Kia Sonet sales in India cross 300,000, exports exceed 86,000 units

Kia India’s first compact SUV registers new sales milestone 42 months after launch. It is the company’s second best-selling product after the Seltos, having contributed 36% to Kia's total India dispatches since FY2021. And in the current fiscal year, it is the most exported Kia model with 30,495 units.

By Ajit Dalvi calendar 23 Mar 2024 Views icon4341 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Kia Sonet sales in India cross 300,000, exports exceed 86,000 units

The Sonet, Kia India’s first compact SUV, has driven past 300,000-unit sales in the domestic market. Launched in September 2020, the Sonet has taken 42 months or three-and-a-half years to achieve the milestone.

As per SIAM passenger vehicle industry data, from launch through to end-February 2024, the Sonet has registered total India-market wholesales of 304,311 units. Combined with exports of 86,780 units, the Sonet has chalked up cumulative sales of 391,091 units and is now just 8,909 units shy of the 400,000 mark.

Sonet drove past the 300,000 sales milestone in February 2024. It is Kia's  second best-seller after the Seltos (459,462 units) launched in August 2019.

The Sonet, along with the Seltos midsize SUV, has played a key role in Kia India’s strong ranking in the Indian utility vehicle industry – it is currently the fifth-ranked UV manufacturer in terms of sales in India.

The Sonet’s sales reflect its strong contribution to Kia India’s overall sales. Between FY2021 and FY2024 (end-February 2024), the Korean carmaker has sold a total of 835,936 units, which means the Sonet has contributed 36.40%, after the Seltos midsize SUV’s 50% share (459,462 units out of total 920,840 Kia SUVs sold since August 2019). The Carnival MPV, with 141,436 units, is the third highest-selling model. 

What is creditable about the Sonet is that despite being launched when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak  in India, it went on to cross the 100,000-unit sales milestone on September 14, 2021, 261 days or less than a year after its launch. The 150,000-unit sales milestone came up in June 2022. The 250,000-units mark came up in May 2023, 33 months since launch. The run from 250,000 to 300,000 units took nine months.

Kia India launched the new Sonet in mid-January 2024. L-R: The three trim levels are Tech Line, GT Line and X-Line. 

New Sonet ups the ante in a crowded segment
The Sonet is part of the highly competitive compact SUV segment which includes the Tata Nexon, Tata Punch, Hyundai Venue, Hyundai Exter Mahindra XUV300, Maruti Brezza, Maruti Fronx, Nissan Magnite and the Renault Kiger.

In mid-January 2024, Kia India launched the updated, facelifted and tech-laden Sonet at Rs 799,000 (ex-showroom) which sports some cosmetic changes and additional features. There are all of 19 variants available – nine petrol and 10 diesel – with on-road Delhi prices starting from the base 1.2 HTE petrol at Rs 909,000 through to the 1.5CRDi X-Line AT which has a sticker price of Rs 18.71 lakh.

The new Sonet gets refreshed upholstery, and more features including a larger infotainment screen and connectivity options. 

High-on-connectivity, equipped with ADAS
The refreshed SUV gets exterior changes such as connected LED tail-lamps, reworked front and rear bumpers, restyled all-LED headlamps and fog lamps, as well as newly-styled 16-inch wheels. On the inside, the new Sonet gets refreshed upholstery, and more features including a larger infotainment screen and a fully-digital 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. The car is replete with modern-day connectivity options, including remote engine start and geofencing, bundled with the Kia Connect suite. The infotainment system offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity functionalities, along with a highly fluid user experience.

One of the key highlights of the updated Sonet is the inclusion of 10 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or Level-1 ADAS features such as lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, and driver attention warning. The Sonet continues to have three engine options – 1.2-litre, 83hp naturally-aspirated petrol, 1.0-litre, 120hp turbo-charged petrol, and a 1.5-litre, 116hp turbocharged diesel engine. There are three transmission options – MT, AT, and clutchless manual transmission or iMT – in different combinations depending upon the powertrain.

Driving impression
Driving the 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine, mated with the six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, gave ample impressions about the new Sonet's potential with its unique drivetrain combination. The 1.5-litre mill offers smooth power delivery and robust fuel efficiency, therefore emerging as the right choice for high-mileage users. The compact SUV offers a well-balanced ride-and-handling setup, with the suspension tuned towards the sportier side, and inspiring confidence around high-speed corners.

The Sonet diesel has three driving modes – Normal, Eco, and Sport – with the latter immediately sharpening throttle response and prompting the six-speed automatic transmission to hold gears till higher engine revolutions for brisk acceleration. The Normal mode, on the other hand, is suitable to carry out day-to-day duties, while also aiding fuel efficiency.

Compared to its main rivals – the Maruti Suzuki Brezza and sibling Hyundai Venue – which still lack such a powertrain combination, the diesel-automatic is Kia's trump card in the Sonet, and should draw buyers looking at the practicality, and higher fuel efficiency of a diesel, notwithstanding the market's shift towards petrol offerings. 

Sonet is Kia India's best-selling export model in FY2024
On the export front, the Sonet continues to see demand in overseas markets like the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, Mexico and the Asia Pacific region. 

Since FY2021 through to end-February 2024, Kia India has shipped 86,780 units of the compact SUV to these and the recent launch of the new Sonet should give a further fillip to exports.  

Of Kia India’s exports of 50,403 units in the first 11 months of FY24, the Sonet with 30,495 units accounts for a 60.50% share, ahead of sibling Seltos.

In fact, the 30,495 units shipped in the first 11 months of FY2024 are up 14% YoY, and have exceeded best-ever Sonet exports of 29,051 units in FY2023. What’s more, of Kia India’s total shipments of 50,403 units in the current fiscal to date (down 37% YoY – April 2022-February 2023: 79,554 units), the Sonet is currently the model with the highest export sales and accounts for 60.50%, ahead of the Seltos’ 12,386 units, down 73% on year-ago Seltos exports of 45,322 units.

The Sonet is a compelling buy. In its commentary on the compact SUV, Autocar India states that the Sonet is “the most sophisticated compact SUV of the lot. It looks stylish, has an upmarket cabin, and is packed with features that help justify its slight price premium. It also has a wide array of powertrains, including a superb diesel-auto. Space at the rear is down on rivals, which is the Sonet’s only real weakness.”

For the current fiscal year, at end-February 2024, in the Top 20 UV sales chart, the Kia Sonet with 72,634 units stands at No. 14 position. It is one of the 10 compact SUVs that populate the 20 best-selling UVs, the balance being taken up by seven midsize SUVs and three MPVs.

With the wave of demand for compact SUVs maintaining a strong pace, particularly from traffic-laden urban India, the feature-laden Sonet should continue to see its numbers grow in the coming month and year.

(Driving impression report by Mayank Dhingra)

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