At the end of last month, as the ever-long 2020 came to an end, Santosh Nair took our Kia Sonet on his yearly trip to the city of Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. This gave the long-termer a much-needed stretch of legs and an opportunity for us to gauge its highway manners. So, in this report, we’ll talk about how the Sonet Diesel performed on its 2,000km excursion, what was impressive about it, and the things that weren’t much.
Things We Like
Let’s give you the details of the journey first. From Navi Mumbai to Sagar, the Sonet went through Nashik, Indore, and Bhopal covering mostly National Highways, including some patched up sections along the way. And it was the same on the way back, under good weather conditions making it an overall pleasant drive.
What Santosh had to say at the end of the trip was – ‘the engine is actually a gem’. Not only there’s a strong supply of torque in mid-range, but this oil burner remains smooth even when approaching the rev limit. This, in the real world, means that the engine doesn’t feel strained when you are cruising at highway speeds or dial down for some quick overtakes. And the motor is so smooth, you won’t even realise you are wending in a lower gear most of the time.
Another upside is that despite five people on board – along with a boot full of their luggage – there’s no drop in performance of this pretty-strong diesel motor. Santosh says, despite the load, the compact Sonet kept up with the larger/upper segment SUVs. That’s not all, with close to 1,000kilometre on the road unremittingly, there was no drop in performance neither did the brakes show any sign of fading or lack of bite.
And we have already seen in our city run that this is a frugal motor. On the highway jaunt, the MID constantly showed 19kmpl. This is considerably admirable, given that the Sonet was fully loaded and traversing on not some of the best roads we have, with frequent overtaking of slow-moving trucks.
Lastly, with good ergonomics and pleasant cabin space, I am pretty sure Santosh wasn’t half as tired after his 1,000kilometre drive as he’d have expected. And all of this while taking into account Sonet’s cooled and supportive seats, light controls, easy to reach buttons on the centre console, and good visibility. Add to it the sense of practicality with enough storage space all around the cabin for everything like sunglasses, wallet and toll change, pack of cigarettes, toll receipts, masks, sanitisers, charging equipment, cups, water bottles, and much more.
Things We Didn’t Like
One thing we had noticed before and was further exemplified by Santosh’s trip was the rear suspension travel. When under full load, the rear suspension tends to bottom out, meaning it lowers down considerably leaving no space for the absorption of bad roads or nasty speed breakers. So, it hops prominently even when going over medium-sized bumps, expansion joints on bridges, or undulations at highway speeds.
Secondly, the space in the second row isn’t best suited for three adults on longer hauls. You can fit in three kids or two kids with one adult here, but anything more than that would be best suited for small trips and not a cross-state trip.
Now that the Kia Sonet has completed close to three months with us, it would soon go back. But before that, we could try and take it for some more spins in and around the city. And see whether there are any more surprises for us under the skin of this baby Kia.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi