Kia Sonet – In-Depth Review & First Drive

    Kia Sonet Overview

    When Kia came to India with its first product, the Kia Seltos, it was specifically engineered for India. And it hit the ball out of the park. It took Kia into the top view of the automotive sales charts. On the back of that one product alone, it was a runaway success. Well, they launched the Kia Carnival soon after. But now, once again, they have a product specifically engineered for India, the Kia Sonet. 

    Their compact SUV has a tough act to follow. There are lots of expectations. In fact, when I first drove the Seltos, I was so wowed by it, will this wow me as much. 

    Kia Sonet Exterior 

    The Sonet exterior and interior were revealed recently. And we have a detailed article on that. So if you want to see more details, you can read that but in a nutshell. this car grabs eyeballs off the bat with detailing like:-

    • The grill,
    • And the surrounding nerd chrome, 
    • The wrap-around c-pillar, 
    • The 16-inch alloys, 
    • And the heartbeat lamps front and rear set, 

    It apart and make it super stylish. Read more

    Kia Sonet Interior

    So, the interior of the sonet feels really top-notch. all the quality feels good on the inside whether we talk about materials or the way that the switchgear all it works. The soft finish for the top of the dash lower part has a few hard plastics, of course, to keep costs in check. Large AC vents laid out across the dash, not sure I’m a fan of this knurled finish on the glossy plastic. I prefer the chrome that one has in the Kia Seltos.

    Then there is this large 10.25-inch touchscreen that takes the center space in this car. You have the digital dials flanked on either side by the fuel, the temperature, and the analog rev counter. Thank god it’s a needle. I am not a fan of the digital ones. Nice chunky flat-bottom steering wheel with all the controls. Lots and lots of storage spaces for practicality. You have cup holders. You have a slot as well for your phone. There’s another one, anti-slip, where I had my phone in the first place. Pockets have one-liter bottle spaces. They have umbrella holders as well. 

    So they pretty much thought of everything on this inside. Nice large comfortable seats, the GT line has red stitching. And of course, the GT line emblazoned on the seat that looks nice as well. loads of features 

    • You have wireless charging
    • The sunroof that’s electronically operated, 
    • And ventilated seats

    It is loaded. It is a long list so let’s take a look at all the features I’ve mentioned and what else you get with the Kia sonet.


    • Remote engine start
    • Voice assistant
    • 7 speaker Bose sound system
    • LED Sound mood lights
    • Auto climate control
    • Air purifier
    • Rear AC vents
    • Selectable traction modes [AT/DCT only]
    • Cruise control
    • Castrol MAGNATEC SUV
    • Auto LED headlamps
    • Keyless entry and go
    • Leatherette seats
    • Ventilated front seats
    • Auto-dimming mirror
    • Sunroof
    • 10.25-Inch touchscreen
    • Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
    • Connected car tech
    • Wireless phone charger


    • 6 airbags
    • ABS
    • ESC
    • Parking sensors (F/R]
    • Rearview camera Tyre pressure monitor

    A small note here the base version will get 15-inch wheels, not the 16-inch wheels that we have in our car. While it may be a compact SUV, the sonet can pack in quite a bit of luggage. With it is a class-leading amount of boot space at 392 liters.

    Kia Sonet Engine & Transmission Option

    So, the sonet comes with a couple of engine and gearbox options. Let me run through the list with you. It comes with 1.2-liter petrol that has a manual transmission. Then you get the 1-liter turbo that comes with the new tech, the iMT, and a DCT-auto. And of course, there’s the 1.5 diesel that not only has a manual but a segment-first Torque converter auto as well. Which ones do we have here today? Well, we have the 1-liter turbo DCT, and we have the 1.5-liter diesel auto as well. We are going to start with these two, and then we’re going to test a few of the rest.

    Well, I kicked off my drive with a one-liter turbo DCT. Now first things first when you start in the sonet. Uh, one has to remember that this screen does stick out on top of the dash. So for someone like me who’s probably about five-ten, you have to get your seat height up quite high. But uh, there’s a large range of adjustments, so it works pretty well, and I still have a good commanding view on the road.

    The sonet also feels solidly built, and all its parts work away silently. Whether we talk of the engine or the suspension. Now what’s nice about the sonet is the way that it cocoons you on the inside. It just shuts out outside sounds like a bigger car would.

    So, it feels very refined on the inside. You know so when we spoke about its features, and we spoke about the voice assist working well. It truly does, I mean, it does some pretty cool things, let me show you:-

    hello Kia: I’m feeling cold – increasing temperature by 2 celsius

    That’s quite cool, isn’t it, just a little warmer in the car, and now I’m comfortable.

    hello Kia: roll the driver-side window down – opening the driver’s window

    See that it’s as simple as that. Coming up to a toll, you don’t have to bother, just tell Kia to do it. So you never have to take your eyes off the road for all the basic functions, it is pretty cool.

    Kia Sonet 1.0 Turbo-DCT 

    Okay, so let’s talk about performance. Now the three-cylinder one-liter turbo engine is the same one we’ve seen in the Hyundai Venue. And it makes the identical 120 hp and 172 nm of torque. Now, this one-liter engine is its strong point. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a one-liter at all. 

    • It is strong,
    • smooth,
    • free-revving,
    • and it’s got enough pep whenever you want.

    Now, as I said, it is mated to a 7-speed DCT ( dual-clutch transmission ). This makes the gearbox a very busy one in drive mode. It runs up the gears quickly to ensure efficiency. And so very often when you want a bigger burst of power to tuck into a traffic gap. It has to come down several gears. I think this gearbox reacts better to lighter foot. You know gentler inputs on the throttle. 

    But, if you do stomp your foot down, it will wait on you for a bit before shifting down and getting a move on. The other thing is you will find yourself surging ahead at times. And when you push for a traffic gap or get going after a speed breaker. This is because the gearbox is a bit snappy, and there is spikiness in the power delivery at lower RPMs. What you can do is use the manual mode, which makes a marked difference to the performance.

    It feels better shifts are smoother, and the spikiness is also flattened out. The sonet gets up to triple-digit speeds reasonably easily. The 0-100 comes up in about 12.25 seconds. And I’m saying about and not exacting the figure as we didn’t test it in our normal test zone. But, it does give us a reference point. Now when you do get up to triple-digit Speeds, the sonet feels stable and planted.

    Now, the steering is light, but it is quick enough to react. Uh, and even around corners or at higher speeds, it gives you enough confidence. The advantage of the fact of it being on the lighter side. It is when you do need to make that u-turn it is easy enough to twirl this car around not much effort at all. 

    So the Sonet has various drive modes, Eco, for those who want the most efficiency. And then, of course, you can toggle between Normal and Sport. The one that I like best it does get your throttle responses to be a little more immediate. But apart from that, it is not a whole lot different from normal.

    Kia Sonet 1.5 Diesel Automatic

    Now while I’ve been driving the one liter with the DCT automatic first. Let us switch to the 1.5-liter diesel with the torque converter. Now, that is a different kind of automatic it is it doing better than this one.

    Now I have the diesel automatic, and I do believe I have the better gearbox. Because on the diesel automatic, well, it is a torque converter. Unlike the DCT or the dual-clutch transmission on petrol. And it’s a whole lot smoother as you typically expect, of course. On the torque converter but coupled with the engine. The engine’s refinement and wonderful power delivery. Which is nice and seamless all through it is the better drive experience.

    The diesel, of course, does come with the manual. But unlike the auto where the engine uses a variable geometry turbo on the manual. It uses a regular turbo and puts out a lower output by about 15 horsepower and 10-newton meters of torque.

    Now handling ye,s this one does have a slight difference to the petrol that I was driving before. It is a little nose heavy, but it still feels more reassuring at high speeds. So yeah, on the whole, the diesel auto is the better of the two in terms of a drive experience. Now, who would have thought that right but anyway.

    Kia Sonet Rear Seats

    Let’s talk about how the rear of the car in terms of space. It is okay so that I get to check out the back seat of the Sonet. All set to go well at the outset while someone like me can fit in here. And be quite comfortable with tall people behind other tall people gonna have a shortage of room. Uh, space isn’t greatest in the back seat of the sonet. This may be a saw point for the sonet because, in India, back seat space is often a deal-breaker. Other than that, the seat is comfortable. 

    • Nice recline angle,
    • The window area is nice,
    • And the large window line is low as well,

    So it feels quite nice and airy, and of course, you’ve got the bit of the sunroof. At the front as well to make it open up and feel roomier.

    You do have a nice slot for the phone. You have the USB charging port. Of course, the AC vents are nice and large and direct the air quite nicely. And, of course, the air purifier gauge, which is at the back. Here is the small pocket behind the uh passenger side seat is nice to store your phones as well. And they’re nice slots in the armrests too.

     So, the right quality of the sonet is quite nice.

    • It rounds off all the bumps, potholes,
    • And even on very bad roads,
    • It goes over them quite easily and well doesn’t bottom out anywhere.

    And, that is a very little filter through to the passengers sharper ruts do catch it out sometimes. But on the whole, it is quiet and composed right.

    Kia Sonet 1.0 Turbo iMT

    While we did test the diesel and petrol auto first. We also went back another day to try, the new transmission, the iMT as well. Okay, so if you’ve noticed, I’m not putting my foot out to press the clutch. Yes, today, I have the one-liter turbo with the intelligent manual transmission or the iMT. What does that mean? Well, a manual gear shift but no need to use your left foot for the clutch.

    So how does it work, and how different is it from the AMT? Well, in, the AMT you have two sets of actuators, one that operates the clutch or engages the clutch for you. And the other one that engages your gears, here, you have to, manually shift, the gears. But there is an actuator that will operate the clutch for you. So you don’t need to use your left foot, making driving in traffic a whole lot easier.

    Now, I’m sure you have a whole lot of questions about how this works? What happens when you come to a signal? What happens when you come to a standstill?

    In Traffic

    Well, I’m going to simulate a lot of situations or do them because I am driving in traffic. And let you know more, okay, now let’s see I have come up to a signal, I am going to, deliberately forget, to put it into neutral. Yep, doesn’t stall on me. I’m still in second gear as, you can see, has not installed.

    Now let’s see if it starts again in second gear. Now, if I take my foot off the brake, will it creep forward. Yes, it does. So it is always better to shift into neutral when you come to a signal. And if you did hear the beep, it will prompt you to shift down if you are in a gear higher than the second.

    In Uphill 

    Okay, so I guess the only thing for us to do is try it on a slope. Which I am about to do. So going uphill, stopping midway, stopped. I’m in first gear foot is off. Yep, it holds for about three to four seconds, so good enough to get a start off again. It will also do that if you’re into a higher gear at too low rpm. so you know this lets you have the best of both worlds between an auto, and a manual, while it makes driving in traffic a lot easier. It gives you the fun of a manual where you can shift down whenever you want.

    You to know shifts are not predetermined at certain revs. so it is far more enjoyable to drive you to know especially,

    • when you’re driving a little harder, 
    • you’re cornering 
    • you can use the gearbox to shift down as well 

    So yeah, I think it sort of cuts the best of both worlds. Takes a little bit of getting used to it. Um, while it’s easy enough to keep your left foot down. And not extend it to the clutch every time you shift. What takes a little more getting used to is. When you come to a signal, and you stop, you forget that it isn’t an auto. It still is a manual, and you have to shift down. So yes, that will take a little getting used too. But I think after a good five or ten minutes of driving, I’m pretty used too, the way it functions. So it is not difficult to adapt to it at all.

    Before I sum it up, here are the claimed fuel economy figures for the sonet:-


    Kia Sonet Mileage                   ARAI rated
    Turbo-petrol IMT                    18.2kpl
    Turbo-petrol DCT                    18.3kpl
    Turbo-diesel                            19.0kpl


    The Kia Sonet looks stylish, those interiors well they do have a wow factor. Make you feel like you’re sitting in a car that’s a segment above. and performance is good, and it does come feature loaded. So it has raised the bar in terms of the compact SUV segment. It does fall short in one place, but that is the back seat. It is tight, and there are no two ways about it. We do wish it had more back-seat space, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that from behind the wheel.

    The Kia Sonet, it is an enjoyable experience. If I were to choose between the DCT and the iMT in the one-liter turbo, I would choose the DCT because. It is the one that is quick to respond. And, would make your driving, especially in city conditions, a lot easier. 

    Yet, the real pick of the bunch is the diesel auto. That is brilliant on every front. Now aside from the rear seat, it’s hard to fault the sonet. Of course, pricing will play a key part as well, and it does have a wow factor, I think. Kia has another winner on their hands.

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