REVIEW | Kia's stylish compact Sonet has the ingredients to ruffle rivals' feathers

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The Kia Sonet is priced from R269 995.

Some of its rivals include Ford EcoSport, Toyota Urban Cruiser and VW T-Cross.

The Sonet is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering 85kW and 144Nm.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24

Can you remember the original, international second generation Kia Sportage, which hit our shores 20 years ago? It effectively launched the brand locally.

A few months ago, Kia launched its entry-level crossover into our market and updated the base LX version just this month. The Sonet is their baby crossover but is one of the B-SUV segment's largest and most spacious vehicles. As always with Kia, it comes well equipped and everything works. The exterior styling is pleasing and makes the Sonet appear bigger than it is.

It follows the normal style cues under the direction of Peter Schreyer; you know the guy who penned the Audi TT, including the tiger grille and pleasing, neutral lines. It is a good-looking car.

Inside it is difficult to fault. The most likely touchpoints or surfaces are softish, the steering wheel is quite chunky and has the buttons you would expect, the ambience is pleasant and fit, and the finish is good. There are loads of nooks and crannies to keep stuff in, including a shelf for your cellphone, bottle holder in the door.

2021 Kia Sonet
2021 Kia Sonet

What is on offer?

There is an effective 8.0-inch HD touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard features include a large boot of 392 litres, remote central locking, air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows and mirrors, six speakers, combination cloth and leatherette seats, and automatic headlights - the whole shebang.

Power comes from the 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine delivering 85kW at 6 300r/min and 144Nm of torque at 4 500r/min. I got an average of 8.1-litres/100km, mainly in town driving the manual version. Expect around 7.0-litres/100km in general long term driving. There is a choice between a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Sonet has the required safety kit of a modern car.

Do you think the Sonet has what it takes to oust some of the rivals in its segment? Email us or share your thoughts in the comments section below.

2021 Kia Sonet
2021 Kia Sonet

I always thought of Kia as the more sporty Korean brand. In the case of the Sonet, it simply cannot be described as sporty or performance orientated. The Sonet is a crossover styled high riding hatchback geared for the mom's taxi and commuting role, which I think will do well. That does not mean you can't go camping or for a weekend with your family, but you will have to plan overtakes if fully laden, especially on the Highveld, and one should not venture far off the beaten track.

READ: Kia's popular Sonet range bolstered by new entry-level LX grade model in SA

In summary, the Kia Sonet is practical, well equipped and spacious for its niche, the compact crossover, but not particularly exciting to drive, although good value for money.

2021 Kia Sonet
2021 Kia Sonet


• 1.5 LX Manual - R269 995

• 1.5 LX CVT - R290 995

• 1.5 EX Manual - R289 995

• 1.5 EX CVT - R310 995

For that, you get an unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty (inclusive of Roadside Assistance), as well as a prepaid four-year or 60 000km service plan.

The competition is huge. The biggest seller in this niche is the Ford EcoSport, followed by the Toyota Urban Cruiser and Suzuki Brezza. Hot on their heels is the VW T-Cross, newly launched Nissan Magnite, Honda WR-V, Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300, Renault Captur and Duster.

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