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Kia Sonet Compact SUV First Drive Review: Trouble Brewing for Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue

Kia Sonet. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

Kia Sonet. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

While we have already discussed about the design and cabin of the Kia Sonet in our first look review, we recently got a chance to drive the upcoming compact SUV and here's our First Drive Review.

A few weeks back we brought you our first look review of the hotly anticipated and newest compact SUV in the country - the Kia Sonet and now as promised, we are back again, this time to talk about how good is this urban small SUV to drive. Before we start discussing the Sonet, here’s some quick points to help you understand the car better. It’s the third car from Kia after Seltos and Carnival. The name Sonet is short for ‘Social Networking, and the car competes in highly competitive compact SUV segment. Here’s our First Drive Review of the Kia Sonet:

Performance

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Before discussing our drive experience, let me give you a brief idea on the specifications. The Kia Sonet gets multitude of engine and gearbox options starting with the 1.2-litre petrol engine producing 83 PS of power and 115 Nm of torque and gets only a 5-speed manual gearbox. Next is the detuned version of 1.5-litre diesel engine producing 100 PS and 240 Nm of torque and is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

While these two are regular set of engines, the real fun lies in the two engines we drove for our drive experience. There’s the 1.5-litre diesel engine borrowed from Seltos as it is and produces 115 PS and 250 Nm output. The engine is mated to an automatic gearbox. And then there’s the top of the line 1.0-litre turbo GDI engine with 120 PS power output and 172 Nm torque. This gearbox is the sole gearbox to get two gearbox options, a 7-speed DCT gearbox and the much talked about and newly introduced 6-speed iMT gearbox.

Kia Sonet 1.5-litre diesel engine with AT gearbox. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

We spent most of our time with the 1.5-litre diesel engine with auto gearbox and came our pretty impressed with the overall driving dynamics. The first thing you notice as soon as you start driving the car is the kind of ride quality it has to offer. Kia says they have worked hard to tune the suspension as per Indian roads and one can easily notice the efforts. The Sonet has a supreme ride quality, a bit on the softer side and can eat most of the crevices and potholes for breakfast.

Then is the handling. The Kia sonnet steering is chunky, feels good to operate and gives you ample feedback. Again, it’s tuned for both city as well as highway driving. As for the engine performance, since we drove the 115 PS variant, there’ was enough power on the tap for occasional speed runs. The torque at 250 Nm is also massive for overtaking traffic with ease. The diesel cluttered is negligible and the NVH levels are under control.

Kia Sonet instrument panel. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

The gearbox complements the engine well and you feel in the control of the vehicle all the time. Kia is also offering various drive and traction modes to fiddle around in Sonet. There’s Mud, Sand and Snow modes, though we couldn’t test any. Then there’s Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes to alter throttle input. As for the fuel efficiency, Kia claims that the diesel MT mileage is 24.1 kmpl and AT mileage is 19 kmpl. Both the petrol engines have 18+ mileage. Overall, Kia Sonet reminds us of the Seltos, and the time we were blown away by the Kia’s ergonomics and driving dynamics.

Kia Sonet alloys. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

Design

Since we have already covered the length and breadth of the Kia Sonet’s design in our previous firs look review, we I wouldn’t go deep into it and you can check our First Look Review by clicking on the link here. However, here’s just a brief lowdown on what you can expect from the new Sonet’s exterior.

The Kia Sonet is a sub 4-metre compact SUV, yet has a road presence not less than cars from a segment above. There’s enough stand out elements like signature Tiger Nose Grille flanked by distinctive Crown Jewel LED headlamps and ‘Heartbeat’ LED DRLs, connected taillight unit with ‘Heartbeat’ LED tail lamps, dual muffler design and a large skid plates. Kia is offering the Sonet in two trim lines - Tech Line and GT Line - with GT-Line adding extra dash of sportiness thanks to black high glossy elements with red accents that are carried forward inside the cabin.

Kia Sonet front profile. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

Cabin

The cabin, in itself, is a masterpiece and gets more than 30 segment-first features including Smart Pure Air Purifier with Virus Protection, Front Ventilated Seats, LED Sound Mood Lamps, Wireless charger with Cooling Function, and 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system that dominates the dashboard. The system is well complemented by BOSE Premium 7-speaker surround sound system. However, I missed the old fashioned rotary knobs for volume control. Kia Sonet also gets brand’s UVO connectivity system with 57 commands including Remote Engine Start for both Automatic and Manual Transmission.

Kia Sonet cabin. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

Being a compact SUV doesn’t mean Sonet compromises on practicality and there’s ample space throughout the cabin. The rear leg room is almost segment leading, if not less. There’s no floor hump in the rear for the middle passenger, however I didn’t like floor mat design, but that’s just a personal taste. The boot is also nice and spacious nearly touching 400-litre of space. In terms of safety features, Kia Sonet gets Six Airbags, ABS with EBD, Hill assist, TPMS and more.

Kia Sonet rear profile. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)

Verdict

How do you win a segment that’s already loaded with some of the industry best products? By offering world-class features, lots of space, attractive looks and a wide array of powertrain options and Kia Sonet ticks all these boxes. Also, the very fact that the Kia brand is not an alien to the Indian buyers anymore makes Sonet a hot product to buy. So if you are in the market looking for a compact SUV, Kia Sonet should be on the top of your priority list and like Seltos, we hope Kia will be able to entice the buyers by pricing the Sonet competitively.