KIA HAVE DONE THE UNIMAGINABLE. THE KOREAN BRAND HAS MANAGED to capture over four per cent market share, having sold one lakh units of the Seltos in less than a year of its launch. To better understand this achievement, do bear in mind that India is not an easy market to please and every global car manufacturer worth their salt has been vying for such a resounding success. Although the Carnival has received a lukewarm response, the Seltos became a major hit, over 10,000 units being sold in August this year, and now Kia Motors India bring the Sonet, their second SUV/crossover to India, which is expected to have an even greater mass appeal.
We got a chance to spend some quality time with the Sonet before its official launch and it was a day well spent. The all-new Kia is being offered with two petrol and one diesel engine options and five transmission options to choose from. However, what surprised us was that the car-maker gave us only their automatic and iMT versions to try out, hinting at what the young, urban Indians are tilting towards. We started with the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol equipped with the trending six-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission) that promises to deliver hassle-free driving. But does it?
It definitely looks the part. Sample this: the Indian step-wells, the famed tiger’s nose, and even baby elephants — the end result is a very taut and muscular design that looks like nothing else in the compact SUV segment. The front of our top-end variant comes with an interesting looking skid-plate, with twirled-up silver accents making it stand apart from lower trims, which make do with simpler brush metal highlights. It also gets an intricate-looking grille with red inserts and the snooty GT Line badge. And, yes, a family face with the familiar tiger nose grille which, on the Sonet, gets chrome highlights. Other distinctive features include crown-jewel LED headlamps and stylish daytime running lights (DRL) that come with a promise to make your heart skip a beat. If you’re looking for the indicators, well, they come integrated into the LED DRL. Even from the side, the Sonet has a distinct profile with bold wheel-arches and thick C-pillars. There is a glossy black plastic accent on these pillars which gives an impression of an extended rear windscreen, not one of my favourite design elements. The crystal-cut 16-inch alloy wheels look smart, though. The LED tail-lamps have a similar heartbeat-lighting profile and you will also like the small, roof-mounted spoiler which also has brake lights for additional visibility. The rear bumper gets some glossy black highlights painting the sporty theme. What I appreciate the most about the rear design is that it has just a few badges which have been tastefully executed.
Get in and you will instantly notice the well-put-together cabin with a youthful layout and a splash of colours. Some might even recognise bits borrowed from the Seltos, such as the door-handle and even the 10.25-inch touchscreen, the latter being the best in the segment. The cabin of the GT Line screams ‘Premium’ with ample use of piano black accents in combination with good-quality textured and soft plastic. The narrow a-c vents with glossy black surrounds look cool and come with a small display for temperature readouts. Below it are about a dozen buttons to manage the climate control and drive modes which feel well-built and nice to use, but don’t look very pleasing to my eyes. The centre console gets a couple of cup-holders and there’s even a small storage space under the centre arm-rest.
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