New Kia Sonet SUV Has World Premiere

Kia has been on a bit of a winning streak lately. The company recently won the World Car of the Year with the Kia Telluride, the World Urban Car of the Year with the Kia Soul EV, and the company was also ranked the number one mass-market brand in the JD Power Initial Quality Study. Now, the manufacturer is launching another SUV for its lineup, the Sonet.

A red Kia Sonet sits on a wood boardwalk.
Kia Sonet | Kia Motors

Think of it as a baby elephant

The Sonet is a subcompact SUV, smaller than Kia’s Seltos model. It was launched in India, but a global marketplace roll-out is forthcoming. Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design, said that the Sonet was inspired by a young, passionate, and dynamic culture. He likened the Sonet to a baby elephant, a small, powerful package with the Kia tiger-nose grille.

A rear 3/4 shot of the driver's side of a red Kia Sonet
Kia Sonet | Kia Motors

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Technology within the Kia Sonet 

Lawrenz Glaab, the Vice President and Head of Global Product Management for Kia, reviewed the technology of the Sonet. He acknowledged that information is at consumers’ fingertips. So, intelligent cars are increasingly more important. Connected cars, according to Mr. Glaab, will become part of the ecosystem of each individual, a natural extension. So, Kia is focusing on providing the consumer safety, comfort, and convenience, but also on an emotional connection, such as joy. 

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Technology in the interior

Indeed manufacturers across the globe have been looking at vehicle interiors pretty closely, and incorporating not just information, but feel-good things. To that end, highlights of the new Kia Sonet include a virus protection smart air purifier, a large infotainment display measuring 10.25-inches with voice recognition, wireless charging, LED mood lighting, front ventilated seating, and a Bose sound system. 

The black interior of an Indian right-hand-drive Kia Sonet
Kia Sonet | Kia Motors

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Transmission and engine choices for the new Kia Sonet

Sonet is being launched in India and will filter to other nations eventually. The Kia Initially, it will be available in India with a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. But, look for those options to change by the time the SUV reaches US shores. The presentation of the new Sonet also spent a good deal of time explaining the new 6-speed IMT (Intelligent Manual Transmission). The IMT transmission has no clutch pedal. However, shifting through the gears is still controlled by the driver.

The engine options presented in the worldwide launch of the Sonet were for the Indian market. So, look for selection to change before the little SUV when it arrives in the US. Initially, there was a 1.2-liter gas, 1.0-liter gas, and a 1.5 diesel. Suspicion is that the 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder, gas engine found in the Hyundai Venue, will be mated to the Sonet once it arrives here.

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The Sonet GT

A GT trim was also introduced with the Kia Sonet model. It is claimed to have a design that expresses a sportier spirit, luxury affairs, and attitude. A red accent will run along the front, and rear bumpers, and red brake calipers will hide behind the wheels. Red stitching and metal foot pedals will also be found in the interior of the GT trimmed Sonet.

A red brake caliper is tucked in behind a silver wheel with a red accented center cap that says, Kia.
Sonet GT wheel and red brake caliper | Kia

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Crowded competition in the subcompact SUV segment

The Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Venue, Jeep Renegade, and Toyota C-HR fit in as competitors to the Kia Sonet in the subcompact SUV category. Unfortunately, no pricing has been released for the market in the United States. So, a price point comparison is not possible at this time. Speculation would hazard a guess at around $18,000 for the starting price. For reference, the Buick Encore starts at $23,200, the Honda HR-V starts at $20,920, the Hyundai Venue starts at $17,350, the Jeep Renegade starts at $22,620, and the Toyota C-HR $21,295.

Overall, the Kia Sonet comes across as a little urban, fun to throw around, go-getter with all the modern technology a person may need. Unfortunately, the consumer in the United States will have to wait for the little SUV to get over here from India, probably not more than a year or two, though. For now, the Sonet is expected to take the Indian market by storm. Then again, that is what any manufacturer says about any new product. So, wait and see will be the prevailing attitude.