DRIVEN: Kia Sonet Turbo is a top choice in the compact SUV space

Published Jul 13, 2022


Launch Review: Kia Sonet 1.0T GDI EX+

Cape Town - The compact crossover market is one of the more hotly contested spaces in Mzansi as we follow the global trend towards moving away from traditional sedans and shift ever increasingly to SUVs.

Ford first saw a gap in the market with the EcoSport and since then almost every manufacturer has joined the fray with the Volkswagen T-Cross currently ruling the roost.

Hot on their heels though is the Kia Sonet, released just over a year ago in 1.5-litre guise and now with a turbocharged 1.0-litre engine option. Since its release the Kia Sonet has found 3 500 new homes and with the introduction of the three cylinder power plant Kia has thrown down the gauntlet in no uncertain terms.

Kia says if it was not for the semiconductor shortage, among other challenges faced by the industry, they would have been able to sell a lot more.

There are two trim levels, a 1.0 T-GDi EX and the EX+ which stands at the top of the Sonet pyramid.

It’s a willing little motor that’s good for 88kW and 172Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, thank goodness not the CVT found in the normally aspirated version, especially up in Gauteng.

It shifts smoothly and is certainly one of the best in the segment with no harsh gear changes and when pressed hard the Sonet picks up speed easily and it will move up or down through the gears as needed with little fuss.

I say speed, but it’s still a small turbo motor that’s very spirited when given the heave-ho but performance wasn’t in the design brief. Still, it’s easier to get going than its 1.5-litre sibling.

You can toggle between Normal, Eco and Sport modes and in the Sonet there’s a marked difference when you switch to Sport, something that’s not always felt in many other (bigger and more expensive) vehicles.

With the fuel price on a continuous upward spiral consumption is now almost top of mind when shopping for a new car. Kia claims 6.0l/100km and on a 200km loop in and around Cape Town with some spirited driving we averaged 6.4l/100km, which isn’t bad at all and with more consumption focussed driving the claimed figure should easily be reached.

The Sonet’s ride quality is good, possibly one of the best in the segment, with decent noise insulation on rougher tar surfaces and only a slight bit of wind noise from the side mirrors.

Built in India, the interior reflects well on the Kia Sonet with a mixture of plastic and faux-leather, a digital instrument cluster that’s easy to read and in the EX+ red stitching adds a sporty feel.

I would have expected the steering wheel to have both rake and reach but you can only move it up or down, still it’s not a deal breaker and there’s decent enough feedback.

The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is both Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible and we used the map to guide us to the various points on the route we drove.

The EX+ has some extra safety features such as two extra airbags (the rest have four), cruise control, rear LED combination lights, climate control, electrochromatic rear view mirror and folding electric side mirrors.

All Kia Sonet models come standard with EBD, ABS and stability control.

If you’re in this market Kia’s 1.0 T-GDi has to be in your top three and if it was me, the unlimited kilometre five-year warranty and pre-paid four-year/60 000km service plan would get my nod.

Kia Sonet Pricing (July 2022)

1.5 LX Manual - R296 995

1.5 LX CVT - R317 995

1.5 EX Manual - R316 995

1.5 EX CVT - R337 995

1.0 T-GDI EX 7DCT - R359 995

1.0 T-GDI EX+ 7DCT - R389 995

IOL Motoring