Unveiled in India for the global market, Kia has finally unveiled the Sonet subcompact crossover SUV. The Kia Sonet slots below the Kia Stonic and especially the Seltos, measuring at just a touch below four meters long. This also makes the Sonet the smallest SUV to ever come out from the South Korean automaker.
“Kia Motors continues to be recognised globally through products which offer exquisite design and world-class quality, along with ‘The Power to Surprise’. Everything about the all-new Sonet is uniquely Kia and is sure to delight both drivers and passengers,” said Ho Sung Song, President and CEO at Kia Motors Corporation. “With its aggressive and modern design language, fun-to-drive dynamics, and Kia’s latest high-tech features, the Sonet puts an exclamation point on our ambition to make Kia the brand of choice, especially among millennial and Gen Z consumers. The Sonet fills a need in the growing SUV market, in India and further afield, and will attract a wider number of consumers to the Kia brand.”
The all-new Kia Sonet’s design is the result of a collaboration between the Kia Design Center in Namyang, South Korea, and the design team located in India. It certainly projects a striking look that aims to capture the hearts of young car buyers. Highlighting the front fascia is a fresh interpretation of Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille which is flanked by ‘heartbeat’ LED daytime running lights due to their shape mimicking the electric pulse of a heart. There’s also a faux skid plate underneath to highlight the Sonet’s rugged nature. The SUV’s sporty silhouette is enhanced by the unique design and structure of its C-pillar, matched with a wraparound rear-windscreen. The ‘heartbeat’ design is also seen in the LED tail lamps, which project a striking glow at night.
Moving inside, and drivers will appreciate the Kia Sonet’s driver-focused layout. Dominating the dashboard is a large 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system, which is framed together with the partly digital gauge cluster. The Kia Sonet also features a plethora of class-leading features, such as ambient lighting, remote engine start, wireless smartphone charging with cooling, and even a 7-speaker Bose sound system with a subwoofer.
Three engine choices are offered for the Sonet small SUV. The first one is the Hyundai Motor Group’s new Smartstream 1.2-liter naturally-aspirated gasoline engine. There’s also a turbocharged 1.0-liter gasoline engine and an efficient 1.5-liter diesel engine. Surprisingly, there are five transmission choices, which include a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, 6-speed automatic, and the Hyundai Motor Group’s revolutionary 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT).
What sets apart the iMT from other manual transmissions is the absence of a clutch pedal, but there is still a gear lever. The clutch is electronically actuated when the driver intends to change gears using the lever, re-engaging when the shift is complete. An “intention sensor” detects the movement of the gear lever and disengages the clutch smoothly. When the gears are engaged, the clutch re-engages and the gear shift is completed.
The intention sensor is programmed not to activate with only small movements, such as when the driver accidentally knocks the shift lever. Instead, it sends a signal only when the gear lever has shifted further than a programmed threshold. Essentially, one can drive it like a manual transmission car without having to engage the clutch pedal. Kia says this system has been tested extensively on Indian roads in typical Indian driving conditions and programmed to offer a seamless, smooth, and enjoyable driving experience.
The Kia Sonet will go on sale in India soon, with global markets to follow right after.