The new Kia Sonet is a seductive blend of design, utility and luxury; it takes premiumness on to a different plane—the quality of plastics used inside the cabin, for example, matches what you get in cars twice its price of Rs 6.71 lakh to Rs 12 lakh (ex-showroom). But that isn’t the biggest strength of the Sonet — its strength lies in Kia’s smart marketing. In terms of the number of variants being offered to the customer, except the Hyundai Venue, no other car model comes close to the Sonet. Consider this: Fifteen variants, two trim lines (Tech-Line and GT-Line), 11 colours, two petrol engines, two diesel engines, and five gearbox choices. What it effectively does is that the customer, once she’s zeroed in on a particular variant, usually refrains from extensively checking out other car models. Coming to the product, there isn’t much to complain about the Sonet. The top-end variants are equipped with air purifier, Bose seven-speaker sound system, ventilated seats, mood lighting, connectivity features, smart key, over-the-air map updates, multi-drive modes (like in authentic SUVs), wireless smartphone charger, touchscreen… the list is long. Mind you, it’s an entry-level SUV.
And yet some features aren’t there (available in some of its competitor cars); even top-end variants don’t have cooled glovebox and automatic wipers. We drove the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol variants (both iMT and DCT). The intelligent manual transmission (iMT)is a kind of manual gearbox but without the clutch, though the driving experience it offers is like an automatic gearbox. TheDCTis seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox—it shifts gears so fast you don’t get to know when the gears are being shifted. The engine is a gem—very powerful for its small size, and with a claimed fuel efficiency of 18.3 km per litre. Other engines in terms of fuel efficiency are: 1.5-litre diesel VGT (19 kpl), 1.5-litre diesel WGT (24.1 kpl), and 1.2-litre petrol (18.4kpl).
Like the Seltos, the drive ability of the Sonet is also commendable. The steering feedback—mechanical signals that the front tyres send to the steering wheel — is so accurate that you feel every bump and dip in the road through the steering wheel. This leads to safer driving. Space inside is decent, and especially the front row is quite roomy. The rear seat is not spacious enough for three adult passengers but the boot space is good.
While the ex-showroom price of the Sonet starts atRs 6.71lakh, some features described above are available only in the variants priced above Rs 10 lakh. At the same time, even the entry-level variant isn’t bare bones—it has front power windows, front and rear USB charging ports, electrically adjustable outside mirrors, and rear AC vents, though it doesn’thave an audio system. A good way to make the right variant choice is using ‘Compare
Trims’ function on the Kia India website. On the whole, the Sonet is probably the vehicle the Indian market—battered first by the slowdown and now by Covid19—needs right now. It’s got the aura to pull customers to the showroom, and then a lot of variety to make them stay.
(The name, instead of a play on the ‘sonnet’, a kind of poem, appears to have been inspired by the Synchronous Optical Network, or SONET. It’s a standard for synchronous data transmission on optical fibres, denoting the Sonet’s connectivity and networking abilities.)
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