I absolutely love everything about this car. It’s fantastic to drive, looks really beautiful, the cabin feels luxurious and is packed with features.
BHPian robincsamuel recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
It’s been two years and 15,000 kilometers with our Sonet. Initially, I kept postponing the idea of writing about it, but then I realized it would be nice to document my long-term review. So, I finally found the motivation to put my thoughts into words.
- I absolutely love everything about this car. It’s fantastic to drive, looks really beautiful, the cabin feels luxurious and is packed with features. Instead of repeating the commonly mentioned positives, let me share a few points that I think are worth highlighting.
- I’m really impressed with the TGDI engine and powertrain combination; it’s fast and responsive. The car’s handling is decent too.
- The ventilated seats are something I absolutely love. They have spoiled me, and now I immediately feel the effect when I drive a car without them.
- The connected car experience with UVO/Kia Connect (excluding voice recognition) has been nice. I think it’s the best in the segment. I’m highly satisfied with it, and I’m planning to renew the subscription.
- I appreciate some nifty features like the fan speed automatically lowering during hands-free calls, and the prompt suggesting nearby fuel pumps when the fuel level is low. There are a few such additions that really enhance the overall driving experience.
- The in-built navigation is decent, though it’s not good as google maps when it comes to real-time traffic and accuracy. However, the interface is great, especially the way it shows the road previews and integration with the instrument cluster.
- A few misses such as wireless phone projection, cornering lamps, cooled glove box, and 60:40 split for the rear seats.
- The 1.0 TGDI engine lacks low-end torque, which makes it a bit difficult to drive slowly on uphill slopes, especially on narrow, steep grades with turns. It can be quite frustrating.
- The unknown crash safety; considering the ratings of other Hyundai/Kia cars in India, I don’t expect the crash rating to exceed 3 stars.
- The service experience in tier-3 cities has been disappointing. The service advisors seem unsure about things that are clearly stated in the owner’s manual. I’ll provide more details on that later.
- I hate the over-the-air updates, I wish there was an option to update via USB.
- The fixed armrest is not practical for short people unless the seats are pushed all the way back. I wish they were sliding.
- The Decision to Buy a New Car
The 2011 Santro Xing is our family’s very first car.
We live in Bangalore and only use the car when we visit our hometown. The car had minimal usage in the past five years, adding only around 5000 kms. Most of its running took place when I was in Kerala.
In 2019, we started thinking about purchasing a new car. And we set a timeline of 4-5 years, with the intention of saving up for the car.
After the first wave of COVID-19, we decided to temporarily move to Kerala. We took a flight from BLR to TRV, but the flying experience was terrible, especially with a 2-year-old and following COVID protocols. The flight was delayed due to an aircraft issue; we had to change the flight after boarding. My friend brought our Santro to the airport so that we could travel alone as per the quarantine protocols. However, upon getting in the car, it wouldn’t start! It was around 9 pm, and we couldn’t locate a workshop for assistance. I opened up the hood and inspected components like the air filter, and luckily, the car eventually started. I was worried the car might not start again if I stop, as I was unsure about the problem. So, I kept driving without any breaks until we reached home. Later, I got the car checked at the Hyundai service, but they didn’t find any issues.
Then, during another local trip, both the front tyres suddenly blew out. It turned out there was an alignment problem and one side of the tyres was worn out excessively.
All these incidents prompted us to consider changing the car, even though we haven’t experienced any of these issues since then. One other reason we made the decision was that we planned to travel from Bangalore to Kerala by road going forward.
Choosing the Perfect Car
The primary requirements:
- A compact crossover. We all are used to high seating and prefer the same. Also, a vehicle with a high ground clearance works best in my hometown (Pathanamthitta, Kerala).
- Petrol Engine.
- Proper Automatic Transmission.
- Six airbags, ISOFIX, and Active safety features such as ESP and Hill Assist.
After considering our requirements, we had the Hyundai Creta in mind as a potential choice. We decided to visit the dealership to check out the car in person. While we liked the Creta, we soon realized that it has more space than what we actually needed. We felt that the rear space would be excessive, especially considering that it would primarily be our daughter using the rear seats. We wanted a car where we could all be closer together.
So we decided to go for a sub-4-meter crossover.
The Hyundai Venue seemed like the obvious choice for us, and we were impressed with the car. However, the automatic variants at that time did not come with curtain airbags or rear wash & wipe, which were important features for us.
While I liked the interior and the dark editions of the Nexon, I wasn’t particularly fond of the rear design (no offense). However, the main problem for me was the AMT, which ultimately made it a deal breaker.
The AMT transmission, along with the limited boot space, was a deal breaker for me. Also, I found the pricing to be high considering it’s an AMT.
We kept the Venue as our backup option and continued our search. Kia launched the Sonet around that time. After watching a few video reviews, we weren’t entirely convinced about the Sonet. It could be the specific color (I saw the gold one), certain design elements, or even the camera angles that didn’t quite appeal to us. However, due to my friend’s insistence and the availability of all the features we desired in the top variant, we decided to see the car in person and take it for a test drive.
My friend and I visited the dealership and took a test drive, and I must say, I was truly impressed with the driving experience and the overall feel I got from the cabin. Additionally, we saw a black-colored Sonet at the dealership, and I instantly fell in love with it. The design elements that felt odd in the videos didn’t seem that way anymore. I’m still unsure if it’s because of the overall experience or simply the color that made a difference. I requested another test drive from the dealership, this time asking them to bring the car to our home. I wanted the entire family to have a chance to check it out and test its ride comfort
Booking & Delivery
The booking process was straightforward. I transferred the booking amount to their bank account and received the confirmation document over email. The sales advisor told me that we would get the car in two months, but it was 12-13 weeks in the booking document. There was an option to track the order on Kia’s website but that wasn’t working. I kept following up with the SA and finally, the car arrived at the dealership on the 12th week.
The SA shared the list of accessories once the car arrived at the dealership. I selected some basic accessories like carpet mats, a boot mat, splash guards, sill guards, a tissue box, a dustbin, and door edge guards. However, apart from the mats and splash guards, the quality of the other accessories was subpar. The dustbin broke, the glue on the tissue box came off, and the labeling on the sill guards faded away within six months. So, I won’t recommend Kia’s official accessories to anyone.
I opted for the maximum warranty coverage, considering the TGDI engine and the DCT. However, there was a mistake during the selection process. I requested a 5-year limited kilometers package, but they accidentally selected the unlimited one. If Kia introduces a 7-year warranty similar to what Hyundai offers, I would definitely consider opting for it.
A few photos
About the car
The turbo petrol engine is so much fun, and the DCT transmission shifts fast and smoothly. I really love the quick acceleration. I don’t think I would ever choose a naturally aspirated engine again. The car is quick and responsive, making it effortless to overtake, especially on the narrow single-lane roads of Kerala. I never felt the need for paddle shifters because the transmission shifts quicker, and I can always downshift with kick-down. The kick-down response time is also impressive.
Driving below the turbo range can be challenging. The 1.0 engine without the turbo lacks the necessary torque to climb steep grades with ease. The car is powerful when the turbo kicks in, but then it can be difficult to maneuver on narrow uphill roads, especially when there are turns involved. This is something I will keep in mind when I decide to upgrade in the future.
The transmission tends to hold D2 as long as possible, even with no throttle input, and when moving at speeds as low as 5-7 kmph. There have been instances where I had to wait for a moment before it shifted down to first gear, especially when approaching the steep road leading to our home.
The different drive modes really change how the car behaves. I’ve tried the Eco and Sport modes to see what they do. The Eco mode feels slow and not very responsive, so I don’t use it. The Sport mode, on the other hand, is exciting. The throttle input is sharper, the car is more responsive, and it holds the gears for longer. It’s like, on normal mode it shifts around 2k rpm, but on sport mode, it shifts between 3-4k rpm.
I find the handling of the car to be decent. It gives me the confidence to navigate corners without feeling like I’ll lose control. The car stays stable on highways, even over expansion joints or rumble strips without needing to slow down significantly. The braking performance is also decent, it gives me a sense of control and confidence, regardless of the speed.
The fuel economy of the car highly depends on how one drives and it’s very sensitive. Maintaining a consistent speed of 80-90 kmph yields the best fuel efficiency. However, I find this speed range to be quite boring on a highway, and I typically achieve around 14-15 kmpl on highways. I have very less usage in the city, but I often see 8-9 kmpl in Bangalore city. My overall average fuel economy is around 11-12 kmpl.
About the DCT
This is something I extensively researched before making my decision. So far, my experience with the DCT has been good, and I haven’t encountered any transmission overheating issues. I do follow the best practices for a DCT transmission, and I’ve used the car in various conditions, including long periods of bumper-to-bumper traffic, hilly areas with traffic, and my usual routes often include narrow steep grades with sharp turns, where one would typically engage the clutch more frequently. I always shift to N at the traffic signals or when stopping, as recommended, to avoid unwanted pressure on the transmission. I wish Kia had included the transmission temperature gauge, as it would have allowed me to monitor and better understand the transmission.
The car is very comfortable, and none of us feel overly tired even after a 600 km drive. We often go on long 12-hour drives from Bangalore to Kerala. Our daughter sits in a child seat in the rear, and she remains comfortable throughout the journey. When we are in Kerala, our parents use the rear seats, and they find it comfortable as well. Both my wife and I find the car very comfortable as we prefer a harder suspension over a floating/soft one. That said, the car is quite bumpy on rough roads. About the seats, they are good, but the thigh support could have been better.
The car’s air conditioner is really powerful and can cool down the interior in no time. And, I absolutely love the ventilated seats and can’t recommend them enough. The rear A/C vents are decent, but not great.
We all enjoy having the sunroof in our car. While some people may argue that sunroofs are not ideal for India, we love the airy atmosphere it creates. We don’t allow anyone to stick their heads out of the sunroof, and we rarely open it fully. However, it’s pleasant to remove the blinds and enjoy the open view while driving in the evening, early mornings, or during rain showers. The tilt mode is also helpful to circulate fresh air quietly.
The wireless charging feature is quite useful. It helps to keep the cabin tidy without any messy wires and is very convenient. Also, there’s a reminder when you exit the car to ensure that you don’t forget to take your device.
I really like the built-in air purifier with perfume diffuser, mainly because it helps avoid adding another item to the cabin clutter. We prefer to have a neutral scent in the car, and the mild perfume provided is perfect for us. However, finding replacement cartridges can be a bit challenging. I finally managed to get the cartridge last week after trying to find one for an entire year.
The voice recognition feature is the worst I’ve ever used. It records your voice and sends it to a server for processing and fails most of the time. The ambient lighting in the car isn’t very effective, maybe due to its placement. Our daughter would have enjoyed it but she can’t really see that from the rear.
The dynamic volume feature is nice, but I think it has a glitch. Instead of adjusting the volume level, it increases the sound as you gain speed while keeping the volume level the same. That is, if the volume is set at level 2, it will get louder as you speed up while the volume remains on level 2. Then, if you want to lower the volume slightly, you need to slow down the car. It would have been better if it changed the volume level instead.
The connected car experience is worth it, and I’ll be renewing the subscription. There have been instances where it fails to communicate with the car. I think that happens when there is a network issue or when the car has been inactive for a few days. One thing I frequently use is the remote start. It allows me to cool down the car before getting in when it’s parked under the sun. As someone who enjoys tracking and analyzing data, I find it interesting to review the trip history, average speed, distance covered, etc. The ability to check the car’s lock status through the app is very helpful for me, as I often have doubts about whether I locked the car or not. The app also allows sending a destination from the phone to the car, and I use that as well. Then there’s the alerts feature, but I haven’t used it and probably will never use it.
Kia recently introduced the home-to-car feature, allowing users to control the car from home. It works well with Alexa, but haven’t tried it with google assistant yet. While I may not personally use this feature, I am curious to see it in action. However, I have reservations regarding the security and privacy of the connected car feature. I am uncertain about its level of security.
The output from the TPMS and the fuel economy displayed on the MID are very close to being accurate and provide reliable information. One important thing to note is that once a TPMS warning is triggered, you will need to fill up the tyres to at least 35 PSI or higher to reset the warning. I have also experienced a glitch with the “distance to empty” feature once when I forgot to turn off the car before filling the fuel, causing it to not update.
Continue reading BHPian robincsamuel’s review of his Sonet GTX DCT for more insights and information.