2024 Kia Sonet drive review: Sportier styling that’s now armed with ADAS

Around three and a half years on, the updated Kia Sonet is making all of the same promises and then some more to flex its muscles. The sub-compact SUV segment remains as fiercely fought as ever with the likes of Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Hyundai Venue and Tata Nexon all receiving recent updates. So how well does the Korean car model in its latest edition mount a challenge?

2024 Kia Sonet: Exterior

The Sonet has always had a confident posture and a clear SUV stance. Measuring in at 3,995 mm in length, 1,790 mm in width and standing 1,642 mm tall, it is the stereotypical sub-compact SUV in most ways. But where it stands out is in its styling on the outside, a factor that has been intricately worked upon in the 2024 edition.

The mid-life update on Kia Sonet now equips its with a sportier and more aggressive design language, marked primarily by the updated ‘Tiger Nose’ grille on the face, re-worked LED DRLs and re-designed fog lamps on the modified front bumper.

Sonet has a wheelbase of 2,500 mm which is among the best in its segment. But it does not translate into expected rear-seat space on the inside. (HT Auto/Kunal Vianayak Thale)

There is no change in terms of dimensions and the only difference on the new model from the side angle are new alloy designs for the wheels. But hustle over to the rear and this is where the Sonet looks its best. A stretched light bar between the reworked tail light units lend the vehicle an extremely catchy appeal while the reworked rear bumper just accentuates the overall profile from the back.

The stretched light bar and the updated tail light design on the new Sonet takes the rear design language of the model closer to what is also seen on the Seltos SUV that was launched in 2023 with its own set of updates. (HT Auto/Kunal Vianayak Thale)

The Sonet continues to be all about choices and comes in seven variants – HTE, HTK, HTK+, HTX, HTX+, GTX+ and X-Line. It also has as many as 10 single tone hues – Glacier White Pearl, Sparkling Silver, Gravity Grey, Aurora Black Pearl, Intense Red, Imperial Blue, Clear White, Pewter Olive, and Matte Graphite, and two dual tone shades – Intense Red and Glacier White Pearl with Black roof.

2024 Kia Sonet: Interior

Kia Sonet
A look at the dashboard layout inside the 2023 Kia Sonet. (HT Auto)

In terms of sheer visual cues, the updates on the inside of the new Kia Sonet is comparatively less. And that’s mostly fine because the model still has a relatively new dashboard layout and only minor changes in the control section for the HVAC. The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment screen has been carried forward but the software has been updated.

The main infotainment screen inside the Kia Sonet. Do note that the white portion at the bottom is the screen cover which was not removed during the test drive. (HT Auto)

But where the Sonet continues to excel in is in the sheer number of features it has always boasted of. And the 2024 model is bragging even bigger. The digital driver display has been updated and is now much more vibrant regardless of the drive mode-determined colour scheme on display. There is also a 360-degree camera set up that is new and the feed is quite crisp. These cameras also compliment the main cam set up at the front that is primarily tasked with ADAS-related duties. And yes, ADAS (Advanced driver assistance system) is more than likely to set it apart from its rivals which don’t offer the technology just yet.

The other feature highlights include an air-purification system, mood lighting that moves to the beats of the music from the Bose sound system, four-way driver seat adjustment through twin switches on the side, window curtains on either side for rear passengers as well as voice-enabled functionality and remote access functions through smartphone.

The upholstery colours on the inside will vary depending on the trim and variant selected but where the Sonet still lacks is rear-seat comfort. While the company has carved out the back of the front seats to open up a bit more leg room and also bolstered under-thigh support, the overall sense of space for back-seat passengers is still missing, especially when compared to many of Sonet’s rival models.

Kia Sonet
Rear seat space and comfort has improved on the latest Kia Sonet but is still shades behind many of its rivals. (HT Auto)

2024 Kia Sonet: Safety

The Sonet remains relatively well-packed as far as safety features are concerned. Six airbags are offered as standard on the model while the other highlights include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Assist Control (HAC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), front and rear parking sensors, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and of course, ADAS.

The ADAS on Sonet offers highlights like Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Following Assist, High-Beam Assist, Lead Vehicle Departure Alert (all tested through the course of this drive), and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

2024 Kia Sonet: Drive dynamics

The Sonet carries forward its three engine options – a 1.5-litre CRDi diesel motor, a 1.2-litre petrol unit and the enormously popular 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine. Transmission options are galore too, ranging from six-speed manual, six-speed iMT and six-speed AT to a seven-speed DCT on the turbo.

And it is the turbo Sonet that was our review unit, complete in its shining Intense Red shade. The Sonet in its turbo avataar is an absolute delight because it is just so energetic in its drive trait. In fact, even in the Eco drive mode, there is more than enough power to put a smile on your face, a smile that gets far wider when the Sport mode is engaged. The DCT unit works nearly flawlessly and apart from the minor grunt from the engine when pushing the pedal hard, there is not much to dent the sheer energy of this particular version.

Kia Sonet
A relatively high driving position and an eager turbo motor makes Sonet a very lively offering for those who have an enthusiastic driving character. (HT Auto/Kunal Vianayak Thale)

The power and torque figures remain the same – 118 bhp and 170 Nm of torque. But what has noticable changed are the tweaks in the suspension setup and the braking bite. The Sonet has always had a rather firm suspension which has now been softened just a bit more to enhance overall comfort. And the braking bite too has been improved for better stopping power.

2024 Kia Sonet: Verdict

The Sonet is a confident car that may not really be for everyone even if it tries. The competition is just too much. What works for it is its catchy styling and an even more excitable feature list now, complete with a plethora of engine and transmission choices. The addition of ADAS is a major leg up too.

Where the Sonet still has room for improvement is in its rear-seat space and comfort. Up against heavyweights like Tata Nexon, Maruti Suzuki Brezza and Hyundai Venue, among others, the task is cut out.

First Published Date: 11 Jan 2024, 10:00 AM IST

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