Ownership review of my Kia Sonet GTX+

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

BHPian xks64 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

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:


  • 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.


  • 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.


(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:

  • Must be ergonomic for me and the Mrs. (who is slightly shorter than average and finds many cars uncomfortable), Automatic highly preferred.
  • Must have a reasonably good back seat for our elderly family (not too low, good ingress/egress).
  • Good ground clearance and a little off-roadability: we are outdoorsy types and often go birding.
  • Flexibility of a hatchback body style: Useful for carrying outsize loads, such as bikes, or having our dog ride in the back.
  • 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

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):

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • [Rant] It's 2020 - why don't we all have wireless Android Auto / phone projection yet?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The real performance of the engine and DCT becomes evident only in Sport Mode. Performance in Normal and Eco modes is very relaxed.
  • 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.
  • It appears that there is no play/pause button on the steering; only mute. Very annoying when listening to podcasts.


The front 3/4 view: arguably the best look of the Sonet:

Here is the rear 3/4 view of the Sonet:

Full Frontal. I've liked the front fascia/grill for most Kia models, this one is no exception:

On a birdwatching trip in Hessaraghatta - making full use of the high ground clearance and "SUV" claims:

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:

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:

The LED lights look great, the auto lights / follow-home lights are particularly useful:

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:

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:

Continue reading xks64's review of his Kia Sonet GTX+ for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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