sub-4 m crossover in India to offer a diesel engine with a proper automatic gearbox. It will get a 1.5L turbocharged diesel engine paired to a 6-speed torque converter. Other engines on offer include a 1.0L turbocharged petrol and a 1.2L naturally-aspirated petrol, while the list of transmissions on offer include a 6-speed clutchless iMT, a 7-speed DCT and 5 & 6-speed manuals. The Sonet is equipped with a remote engine start for automatic and manual transmission through UVO & smart key and multi-drive traction modes & grip control in automatic versions.

Safety Features

Coming to safety, the Sonet is equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, HAC, VSM, brake assist, front and rear parking sensors and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

So far, Kia has had it relatively easy in India. When the Seltos was launched, it had only an ageing Creta to fight. The Carnival - its second launch had no competitors considering the luxury it offered at its price. With the Sonet though, things are different. It has many competitors that have very few weaknesses. The company must get things right from the word go.

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