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A year after launching its Sonet compact crossover in SA, Kia has added new models to the line-up that feature added power and more premium specification.
Until now the four-model range has been available only with a 1.5l normally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, in a choice of manual or CVT transmissions. The two newcomers are the 1.0 T-GDI EX and the more extensively appointed T-GDI EX+, both powered by a new 1.0l turbo petrol engine and paired with an automatic seven-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT).
The imported Sonet (pronounced “Sonnet”) has been a decent seller and shifted more than 3,500 units locally, but global stock shortages had prevented Kia from bringing in the turbo version, until now.
This three-cylinder engine has added voema with outputs of 88kW and 172Nm, a small power hike but a substantial leap in torque compared to the 85kW and 144Nm of the 1,500cc motor. Also, the turbocharged engine will feel much sprightlier than its normally-aspirated stablemate in the thin air of Gauteng.
Even at sea level, where the car’s launch was held, the new turbo Sonet has more spring in its step. It’s a relatively feisty performer that zips effortlessly through urban traffic, cruises without feeling strained and has reasonable overtaking pep.
It’s also refined, with little of the buzziness one might expect of a small engine, contributing to this small Kia’s overall soft-spoken nature. The two-pedalled convenience is a boon especially in heavy traffic; the DCT shifts smoothly and offers three modes: economy, normal and sport.
Frugality is part of the package and the test car averaged around 6.0l/100km.
The car has a comfortable ride on its high-profile 16-inch tyres and feels solidly built, with bumpy roads failing to cause significant jittering or rattles. It’s agile through corners too, completing an all-round pleasant-to-drive package.
For its compact size the Sonet offers good space, with sufficient room for four adults. At 390l it also has one of the segment’s largest boots and offers a full-sized spare wheel.
This practicality is paired with a smart-looking cabin and a profusion of comfort features, especially in the range-topping Sonet EX+ which has artificial leather seats with red stitching that create an appealingly premium vibe.
The EX+ further ups the ante with a digital instrument cluster, folding electric side mirrors, eletrochromatic rear-view mirror, rear LED lights, cruise control, automatic climate control and side and curtain airbags.
The cheaper EX model is still well appointed though, with standard items that include a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter, combination artificial leather and cloth seat trim, hill-start assist, automatic headlamp activation and dual front airbags.
Even in entry-level LX guise the Sonet offers dual front airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, touchscreen infotainment, aircon, rear parking camera and electric windows and mirrors. It rides on 15-inch steel wheels instead of the 16-inch alloys of the EX and EX+.
Absent from all Sonet models is a reach-adjustable steering column however; it can be adjusted only for height.
Sonet 1.5 LX Manual — R296,995
Sonet 1.5 LX CVT — R316,995
Sonet 1.5 EX CVT — R337,995
Sonet 1.0 T-GDI EX 7DCT — R359,995
Sonet 1.0 T-GDI EX+ 7DCT — R389,995
Prices include a five-year/unlimited distance warranty inclusive of roadside assistance, and a four-year/60,000km service plan.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.