2021 Kia Sonet Review: Rhyme and Reason

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - Appearance Front View

Spot-on styling, plenty of utility and features, and a good drive make Kia’s new compact SUV an excellent compact car choice in Singapore

Watch the Sonet in the flesh, or metal, rather as Derryn goes on an in-depth review

SINGAPORE – Is an affordable, stylish, useful, feature-packed car not an oxymoron in the age of higher COE prices? Kia’s new compact SUV, the Sonet, has a name that conjures airy flights of fancy, but in truth it’s a solid, reasonable car that offers great bang for the buck. 

What is the Sonet, though? It’s a compact SUV that Kia launched in late December 2021 – our news has a round-up of the what, where, how, and how much.

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - Appearance Front View

The SUV-ification of the motoring world is in full swing – along with electrification –  and  every mainstream brand packs at least one SUV in its lineup. Kia now has a whopping five of them: big seven-seat Sorento, hybrid small SUV Niro, petrol small SUV Seltos, compact SUV/crossover Stonic, and now the Sonet.

By now you’re thoroughly confused and seeing double – doesn’t Kia already have a compact, affordable SUV in the Stonic ? 

Design and Appearance

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - Appearance Front View

At CarBuyer we use the terms ‘crossover’ and ‘SUV’ interchangeably, but elsewhere the terms can also be interpreted to mean that the former is less boxy or ruggedly-styled car than a ‘proper’ SUV. For instance, a Suzuki Vitara is a crossover, but a Suzuki Jimny is definitely an SUV. 

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - vs Kia Stonic
Sonet on the left, Stonic on the right

That’s the line Kia takes at least, and the styling and shape of the Sonet is a big contrast to the Stonic especially in person. The Sonet is significantly taller than its brother, at 1,643mm versus 1,485mm, and the not-a-crossover-chunky styling sets it apart immediately. 

The easiest way to sum up to Sonet is to call it a mini-Seltos. It goes big on the rough-n-tough tropes: It’s taller and boxier, has a huge grille and bash plate, all of which give an impression of size. 

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - Appearance Rear View

It’s not just about quantity though, as the Sonet does have some sophisticated touches when it comes to styling: prominent LED lights mounted high, emphasised by muscular styling-lines on the bonnet. This might be in the budget segment, but perhaps most important of all for an SUV, it doesn’t look it. 

Interior and Features

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review - Interior Cockpit

The mini-Seltos analogy continues here:  The first thing that greets you is a nice, leather-covered steering wheel with full remote controls, and a speedo/infotainment screen section in black gloss plastic. Even the seats have a sporty touch with red stitching and bolstered cushion segments. 

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review infotainment screen

The 8.0-inch infotainment system is a stand-out because it feels like a large car’s system wrought small, and not just a ‘we bunged it in here cos there was budget left over’ type deal. The screen is clear and easy to operate, and most impressively it has wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rare find in the compact car segment. 

There’s only one trim level here, SX, which in Kia terminology (like the Cerato and Seltos) means you get all the trimmings including a wireless device charger, aircon front seats, a sunroof, keyless entry/start and more, all of which are a boon in the day-to-day. 

But there’s always a price to pay – which is why bean counters exist. If you do look closely, there are signs of cost cutting: The rear bench doesn’t split fold, and when you do fold it a ‘step’ remains between the seats and boot floor so it’s not completely flat. There are also lots of hard plastics in the cabin, though these are mostly patterned cleverly to hide their scratchy-feeling nature. 

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review door handles

But on the whole, these are minor issues, and don’t detract majorly from the living experience. Kia wisely chose to spend money where you interact with the car most and that pays off with an outsized experience for the compact segment. 

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Space and Practicality 

Unlike some compact cars where you run out knick-knack space, the Sonet’s cockpit has lots of room including an armrest compartment, two drink holders, and a small stowage area under the smartphone charger.

While both the Stonic and Sonet are cars in the compact class, measuring just over four-metres long (Sonet 4,120mm, Stonic 4,140mm), the Sonet actually has a shorter wheelbase than the Stonic, 2,580mm versus 2,500mm. There isn’t much legroom in the back, and it’s a compact car so three adults is a squeeze. But the headroom is much better than the Stonic’s, and tall people should have no trouble with  the Sonet. 

2022 Kia Sonet Singapore Review boot space

The boot is a good size for a compact car: 392-litres, compared to 340-ish for the Stonic, and sub-300-litres for most compact hatchbacks. As mentioned, the seats don’t fold in line with the boot floor, which is a minor irritation. 

Page 2: But does it really have space inside, and does it drive like a cheap car? And the Sonet’s soon to arrive ‘killer app’

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong