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New Kia Sonet SUV is somehow even smaller than Seltos

And its size is about as small as its chances of a US debut, but never give up hope.

Cargo space looks... limited.


Markets may have taken to the three-row Kia Telluride like moths to a solitary porch light, but just as buyers are hungering for something larger, there are many markets that are on the hunt for ever-smaller utility vehicles. Kia already has the diminutive Seltos in its lineup, but a few global markets are about to get something even smaller.

Kia on Friday unveiled its new Sonet SUV. Slotting beneath the Seltos and aimed at dense urban markets, the Sonet wants to hit the ground running by offering a whole bunch of technology in this tiny shell. A concept previewing the Sonet first debuted at the Delhi Auto Expo in India earlier this year, the same country where sales will kick off later in 2020. It's also assembled at Kia's production facility in Anantapur, furthering the connection to India.

The Sonet looks like a smushed-up Seltos on the outside, borrowing some blockier features from other new Kias like the Sorento but generally retaining a unique shape, much of which is located on its extremely truncated rear end. The interior is quite the looker, with a collection of physical buttons just above the shifter but below the sole dashboard outcropping that houses both the gauge cluster and the infotainment screen.

Just because a car is small doesn't mean the automaker needs to scrimp on creature comforts.


Higher trims get contrasted stitching and fancy trimmings like ventilated front seats, wireless device charging with a cooling function, air purification and a seven-speaker Bose sound system. Speaking of infotainment, the Sonet has the largest telematics display in its class at 10.25 inches, and it's capable of over-the-air updates.

There are a few powertrain derivations on offer. A 1.2-liter four-cylinder and a 1.0-liter three-cylinder comprise the two gas engines to be had, and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder diesel is also available. In addition to the usual transmissions -- the Sonet is offered with five- and six-speed manuals, a seven-speed dual-clutch and a six-speed automatic -- this new SUV also picks up a six-speed clutchless manual transmission, which uses hydraulics to operate the clutch so all the driver has to do is shift. It's some wild technology, and it's also available on the Indian-market Hyundai Venue subcompact crossover.

Alas, despite all this neat stuff, the Kia Sonet will likely remain forbidden fruit in the US. Our desires trend a bit larger, despite the recent arrival of vehicles like the Ford EcoSportNissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue, and the ever-tinier Sonet might be a bridge too far for American expressways and the like. But never say never -- while a Kia representative told Roadshow that there are no current plans to bring the Sonet stateside, the automaker will always be up for a reevaluation if the market deems it so. 

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