Home / Drives / 2024 Kia Sonet First Drive Review – Poetic Rebirth

 

A small car doing big things is not strange to the world any more. The 2024 Kia Sonet elevates its game to make it an even more outstanding offering. We drove it in Bhopal.

Bhopal was a first for me. The magnificent Jehan Numa Palace beckoned. Kia have a way of being bold and doing things differently and I had high hopes. Not just because of the hype around the new Kia Sonet, but because the previous Sonet proved that the “sub-four-metre SUV” or “compact SUV” category didn’t fit into just one segment. At the very least, there were lower and higher choices. Considering build quality, choice of material, safety kit, overall equipment, and just plain, raw feel, it was clear that some were created to excel while others were created to exist. Based on my experience with the previous car, the Kia Sonet sits at the very top of the peaky compact SUV mountain. And they’ve just made it better.

Given the choice, the 2024 Kia Sonet diesel automatic variant was a no-brainer for me. In its X-Line guise—barring the extremely photogenic matte grey paint finish on an overcast day—it’s easily the most advanced variant on sale; and not just in Kia’s line-up, but the entire category. There was a fleet of matte graphites as well as a fleet of reds as everyone made their way towards the highway.

The Kia Sonet’s design has seen some subtle and some obvious tweaks, even within variants, to keep things interesting, with new skid-plates, bumper and air-dam designs, wheel sizes and patterns, paint shades, as well as new LED lighting complementing the signature “Tiger-nose” grille—the “Crown Jewel” LED headlights with seemingly Renault-inspired daytime light signatures, and the starry-something tail-lamps connected by a lightbar a la its badge-engineered counterpart, the Hyundai Venue. It’s a nice-looking package with striking elements. The fog-lights are also new, with LED slits positioned below the main beams; some other variants get an ice-cube-style stacked layout.

Our car was equipped with the 16-inch crystal-cut alloy wheels and 215/60 rubber. Sharp and more than adequate for the job at hand: managing rubbish road surfaces for the most part with sudden roadworks on highways; partially why the SUV body-style and its higher ride height is preferred here. And this one now has discs front and rear, with an intelligent anti-lock braking system. The highlights outside are, of course, the new light elements and the wheels, and, if one looks closer, a new camera at the front for the new suite of advanced driver assistance features.


Inside the 2024 Kia Sonet , there is a different vibe to the cabin with a number of new interior and upholstery themes, depending on the variant/trim level selected. Our X-Line gets two-tone green and black upholstery with red contrast stitching, a ribbed seat base for extra comfort, and even ventilation for the front seats, plus a four-way powered driver seat, not to mention one-touch power windows for all four side windows—cementing its position as the king of the sub-four-metre-compact-SUV hill. And there’s more!

The new interface uses a pair of 10.25-inch full-colour screens, one a fully digital cluster with a colour LCD multi-information display for the driver and the other a centre HD touchscreen with navigation, with the installation making it a seamless bar of glass to behold. Very snazzy and very 2024, to say the least. The new Sonet also gets a powered sunroof plus a smart air-purifier with virus and bacteria protection mounted below the front centre arm-rest. And the list continues with the Bose premium sound system and a wireless charging pad with the option of USB Type C or Type A ports as well. Besides, all of these are easier to access thanks to over 70 connected features and voice commands that identify commands in English, Hindi or even the combined Hinglish mash-ups. The Kia Connect app enhances the user-vehicle connection with additional options via a dedicated app, available for both Android and Apple devices.

At the rear, there is a fair amount of space even for larger-framed individuals. Kia have optimized rear knee-room with a deeper scoop into the front seat-backs for this purpose. All five seat-belts are three-point units. The 2024 Kia Sonet boot now has a volume of 385 litres with a wide loading lip and space profile. The rest of the car feels as good if not better than before. The quality of material feels top-shelf, I have to say, speaking as a finicky and nitpicking individual.

One big change is the addition of the Level 1 ADAS (or the advanced driver assistance systems), including a dedicated ADAS front camera plus four additional cameras for the 360-degree surround view monitor as well as the blind-view monitor. The feature list of the 2024 Kia Sonet now covers camera-based smart cruise control and lane departure warning and keep thanks to active steering assist. Plus, the collision warning system, the digital info-display with twin dials for speedo and tacho, which switch at a moment’s notice to display the feed from the blind-view monitor; making both lane-changes and manoeuvring easier.

What else? There are six airbags—dual front, dual front side, and side curtain airbags—as standard, plus electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist, park assist, and many more modern connectivity and convenience features that make life easier on the go. And this Sonet can really go.

The 2024 Kia Sonet D.15 CRDi X-Line we have here packs a cutting-edge compression-ignition, high-pressure common-rail direct injection diesel engine with a variable-geometry turbocharger, which now adopts a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system for the most advanced exhaust emission control. The engine is now available with a conventional three-pedal six-speed manual, a two-pedal intelligent manual, as well as the smooth and convenient six-speed torque-converter automatic we have here. The four-cylinder engine displaces 1.5 litres and delivers 116 hp at 4,000 rpm with a hefty peak of 250 Nm coming in as early as 1,500 rpm with a 1,250-rpm plateau until 2,750 rpm. Of course, highway speed sees the CRDi four-pot turning over at barely 1,200 rpm. There was some audible clatter as the engine got up to temperature and its relaxed 800-rpm idle on that foggy 12°C January morning but, on the move, it turned even fainter and was soon overpowered by the sensation of speed from the potent build-up of torque. The driveability is outstanding. The drive modes—a relaxed “Eco”, an aptly normal “Normal”, and a more aggressive “Sport”—make for dazzling dial display changes as well as noticeable changes in driving feel.

The steering wheel is now a D-cut almost-circle with good feedback and nice weighting. It feels precise while the suspension lends a nice planted feel to the package. It could be considered slightly stiff but the damping on compression and rebound is exceptionally well-calibrated and makes for confident handling with the 2024 Kia Sonet flattening out undulations and broken bits of road. The four discs make for quicker and sharper stopping within a shorter distance and, in case of an emergency braking manoeuvre, make for little or no pitch, aided by the flashing high stop-lamp. All in all, the package seems further improved dynamically and has—and I mean this in a good way—a very German feel to it. The diesel is extraordinarily efficient and is one of the cleanest engines around. The Kia Sonet is not a heavy car but it feels like a robust place to be in, a little hatch to drive, and quite engaging too. High points awarded.


Need to Know – 2024 Kia Sonet D1.5 X-Line

Price: Rs 15.69 lakh (ex-showroom)
Engine: 1,493 cc, in-line four, turbo-diesel
Max Power: 116 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Max Torque: 250 Nm @ 1,500-2,750 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, automatic, front-wheel drive
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam axle rear
Weight: 1,250 kg (estimated)


 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez

 

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