NEW DELHI: After a runaway success of Seltos, the upcoming Kia Sonet surely has large expectations to meet. Kia Motors India has clocked one-lakh unit sales in less than a year of debut.
The Korean carmakers on Thursday gave us a sneak-peak into what the interiors and exteriors of the soon-to-be-launched compact SUV Sonet will look and feel like. Kia Sonet will be the second SUV from the company in India and third product overall, after the Seltos and Carnival MPV. The much-hyped Hyundai Venue-rival has been on the lips of automobile enthusiasts and customers for a while now. Here’ all we know so far about the upcoming sub-compact SUV:
How does the car feel?
Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design has defined the Sonet as “a compact SUV with a strong and muscular character.” Kia Sonet will feature tiger-nose grille with 3D ‘stepwell’ geometric grille mesh pattern. The tiger-nose grille has become a signature of Kia cars. It was also seen on the Seltos. In addition, the Sonet will sport a sleek, and full-LED headlamp unit.
The overall design and styling of the production-ready model looks in line with the concept model showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo. Kia says that the car is aimed at young-at-heart, tech-savvy buyers looking for a sophisticated modern and feature-full vehicle.
Bold sculpted lines with beefy wheel arch cladding, two-tone black roof, roof rails, along with a sloping C-pillar and a small quarter glass add a distinctive look to the SUV.
At the rear of the Sonet, we can find a curved windshield, LED tail lamps connected with an LED strip to make the entire taillight cluster look like one. Overall the car looks like a muscular and could attract young buyers.
How’s it from inside?
Designed to maximize driver and passenger comfort, as Kia says, one thing is sure. The Sonet’s interior is modern, dynamic and features packed to the gills.
Trimmed in high-quality materials, its dashboard will provide owners with the car’s full range of user-friendly features, including a two-layer tray to store mobile devices and other items while driving.
Taking center stage is its high-tech digital display and instrument cluster, featuring a first-in-segment 10.25-inch HD touchscreen and navigation system with UVO Connected technologies.
The Sonet will also offer drivers steering wheel-mounted controls, and the ability to select the different drive and traction modes. Air vents in the dashboard feature a metallic, diamond-knurled pattern, a chic and stylish design highlight.
Made in India for India
The Sonet is Kia’s latest ‘Made-in-India’ product and will be available in many of the brand’s global markets.
The Sonet will feature an extensive list of active and passive safety equipment. It will come equipped with up to six airbags – offering a combination of front, side, and curtain protection for occupants.
We would have to wait a little more to know what all driver-assist technologies Kia will introduce in the Sonet but, what we do know is that it will sport intelligent manual transmission (iMT) that was recently seen in the Venue.
iMT and Hyundai Venue angle
Hyundai Motor India played its trump card to stay ahead in the game. Hyundai will be challenging the Kia Sonet with the compact SUV Venue, particularly the latest Sport trim.
iMT technology is essentially a revolutionary 2-pedal system that eliminates the need for drivers to constantly use the clutch pedal as in a conventional manual transmission. However, with this technology the driver retains the ability to slot gears manually, thereby delivering enhanced control and retaining the joy of driving.
02:15Hyundai Venue iMT: No clutch but manual?
The Hyundai Venue Sport trim has been the only iMT (Intelligent Manual Transmission) car in India until the Kia Sonet hits the roads on August 7.
The two compact SUVs with the new iMT technology will be taking each other head on in the Indian market.
Hyundai Venue uses 1.0-litre turbo-petrol, 1.2-litre petrol, and 1.5-litre diesel. It’s a no-brainer what Hyundai’s sister company Kia Motors will offer Sonet.
Kia Sonet will most likely offer the iMT gearbox with the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and an optional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. On the other hand, the Hyundai Venue offers the iMT transmission mated to the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine of its entry-level SX variant.
The latest Sport trim also offers the iMT transmission mated with the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine in the entry-level SX variant. The second option is the 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox.
This trend was observed between the two Korean auto giants last year too.
When Kia introduced the Kia Seltos in 2019 with three engine options- 1.4-litre turbo-petrol, 1.5-litre petrol, and 1.5-litre diesel, Hyundai ended up rolling out the 2020 Creta with identical same options (though turbo-petrol has only DCT).
The Kia Sonet and Hyundai Venue are taking forward this battle, except, Hyundai holds an edge this time. Hyundai Venue has been well-accepted, clocking over one lakh sales in less than a year.
Rivals, Price, Segment
Kia Sonet is expected to land in an already over-populated segment. As of today, there are at least eight current and upcoming cars in the segment.
Since it is a sub-4m SUV, it will fight it out with the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300, Ford EcoSport as well as the upcoming Renault Kiger (HBC), Toyota Urban Cruiser and Nissan Magnite.
The last deciding factor could be the cost. It is expected that the Sonet will cost Rs 7.5 lakh – 12.5 lakh (ex-showroom).
Meanwhile just looking over the shoulder, Hyundai Venue costs Rs 6.7 lakh to Rs 11.4 lakh (ex-showroom), while Tata Nexon costs between Rs 6.95 lakh and Rs 12.7 lakh (ex-showroom) and Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza costs Rs 7.34 lakh to Rs 11.4 lakh (ex-showroom)
It has been a good time in India’s compact SUV segment, we could just hope and wait to see a fierce battle between the players in the segment.