2024 Kia Sonet Turbo DCT review: Enough to take on the Tata Nexon?
The Kia Seltos established the Korean brand in India, but it was the Sonet that took it to the masses. The compact SUV segment has the ability to reach a wide strata of people owning to the variety of engine options, equipment levels, and price points. The Kia Seltos, when launched back in 2020, did this better than most. It had a wide spread of variants, with one for everyone. And it was packed to the faux roof rails with features. So much so, that rivals quickly took note and updated their cars to stay relevant. Since its launch, key rivals like the Hyundai Venue, Maruti Suzuki Brezza and Tata Nexon have received comprehensive updates making life for the Sonet difficult. Kia is looking to change that with this facelift. The update brings exactly what you’d expect — fresher styling, upgraded interiors and equipment, and small mechanical tweaks.
2024 Kia Sonet styling
The styling on the new Sonet is neat — the headlamps are a new shape with LED lights and DRLs, there’s a new bumper both front and rear, the taillamps now resemble the Seltos’ and the wheel designs are new. There are over four wheel designs available across variants. With its various trims, and then styling packs at the top end (like the Tech Line, GT Line and X Line), the Sonet can look fairly different from one variant to the next. We’re driving the X Line, with its matte black paint and glossy black trim — the nicest looking of the lot in my opinion.
2024 Kia Sonet interiors and features
On the insides, the changes are immediately visible — there’s a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster on these top end variants. It is identical to the one in the Seltos, which is a good thing. You get a mock tacho and speedo dial which are very easy to read. The graphics change depending on which drive mode you’re in and it does do its job in uplifting the in-cabin experience. The other big change is the addition of ADAS. This is camera-based Level 1 ADAS, not the fancy radar business that the Seltos gets. It still does plenty, including front collision warnings and assist, and lane keep assist. They do what they say on the box, but unless you’re on a well marked highway, you’re better off leaving them off. Like Hyundai, I love the fact that they stay off when you turn off the car. There’s no need to singe your turn-ADAS-off path to muscle memory.
That aside, equipment levels remain impressive. The 360-degree camera, ventilated front seats, the blind spot camera that throws up visuals on the full digital dash and front sensors give it the edge over the Venue. Other features include an air purifier, wireless phone charger and a 7-speaker Bose sound system. Wish it had wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, though. You’re still fiddling with a (type A!) USB cable here while the world has moved on. Kia has updated a few things at the back — the seat is about 21mm longer to give better under thigh support and the front seats are scooped out more deeply at the back. This does make the Sonet slightly more comfy at the rear for four. The width still compromises space for five. The rear sunshade is a much appreciated touch. Saves you from sun tans and nosey parkers.
2024 Kia Sonet engines and performance
As for the drivetrains, they remain the same as before — the 1.2-litre nat-asp petrol (accounting for 55 per cent of bookings of this new Sonet), the 1.0-litre turbo (25 per cent) and 1.5-litre diesel (20 per cent). The manual is back in the diesel line up, but we were driving the turbo-petrol with the DCT. Specs are identical — 118bhp and 172Nm — as is performance. It feels quick, sprightly with plenty of zing when you rev it out. The DCT remains quick and smoother than most others. Kia claims to have worked on the NVH levels on this car. I’d have to drive it back to back with an older Sonet to confirm, but the experience did feel rather quiet and refined while cruising along at highway speeds. The three cylinder thrum is impossible to hide when revving it out hard, but at low to medium revs, the HVAC fan is more bothersome.
Another claim — in a tiny mention on the product presentation — was that dampening was tweaked to make it more comfortable on bad roads. You still feel most of what you’re driving over — the Sonet does tend to transfer even the smaller undulations up your backside, but they feel more rounded off. That sharpness that I’d associate with the Sonet’s ride is no longer there. It is still firm, it will still rock around on an undulating road but it does a better job of it. Handling is good, and while the steering feels way too light in normal mode, Sport mode does exactly what you’d want and tighten it up. A worthy mechanical upgrade with this facelift is the addition of rear discs, which reduce braking distance and improve brake feel.
2024 Kia Sonet price and verdict
Overall, the tweaks to the Sonet are important ones. They attempt to address the shortcomings of the older car — rear seat comfort and ride, while fattening up the already plump spec sheet. New styling is always welcome. The strengths of the Sonet remain. Great styling, a strong arsenal of features and a package that is genuinely enjoyable to drive. Prices weren’t out at the time of writing this review, but expect them to be in the region of Rs 8 to Rs 15 lakh, keeping the Sonet on par with the likes of its biggest rivals — the Hyundai Venue and Tata Nexon.