Undoubtedly one of the biggest stars at the Auto Expo this year, the hotter sibling of the Hyundai Venue looked like a proper showstopper. Having had an exclusive preview before its global launch, I can gladly report that the Kia Sonet has retained most of its oomph and ferocity.
The powerful front-end is a heady mix of typical Kia ‘tiger-nose’ grille with lashings of knurled chrome, fang-shaped LED headlights and muscular fenders to give it a compact-crossover-on-steroids look. But Kia seems determined to impress inside and out and to drive home that point, it has some significant segment firsts. The dashboard is dominated by a sizeable 10.25in touchscreen which is ultra-responsive and quick to react and is linked to the Kia UVO connected car system that includes a new voice assist feature amongst its list of 57 features.
A 7-speaker Bose audio system is another first in the segment, with 4 speakers up front, 2 at the rear and a boot-mounted subwoofer. First impressions are positive and although it lacks a well-defined centre image due to the omission of a centre speaker, it preserves sonic detail and clarity with a solid bottom end that makes for an enjoyable listening experience. LED Sound Mood lamps have ambient lighting in the speaker grilles that pulsate to the beat of the music and could be dismissed as a gimmick or can be used as ambient lighting.
Keeping with the times and above the competition, the Sonet also features an air-purifier with a virus protection filter that should put owners at ease, feeling shielded from the external elements. Both driver and passenger get ventilated seats, wireless charging pad in the centre console, twin USB ports plus a 12V socket. The list of tech doesn’t end there; there’s built in navigation with live traffic information with support for OTA map updates so you can even get by without using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which it also does support by the way.
What I did miss was a rotary knob for a volume control that offers quick, physical feedback. The digital touch controls are great to look at but so much more distracting. Thankfully, the volume control lever on the steering wheel works just fine and should be your go-to control.
The Kia Sonet will hit the roads in the weeks leading up to the festive season and with its arsenal of technology, design and engine/transmission options, it won’t take a genius to predict its success. Stay tuned for our first drive in the next few weeks as we get behind the wheel soon (hopefully!).