That Kia is working on a compact SUV for India had been a bit of an open secret right up until the Kia Sonet made its world premiere at Auto Expo 2020. Entering one of the most lucrative spaces of the market has been high up on Kia’s priority list, and it’s well known that the carmaker's sub-four-metre SUV will share its underpinnings with its cousin, the Hyundai Venue. Kia, however, has pulled out all the stops to make sure the Sonet can go one up on the Hyundai.
One look at the Sonet and you’ll immediately know that Kia has made quite an effort to distinguish it from the Venue. It doesn’t have the upright proportions of the Hyundai, but, instead, it looks chunkier and more hunkered down. Kia’s signature 'Tiger Nose' grille meshes well with the LED headlights, and the sculpted bonnet adds more visual muscle. Another interesting styling detail is how the paintjob wraps up and around the C-pillar, giving the Sonet a mini-Land Rover Discovery Sport feel. Even at the back, the Sonet’s width is accentuated by large tail-lights linked by an LED light bar.
Yes, the flush-fitting door handles, small outside mirrors, and the massive 18-inch wheels shod with 255-section tyres won’t be seen on the production model, but the concept previews 90 percent of what you will see in showrooms later this year. All in all, the Kia Sonet appears decidedly muscular and not related to the Venue in any way.
But it’s not just the styling. Kia will, unsurprisingly, load the compact SUV to the brim with features. Part of the Sonet’s feature list will be a largest-in-class 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system (borrowed from the Seltos), the UVO Connect connected car tech, and a premium sound system from Bose, to name a few.
Even more interesting are the powertrain options on offer. While the Kia Sonet will get the same engine options as the Hyundai Venue, there'll also be an option of a 6-speed manual gearbox and an intelligent manual transmission (iMT) as well. An iMT features auto-rev matching, and is designed to make driving a manual car easier for new drivers since it removes the need to use the clutch while shifting gears.
What’s more, the Kia Sonet diesel will also come with the option of a 6-speed automatic transmission. Now, the carmaker understands adding a 6-speed automatic (which will be expensive as it is imported) will bring the price of the Sonet diesel-AT on par with the entry-level version of the Seltos, but they want to offer the choice to customers who are willing to pay. Aiding Kia is the fact that its relatively small dealer network allows it to offer its models in multiple variants and configurations, something that is a logistic and inventory nightmare for Hyundai, which has a significantly larger network.
In its first full year of sales, Kia aims to sell over 70,000 units of the Sonet, and even sees great potential in the compact SUV for the export market.
Do you think the Kia Sonet has the potential to race to the top of compact SUV sales charts? Let us know in the comments.