CHANDAN B MALLIK, Kolkata: The ongoing coronavirus pandemic may have suspended manufacturing operations of many automakers around the globe and in India, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking ahead.
South Korea’s Kia Motors has witnessed unprecedented success with its first offering, the Seltos SUV which was designed and built exclusively for Indian conditions and market requirements. So much so, between August 2019 and February 2020 the company reported that it sold 60,494 units of the Seltos.
Realising that it cannot depend on the success of just one product, the brand launched its luxury peoples’ carrier — the Carnival MPV — weeks before the coronavirus outbreak as its second offering.
But the bigger news is that there’s a third product under development specifically for India and that’s going to be a compact CUV based on the Sonet Concept that was showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo.
As Kia has access to the parts bin of Hyundai, the mechanical aspects of the upcoming CUV is more or less established. As a crossover, it will use the Hyundai Venue platform which itself is derived from the Accent sedan. Similar to the Venue, which is a sub 4m SUV, the dimensions of the Sonet will be close to that of its sibling. Dynamically, it will also be dialled in with unique characteristics as it has always been between the two brands despite sharing mechanical components.
Apart from its sharper styling and characteristic tiger-nose grille (a Peter Shreyer favourite), the Sonet Concept car sported flush fit door handles similar to the Range Rover Velar. As of now, there’s no word whether the production version will come with them or be replaced with conventional door handles.
But, from the concept car we can get an idea of what features could make it to the production model — upfront the slim headlights with integrated LEDs, horizontally connected LED taillamps sporting the Kia logo — besides some stuff from the Seltos like its 0.25-inch infotainment display and a Bose sound system and connectivity feature pack.
The powertrain package is expected to be similar to that of the Venue which gets 83hp/115Nm of torque from its 1.2-litre 4-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine mated to 5-speed manual transmission and 120hp/172 Nm of torque producing 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged GDI petrol engine. The forced-fed petrol gets an option of 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a 6-speed manual. The Venue also receives upgraded to 1.5-litre 100hp/240 Nm of torque BS VI compliant diesel engine this month. So, there’s no much worrying about the choice of powertrain options for the Sonet.
Sonet all-set to make its world-debut by mid-2020 in the compact SUV segment and will go up against the likes of sibling Hyundai Venue, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport and Mahindra XUV 300. Going by Kia’s pricing strategy for the Seltos, market expect the Sonet to be keenly priced at around Rs 7 lakh.