It wouldn't be wrong to say that Kia Motors India has taken the Indian market by storm in less than 12 months of its presence in the market
The Seltos SUV it launched in August last year accounts for close to 98 % of Kia's total sales in India, while the remaining 2 % comes from the Carnival MPV. In the process, the company has become the fastest manufacturer in the country to reach the 100,000 unit sales milestone.
In this brief period, the company has set new benchmarks in terms of product quality, set-up a robust network, and has delivered seamless customer experience to its customers, thus creating a mark unlike any other manufacturer in the country in recent times. Kia Motors India is now ready with its third product for India, its second ‘made in India’ product, the compact SUV Sonet.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
When Kia launched the Seltos in the market, it offered customers a wide array of variants (16 of them!) to choose from. The Sonet, too, is likely to be offered with multiple powertrain and trim options. In addition to the HT line, the Sonet will also come with a GT line, becoming the first SUV in the segment to be offered a sporty trim. The highlights of the GT line include a black high-glossy grille with GT Line logo and red accents on the front, red stitching on the steering wheel, seats and door armrest. At the rear, the GT line gets the piano black diffuser fin skid plates with red accents.
The powertrain portfolio in the Sonet is expected to include a 1.2 l naturally-aspirated as well as a 1 l turbocharged petrol unit that are currently available on the Hyundai Venue, while the 1.5 l diesel engine will be the one used in the Seltos SUV. While the 1.2 l petrol unit is expected to come with a manual transmission, the 1 l petrol engine is likely to be offered with three transmission options – a manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and the newly introduced 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) unit. The diesel unit is likely to get two transmission options – a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The iMT is certainly going to be the highlight of the portfolio. Although Hyundai has already introduced this technology on the Venue, the Sonet is only likely to further popularise this technology among the masses. The iMT is a clutch-less shifting option handled electronically, although the control lies with the driver though a manual shift lever.
As was done with the Kia Seltos, the company is also lining up the Sonet with rich features. The company claims to have introduced over 30 segment-first features across design, performance and connectivity areas. For the first time in the segment, the Sonet will come with an India first Smart Pure air purifier with virus protection – addressing the current concerns with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 10.25-inch AVNT (audio video navigation telematics) unit with live traffic information is a segment-first, and so is the diesel variant with an automatic transmission. Then there is a smart key remote engine start feature both in the AT and MT variants. Another feature Sonet owners will surely appreciate is the front row driver and passenger ventilated seats. Add to that the suite of UVO connected technology with 57 features.
The instrument cluster is 4.2-inch (10.67 cm) in size, and displays turn-by-turn navigation, high line tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and multi drive modes and grip control. Sound duties are performed by the 7-speaker system from BOSE that comes with subwoofer, claimed to be the loudest range made by BOSE.
Describing the Sonet, while sharing the design sketches with the media, Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design at Kia Motors Corporation had said the Sonet has been given a strong and muscular character found only in much larger vehicles. And we couldn’t disagree. The Sonet certainly looks bigger than its dimensions, and features very sporty design touches all around. The front sports Kia’s characteristic tiger-nose grille. It also features a three-dimensional stepwell geometric grille mesh inspired by Indian architecture, said Kia, and offers a strong visual impression overall.
The headlamps are called Crown Jewel LEDs, while the ‘Heartbeat’ LED DRLs with integrated side turn indicators and ‘Heartbeat’ LED tail lamps certainly give the Sonet a lot of attractiveness and high scores in the lighting department.
The cabin is spacious and sophisticated with good quality materials all around. Fit and finish is of high quality as well. The AC vents in the dashboard are design in a unique diamond-knurled pattern with metallic inserts. In addition to the usual controls, the steering wheel also has options to select drive and traction modes.
From a safety perspective, the Kia Sonet will feature an extensive list of active and passive safety equipment, including six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, HAC, VSM and brake assist. In addition, there are many other health safety, security and maintenance features that make the Sonet a very safe product overall. On offer are front & rear parking sensors, projector fog lamps, auto headlamps and Isofix child anchor. The body of the Kia Sonet is made using over 67 % high strength and advance high strength steel.
Ever since the company announced its introduction in India, the Sonet has remained one of the most anticipated product launches in the market. The sub-four metre SUV segment has seen fierce competition over the last couple of years among the likes of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300 and Ford EcoSport. The Sonet will likely throw a stiff challenge to the incumbents in the segment, which will also see the introduction of a few more products in the coming times, including the Renault Kiger (HBC), Toyota Urban Cruiser and the Nissan Magnite.
With the aggressive approach that Kia Motors India has adopted in the market, there is little doubt that it will go all out to woo the potential customers in the compact SUV segment. And we won’t be surprised at all to see Kia outwit the competition with smart and aggressive pricing of the Sonet. Having said that, we don’t yet know how the Sonet will drive and perform on road. But that’s something for another day.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Kia Motors India