Kia Sonet | The next big thing
Kia Motors India has received over 50,000 units of the Sonet and one of the key elements driving the record sales numbers is the Sonet’s design. With design being the core focus, Kia laid the groundwork for the Seltos that was a runaway success and now the Sonet strongly builds on the same script. The Sonet is made in India, for the world and its design is an amalgamation of Kia’s global design philosophies and the inspirations the brand drew from India. The compact SUV segment being unique to India, Kia Motors met the design and engineering challenges head-on with the all-new Sonet and now that the car is here, we cannot stop talking about how it beats the odds by looking so good.
Kia Motors has won the prestigious Red Dot design award as many as 25 times since 2009 and its mastery in design has won over buyers across the globe. With all these accolades in its back catalogue, the expectations from the brand were high and Kia clearly delivered. The Sonet is the outcome of a collaborative effort between Kia’s design center in Namyang, South Korea and its design team in India. The brief was simple — for such a highly competitive segment, create a design that’s distinctive and one that’s inclusive of the styling trends. The design team led by Karim Habib, senior vice president and head of Kia Global Design went to great lengths to make this happen. The Sonet is made in India, for the world, and to add relevance to the project, a team of Kia’s designers travelled extensively through the country before development even started. There were some major takeaways from their journey, “The Sonet was inspired by India. It was influenced by the young, passionate, and dynamic Indian culture. We were also inspired by the traditional architecture, but also the modern architecture that you find in the fast developing Indian cities '', said Karim Habib during the global unveil of the Sonet.
How do you incorporate these takeaways into the car’s design? For starters, Kia got the proportions bang on, and despite the sub four-metre restrictions the Sonet cuts a striking shape from every angle. The upright SUV silhouette is what Kia believes appeals to young Indians, and looking at the number of SUVs on the road today, it’s an accurate judgement. The surfacing is clean and smooth, free from the overdone cuts and creases that we’re used to seeing nowadays. However, the devil lies in the details and that’s where the Sonet comes to life. Up front there’s a fresh interpretation of the Kia’s trademark tiger nose grille that itself is inspired from India’s very own ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’. It houses a pattern that draws inspiration from the ninth century Chand Baori stepwells in Rajasthan, one of India’s hidden gems that the design team explored as they travelled the country. The 1100-year-old stepwell has one of the rarest designs in the world and its exquisite geometry creates a symmetry that looks captivating. The grille is flanked by chrome elements that represent the tusks of a baby elephant.
Moving further, the Sonet features ‘Crown Jewel’ LED headlamps that are prominent upfront while the LED DRLs and taillamps are shaped like the electric pulse of the heart (hence the ‘heart-beat' prefix). Kia also harks back to one of its core design philosophies, the ‘simplicity of a straight line’. Look closely and that’s reflected through the straight LED light bar at the rear accentuating the width of the car and the red inserts on the skid plates and body cladding of the range-topping GT Line trims. Speaking of red inserts, there are more of these on the GT Line trims. The grille gets dotted red inserts and my favourite are the red brake calipers that look like they’re straight out of Kia’s sportier global offerings like the Stinger GT.
The Sonet is primarily targeted at young, tech-savvy Indians and Kia has addressed this audience by adding a lot of interactive technology in the cabin. A 10.25-inch touchscreen sits atop the dashboard and it’s the largest infotainment system in its segment. Additionally, the 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster presents important information to the driver. There are also a number of segment first features that include an air-purifier with virus protection, cooling function for the wireless charger, and traction modes (snow, mud, sand) on the automatic gearbox, among many others. Thanks to smart engineering, Kia has managed to open up ample cabin space to ensure comfort. Tall passengers can be at ease thanks to a good amount of head and knee room. The leatherette seats offer sufficient cushioning making them great for long journeys. Not to mention the segment leading 392-litres of boot space that can gobble up full-size suitcases easily. Coming from the cold and dry weather of Pune, we had a tough time coping up with the humidity and scorching heat of Mumbai during the media drives. In this climate, the Sonet’s cabin was a saviour. As soon as our shoot was done with, we cocooned ourselves in the comfort of the Sonet where the large double-layered air vents and ventilated front seats cool the cabin in a matter of seconds. The Sonet also creates a concert-like ambience with its segment best 7-speaker Bose sound system with ambient lights that dance to the beats of the audio. You live with your car everyday and by designing an interactive cabin, Kia has made sure that you feel natural and comfortable doing so.
It’s not just the design department where the Sonet excels. Driveability is exceptional as well and there are as many as five engine gearbox options to choose from. Apart from the regular manual, you can have the 118bhp turbo-petrol with the clutchless Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) or the slick DCT. The torquey 113.5bhp diesel is also offered with a smooth six-speed automatic that makes driving around congested city roads easy. More aspects that contribute to the driveability include a light steering, smooth and progressive throttle and a great driving position that lets you perfectly judge the road ahead.
We no longer live in an era where the mere functionality of nuts and bolts is the sole thing that matters. Cars have evolved into beautiful examples of artwork, and design and styling hold the power to emotionally entice potential buyers. Moreover, a design that encapsulates other important aspects like comfort and driveability makes for a winning recipe. Thanks to the extensive homework done by Kia designers, India now has an SUV that fits the bill perfectly. With all the right boxes ticked, the Sonet is ready to barge into the burgeoning compact SUV segment and have a lasting impact.