Given the success of the Korean duo in the Indian market – I’m referring to the Hyundai-Kia colossus – there is no doubt that the threat to Maruti Suzuki’s share in the Indian market will not be Japanese or European, but Korean. While Hyundai has been operating successfully in India for over two decades, Kia Motors’ entry into the Indian market, and its immediate success, must have become a cause of sleepless nights for many automakers.
The reason for Kia’s success, though, is not too difficult to see. Kia has smartly used the strategy of targeting high-volume segments, such as compact and mid-sized SUVs while avoiding the familiar trap of trying to beat Maruti at its own game of producing affordable hatchbacks. As we’ve seen in the past, with virtually every other carmaker – with the exception of Hyundai – trying to outdo Maruti Suzuki at the hatchback game is like committing hara-kiri.
So, Kia Motors is targeting segments in which customers are not too fixated on the idea of brand loyalty and are willing to look at newer options. The Seltos has, of course, been a runaway hit, and the Sonet seems to be following suit. Competing in the compact SUV segment, the Sonet offers a combination of aggressive design, terrific quality, and a plethora of variants for customers to choose from.
In our test, the Sonet scored highly in many categories, including quality – the Sonet is easily class-leading here – and X-Factor. With its strong design, the Sonet grabs a lot of attention, which is one of the reasons for its success. Interestingly, the launch timing of the Sonet has also helped it tremendously – as all the other products in the segment have now been on the market unchanged for over a year-and-a-half, giving the Sonet the advantage of being the only fresh product in the segment.
Another great aspect is that it’s brilliant to drive and behaves well not only on the road but also on the track when you push it to the limit. The suspension setup, high-speed stability, and refinement are all its strong suits. However, it did lose some points in the value-for-money category, as the absolute top-of-the-line versions of the Sonet are priced a bit steep.
But, all things considered, the Sonet is a worthy product, which thoroughly deserves a ‘Best of 2020’ honour. Also, its immediate sales success reflects how appealing Indian customers have found this compact SUV.