Above all else, I’ve always considered festivals as an opportune time to make new beginnings. This year, just as we entered the festive season in the country, I made a new beginning by signing on the dotted line for a Kia Sonet. Frankly, I didn’t have to think too much before I did that. After all, no ordinary vehicle can rack up record sales figures; 9,266 units, I’m told, within twelve days of its launch. My purchase of the Sonet was a decision taken both with the head and the heart, and there were many things that made the decision an easy one.
The first is that it’s an SUV designed and developed for our conditions, and not some car that has been foisted on India as part of a global plan.
The day I first took the Sonet for a test-drive, it made me feel good. I loved how the instrument panel, screen and centre console wrapped around me nicely, and the high seating position. I also digged the fact that I could choose between five gearbox options – five- and six-speed manuals, a clutchless manual or iMT, a torque-converter auto, as well as a dual-clutch auto, mated to either a 1.2 petrol, 1.0 direct-injection turbo-petrol or a 1.5 turbo-diesel engine.
The Kia Sonet’s interiors are of impeccable quality and belong to a segment above.
The quality of the interiors was outstanding as well, and, in my opinion, such levels of quality are usually seen in cars that cost a lot more. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find an SUV that offers over 30 best-in-class features, and these include the ventilated driver and front passenger seats, the premium Bose sound system, and the 10.25 inch HD touchscreen with infotainment and navigation along with Kia’s signature UVO ‘connected car’ technology that offers over 57 features. And then there are things that make you feel even better, such as the LED Sound Mood Lighting, a wireless smartphone charger, and the Smart Air Purifier with virus protection. Heck, I could live in the Sonet if I wanted to.
Kia’s trademark UVO Connect suite of technologies has over 57 features.
My brain was all for buying the Sonet, but it was my heart that finally sealed the deal. That happened because of the way the Sonet looks. On a sunny day, with light glinting off its skin, the Sonet has an energetic vibe to it, and the building blocks to this attitude can be found in those slim LED headlamps and heartbeat DRLs, the muscular power bulge on the bonnet, and the signature Tiger Nose grille. I especially love the blacked-out treatment applied to the top and lower edge of the C pillar and those 16-inch alloys. Frankly, unlike many other cars, the Sonet looks as radical as the concept that was showcased at the Auto Expo, earlier this year. It really made me sit up and take notice back then, and today, each time I drive my car, it makes other road users look longingly at it.
Heart-beat LED DRLs look ace.
Remember what I told you about festivals and how I see them when this story started? Well, apart from new beginnings and time spent with people I care for, I also like the fact that the festivals also provide the opportunity to exchange the greys of the city, for the blue of the sky and the green of the woods. In that sense, I’m highly individualistic and I like to do things at the drop of a hat, you never know what’s coming next. And having a car like the Sonet helps me do just that. Late last month, my best buddy and I chucked in our camping equipment, made loads of sandwiches, and decided to spend a night under the stars by the banks of a little lake near Mumbai.
The road that took us to our hideout involved both urban terrain, the highway and no roads, but the Sonet took it all in its stride. My Sonet’s visual pizazz is matched by its lively 1.5-litre CRDI engine and 6-speed automatic transmission combination that gets you going effortlessly.
The Kia Sonet’s spirited 1.5-litre engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, along with its robust suspension, take the rough and the smooth effortlessly.
There’s a lot of usable torque spread across the rev range and the well-sprung accelerator pedal helps deliver precise inputs irrespective of whether you are negotiating rush-hour traffic, or preparing to blitz slow-movers on the highway. The Sonet’s driving modes – ‘Eco’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ – actually make a difference to the way it drives, and no prizes for guessing which mode you’ll usually find me in. Yes, thanks to that well-weighted steering, driving the Sonet up winding roads in the hills is total fun. What if the roads that led to your preferred destination are rather unpredictable? Well, trust the Sonet to handle it. Its ride quality is impressive, and the SUV simply swallows potholes. It is also way more agile than most SUVs, and all through our journey into the hills, it inspired confidence. Body roll was minimal, it felt well-planted on the Expressway, and turned into corners with an unbridled eagerness. If you ask me, this is an SUV for the enthusiast.
People like me like to do their own thing. In that sense, I’m all for just getting up and getting going. I mean, you could also plan things, but there’s more fun in doing the unexpected. Like, here we are, up in the hills, camped on the banks of a lake on the eve of a festival. It might not be for everyone, but up here, the fresh air, the silence, and the soothing green of the hills makes for a great change from city life. Getting here has taken time and the roads, especially for the last part of the journey were not all that great, but that’s precisely why I love the Sonet.
On a regular day, it is the perfect urban SUV, darting into and out of traffic, breezing ahead of other cars at traffic signals, keeping in a good mood by playing glorious music. And, then on others, when I’m feeling especially hemmed in, it allows me the freedom to pack some stuff and leave the city’s outer limits. In many ways, the Sonet is who I am: a little wild and lots of fun.