Over the past year, one of the biggest success stories to come out of the Indian automotive industry has been the rise of Kia Motors. How did the Korean company do it? By making not just a great product but also going the whole hog with the marketing and pricing the cars right. As you might have read in these pages earlier, the Seltos has been a runaway success and is still sitting pretty at the top of the sales charts of similar vehicles.
The next chapter in Kia’s India story is the brand’s new compact SUV, the Sonet, which will launch during the coming festive season. The new car is entering a segment that is already bursting at the seams with capable contenders like Hyundai Venue, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport and Mahindra XUV300. It is not an easy segment to make a mark.
At first-look though the Sonet seems to have what it takes to make an impact. Kia has made very small changes to the concept car that we saw at the Auto Expo early this year and kept the basic look in-tact. At first glance it looks well proportioned with a hint of muscularity. The aggressive Kia `Tiger Nose’ grille in the front is flanked by a pair of sharp LED headlamps. The meaty wheel-arches also house a set if decent sized alloys (16 inch), and roof-rails with skid-plates. At the rear, the sleek tail-lamps are linked to each other by a distinctive light bar. The wraparound effect of the C-pillar enhances the stance of the Sonet also.
The first thing that you notice on the inside is the massive 10.25-inch touchscreen which is probably the biggest in its class. It dominates the interior architecture. Then you have the same Seltos-like steering wheel with knurled effect switchgear with digital dials and a large screen display. The centre-console features vertical air vents and a row of neatly stacked switches. An array of physical buttons makes sure you are not left at the mercy of just the touchscreen.
The touchscreen, the graphics and the overall functionality are all top-drawer- up there with the standards of the Seltos. And like its predecessor, the features list is exhaustive too. The Sonet comes packed with almost everything that stood out in the Seltos and some more. Besides the earlier mentioned 10.25 inch touchscreen, there are the digital dials, ventilated, and cooled seats, sunroof, air purifier with virus protection, UVO connected tech, 7-speaker Bose audio system with mood lighting, drive traction modes, wireless chargers for mobile phones, front and rear parking sensors, and a lot more.
The seats are comfortable with decent head and shoulder room, and it has commodious door-pockets. The Sonet though, in our opinion, cannot be classified as 5-seater. The rear seats are a bit of squeeze for three people, with the legroom available being only adequate for two.
Just like the Seltos, the Sonet will come in several variations of the gearbox and engine configurations. The more popular option, we suspect, would be the 1.0 turbo petrol engine with a DCT automatic gearbox. You can also buy a cheaper model with an iMT gearbox. The iMT is a manual but without a clutch, where you do change the gears manually but without actually pressing the clutch. There will also be a 1.2 petrol and a 1.5 diesel. Unlike its competition, Kia will also equip the 1.5 diesel Sonet with an automatic as well. There will be a Sonet for every type of buyer.
The Sonet is expected to be launched around the festive season in a price range of around Rs 7-12 lakh. While we are yet to drive it, the Sonet has impressed us based on its overall packaging. It seems to tick every box as a compact SUV.