KIA Motors unveils the Sonet – an all-new smart urban compact SUV
KIA Motors Corporation, one of the world’s largest automakers, recently revealed the KIA Sonet to the world. Manufactured at KIA’s state-of-the-art production facility at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, the Sonet is KIA’s all-new smart urban compact SUV, and the brand’s latest made-in-India global product after the Seltos. The new Sonet marks KIA Motors’ entry into the burgeoning compact SUV segment, and sets new benchmarks with its first-in-class features.
The world premiere of the production-ready model follows the global unveiling of the Sonet concept at the Delhi Auto Expo in February 2020. Sales of the new car will commence soon in India, with sales in many of KIA’s global markets due to follow.
“KIA Motors continues to be recognised globally through products which offer exquisite design and world-class quality, along with ‘The Power to Surprise’. Everything about the all-new Sonet is uniquely KIA and is sure to delight both drivers and passengers,” said Ho Sung Song, President and CEO at KIA Motors Corporation. “With its aggressive and modern design language, fun-to-drive dynamics, and KIA’s latest high-tech features, the Sonet puts an exclamation point on our ambition to make KIA the brand of choice, especially among millennial and Gen Z consumers. The Sonet fills a need in the growing SUV market, in India and further afield, and will attract a wider number of consumers to the KIA brand.”
“We are extremely excited to introduce the Sonet, which is made in India for the world. After the success of the Seltos and Carnival, we are confident that KIA will revolutionise yet another market segment in India with the Sonet by addressing the unmet needs and aspirations of customers,” said Kookhyun Shim, MD and CEO at KIA Motors India. “The KIA Sonet is designed and developed to deliver a best-in-class experience in quality, design, technology, features and drivability to attract a wide spectrum of customers across segments. The Sonet will be produced at our state-of-the-art Anantapur plant to KIA’s exacting global standards, and we are sure it will be received with enthusiasm by new customers and existing fans of the brand alike.”
The all-new Sonet incorporates KIA’s DNA of emotive styling along with a premium and youthful appeal to create a strong road presence. Displaying a dynamic stance in a confident, compact body, the Sonet showcases a range of styling attributes to make it stand apart on roads around the world. This includes a fresh interpretation of KIA’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, flanked by ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs (daytime running lights), shaped like the electric pulse of a heart, with a stylish front skid plate beneath. Its sporty silhouette is enhanced by the unique design and structure of its C-pillar, matched with a wraparound rear-windscreen. The ‘heart beat’ LED tail lamps also adorn the rear.
Inside, the Sonet is designed around the driver, with a well laid-out, easy-to-use connected infotainment and cluster interface, and high quality materials all around. Despite compact exterior dimensions, the interior of the Sonet offers ample, ergonomic space for all passengers.
The Sonet will be offered with multiple powertrain options to suit virtually all requirements in this segment. A choice of two petrol engines – a versatile Smartstream 1.2-litre four-cylinder and powerful 1.0 T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) – and an efficient 1.5-litre CRDi diesel engine are available with a choice of five transmissions. This includes five- and six-speed manuals, an intuitive seven-speed DCT, six-speed automatic, and KIA’s revolutionary new six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission (iMT). The latter is a technological breakthrough from KIA, offering fatigue-free driving thanks to the absence of a clutch pedal, yet the same driver control as a conventional manual transmission. For the first time in this segment, the Sonet also offers its 1.5-litre diesel engine with the six-speed automatic transmission.
The Sonet’s dynamics and suspension set-up have been tuned by KIA engineers to match its exuberant design and KIA’s sporty and youthful brand image, offering high driving pleasure for enthusiasts.
To suit the requirements of a wide array of customers, the Sonet will be offered in a dual trim concept. This includes the sporty GT-Line trim which enhances the Sonet’s racy appeal for enthusiasts via its multiple design and functional elements, both inside and out. GT-Line models offer an extra dash of sportiness to the Sonet and highlight its dynamic presence on the road.
What’s more, the Sonet is loaded with multiple segment-first features offering complete comfort, convenience, safety and optimum driving pleasure to customers. This includes:
- Largest and best-in-class 10,25-inch (26.03 cm) HD touchscreen with navigation and live traffic;
- Smart Pure Air Purifier with virus protection;
- BOSE Premium seven-speaker audio with sub-woofer;
- Ventilated driver and front-passenger seats;
- LED Sound Mood Lighting;
- Remote engine start for automatic and manual transmission via UVO Connect and Smart Key;
- Over-the-air (OTA) map updates;
- Multi-drive & traction modes and grip control for automatic models;
- Wireless smartphone charger with cooling function.
The all-new KIA Sonet is testament to KIA’s focus on consumer insight-driven product innovation and orientation. It is targeted towards the young generation who are tech-savvy, aspirational and highly connected socially. The Sonet will be launched in India this festive season, in line with KIA Motors India’s promise of offering an all-new product every six to nine months.
The Sonet is all-new, developed and engineered from the ground-up jointly between KIA Motors India and KIA’s global R&D headquarters in South Korea. The production Sonet has been built following extensive market input from India, especially relating to its design, engine and transmission tuning and characteristics, suspension attributes, and the high-tech features it offers. The Sonet has been through extensive road tests in India, where Indian and South Korean engineers in Sonet prototypes covered over 100,000 kilometres across diverse terrain, driving situations, and climatic conditions. The outcome is a compact SUV designed to turn heads on the road, engineered to offer driving pleasure, built to world-leading quality standards, and offered with segment-busting convenience, comfort, safety and features.
The youthful and energetic design of the KIA Sonet is the outcome of a collaborative effort between the KIA Design Centre in Namyang, South Korea and the design team located in India. KIA’s entry into the compact SUV market was first seen by the world at the Delhi Auto Expo in February 2020, where the Sonet smart urban SUV concept was showcased. The brief for the production-ready model was to make it distinctive by design in this highly competitive segment, and present a sporty, youthful outlook. Inspired by modern styling trends, as well as traditional Indian heritage and culture, the Sonet’s exterior styling truly stands apart – not just in its category, but amongst SUVs in general.
KIA’s award-winning design strengths have come into play to make the Sonet every inch a KIA SUV, exemplifying the brand’s confident, young-at-heart attitude, a sporty, rebellious spirit, and a wild-by-design approach. The outcome is a striking SUV design and irresistible road presence that will turn heads in countries around the world.
At the front, the brand’s signature design trait – the KIA ‘tiger-nose’ grille – is reinterpreted to suit the Sonet’s personality. Flanked by ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs and stylish front skid plates below, the wild nature of the Sonet comes alive. Within the tiger-nose grille, with its classy chrome and diamond knurling pattern, is the distinctive grille mesh featuring a three-dimensional geometric design inspired by India’s iconic stepwells. The grille mesh design pays respects to India’s historic strengths in sophisticated mathematics, science and architecture.
The profile is imparted a strong, sporty character thanks to the shape of the hood and bumper, with a cowl point pushed back for an upright stance, a strongly raked A-pillar, and a round roofline that reflects styling. At the rear, ‘heart beat’ LED tail lamps and its unique reflector garnish give the Sonet even greater presence and impart a wider look. Additional highlights at the rear include a sporty dual muffler design and diffuser fin rear skid plate.
The Sonet’s lighting makes it stand out from everything else in this segment. Jewel-like LED headlamps frame the ‘face’ of the car, with ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs with integrated indicators and similar LED tail lamps make the Sonet’s wild personality come alive through its design. Riding on sharp-looking 16-inch crystal-cut alloys in a racy design, the overall impression of the Sonet is that of a strong, powerful and sporty silhouette with a dynamic stance that is hard to miss.
Furthermore, the Sonet is offered with up to eight monotone and three dual-tone exterior colour options.
The Sonet will be offered in a dual trim concept which includes a sports-inspired GT-Line trim, a visible manifestation of KIA’s spirit and luxury appeal, for customers who want an extra dash of sportiness, luxury, safety and attitude with their Sonet.
Inside, the Sonet offers a sophisticated and lively cabin with a smooth, flowing dashboard to appeal to young-at-heart and always-connected consumers. Keeping the comfort of the driver and passengers in mind, the Sonet’s interior offers a modern, dynamic and bold outlook. Intelligent packaging has liberated plenty of leg room, head room and shoulder room for all passengers, and created a large trunk.
The stylish and clutter-free centre console offers a hi-tech feel and easy access to many of the Sonet’s segment-busting features. The Sonet is trimmed in high-quality material throughout, with its dashboard displaying unique detailing. GT-Line models are finished with contrast red stitching on the steering wheel, seats and door armrest, while a D-cut steering wheel adds to its sporty appeal. Ventilated driver and front passenger seats are one-of-a-kind in this category, reinforcing KIA’s ‘Power to Surprise’ philosophy.
Taking centre stage on the dashboard is the largest-in-segment 10.25-inch (26.03 cm) HD touchscreen with infotainment and navigation system – a display that confirms KIA’s premium positioning in the compact SUV segment. The system offers KIA’s intuitive and friendly UVO ‘connected car’ technology. Additionally, the 4.2-inch (10.66 cm) instrument cluster presents important information to the driver in vivid colour and clarity, such as turn-by-turn navigation instructions, Highline Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and drive mode and traction mode selection.
The Sonet aims to delight occupants inside. To create a concert-like ambience, the Sonet is the only vehicle in its category to offer audio performance from BOSE, with a premium seven-speaker system with sub-woofer. Other mood enhancers include the LED Sound Mood Lighting, introducing a level of personalisation unique to this segment, as well as a wireless smartphone charger with cooling function, exclusive to the Sonet.
Additionally, to further promote the safety of drivers and their loved ones, the Sonet is equipped with KIA’s Smart Pure Air Purifier with virus protection. This feature sets the Sonet apart in its segment and once again sets a new benchmark in its category. The new Smart Pure Air Purifier in Sonet has a two-level purification system. The pollutant-cleansing HEPA filter incorporates N29 which uses fibre made from nano-ionic bonding technology of copper sulphide, to remove pollutants and bacteria from the cabin. The second level of filtration is achieved through UVC LED, scientifically proven to kill bacteria and viruses. The system not only effectively cleans out pollutants from the cabin, but also kills bacteria and viruses as it cleans the air.
Powertrain and performance
In keeping with KIA’s motto of ‘The Power to Surprise’, the Sonet offers a surprisingly wide range of powertrain choices in its class. With a choice of three engines and five transmissions, there is an engine-transmission combination for virtually every customer need in this segment. Two petrol engines – a versatile Smartstream 1.2-litre four-cylinder and powerful 1.0 T-GDi – and an efficient 1.5-litre CRDi diesel engine are offered.
The Sonet comes with five transmission options: five- and six-speed manuals, an intuitive seven-speed DCT, six-speed automatic, and KIA’s revolutionary new six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission. Additionally, automatic variants of the Sonet offer Multi-Drive and Traction Modes for added convenience, driver-confidence and safety.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine is offered with a six-speed manual, and, uniquely in in its segment, with a six-speed automatic transmission, an unmet need in this segment to-date. Customers can enjoy the long-legged cruising ability of a diesel engine with the comfort and convenience of an automatic transmission.
Smartstream six-speed iMT
The Sonet is equipped with this revolutionary gearbox, offering a balance between control and convenience. The six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission will redefine the driving experience in India. The iMT is unique in the sense there is no clutch pedal, but there is a gear lever. The clutch is electronically actuated when the driver intends to change gears using the lever, re-engaging when the shift is complete. A sensor detects the movement of the gear lever and disengages the clutch smoothly. When the gears are engaged, the clutch re-engages and gear shift is completed.
The intention sensor is programmed not to activate with only small movements – for instance, if the driver knocks the shift lever. Instead, it sends a signal only when the gear lever has shifted further than a programmed threshold. Essentially, one can drive it like a manual transmission car without having to engage the clutch pedal. This system has been tested extensively on Indian roads in typical Indian driving conditions, and programmed to offer a seamless, smooth and enjoyable driving experience.
Highlights of the Smartstream six-speed iMT
- Less driver fatigue: no need to use a clutch pedal, especially in stop-go traffic
- Longer clutch life: electronically actuated, with no opportunity to ride the clutch
- Smoother ride: clutch release is seamless, offering a smooth manual gear change
What’s more, the iMT has been carefully engineered to anticipate all driving conditions. For example, during a hill-start, an RPM control module prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards. The innovative gearbox has also been programmed not to stall when it sitting in a higher gear at low speeds. The system is intuitive and will feel familiar to drivers of all experience levels.
Ride and handling
In keeping with KIA brand’s sporty, bold and youthful brand persona, the Sonet’s driving characteristics have been tuned to provide an enjoyable experience behind the wheel for driving enthusiasts. The suspension set-up as well as feedback from the electrically-assisted power steering, have been honed to offer a sporty driving experience, providing plenty of feedback to the driver.
The ride and handling have been fine-tuned by KIA engineers at the brand’s Namyang R&D headquarters in Korea and at the brand’s Development Centre at Anantapur, in Andhra Pradesh. Sonet prototypes have been driven and tested for over 100,000 kilometres on Indian roads, and across a variety of conditions, resulting in a driving character that offers a compliant ride quality and high comfort without compromising on its sporty spirit.
KIA is the first automotive brand in India to reach the milestone of having over 50,000 active ‘connected’ cars on the road. This landmark figure is thanks to KIA Motors India pioneering the latest in-car technologies for Indian customers, and offering the intuitive, friendly user interface that KIA’s UVO ‘connected car’ technology provides. These smart, futuristic and secure features make owning and driving a KIA safe, comfortable, convenient and enjoyable.
In keeping with this promise, the Sonet too is offered with KIA’s signature UVO Connect suite of technologies, with a range of 57 features for owners offering convenience, remote control, navigation, safety, security and vehicle management. This also includes KIA’s UVO Voice Assist feature, which responds to the greeting, “Hello, KIA.” This artificial intelligence-powered voice-recognition technology provides an enhanced, connected experience and can be used to operate multiple features: phone calls, weather information, time and date, Indian holiday information, media control, navigation control, climate control, and even finding out the latest cricket scores, and 1st in industry Window up down through voice command.
The super-convenient remote start/stop feature, previously only available for buyers of certain automatic KIA vehicles, will now also be available for models fitted with manual and intelligent manual transmissions.
The Sonet will also be available with the UVO Smart Watch App Connectivity option, allowing users to interact with their vehicle via an Android, iOS or Tizen smartwatch. Additionally, the UVO LITE feature helps to control the Smart Air Purifier and infotainment system, making the Sonet’s connected features even easier to use. Additionally, the car will offer an auto anti-glare (ECM) rear-view mirror with UVO controls, enhancing rear visibility for a safer, more confidence-inspiring drive.
Customer Safety is an utmost priority for KIA Motors globally. More than two thirds of the Sonet’s body is made up of high strength and advanced high strength steel, creating a lightweight yet robust structure. Furthermore, KIA has ensured that every drive in the Sonet is as relaxing and safe as possible thanks to an array of safety measures, created in line with KIA’s own five pillars of safety: Active, Passive, Health, Security and Maintenance. Among the Sonet’s key safety features are:
- Six airbags
- ABS (anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution)
- ESC (Electronic Stability Control), HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management) and BA (brake assist)
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Projector fog lamps
- Highline tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Auto headlamps
- ISOFIX child-seat anchoring points
- The all-new KIA Sonet is expected to make its South African late in 2020. More information about South African specification, powertrains and transmissions will be released closer to the local launch date.