The Kia Sonet has been a great success in the crossover/suv segment since its launch in SA. Many people kept asking why the range was launched with only the 1.5l naturally aspirated motor though as it was common knowledge that a 1l turbo version is available in other markets.

A few months ago, it arrived albeit as more expensive, range topping derivatives. Although there is only a marginal increase in power from 85 to 88kW, the increase from 144 to 172Nm is far more significant. Obviously, the power delivery from the little turbo is also much more responsive.

The transmission also changes from a CVT to a 7 speed dual clutch automatic driving the front wheels. I certainly couldn't find any fault with this box and it performed faultlessly whether in urban traffic, on the open road or tackling the twisties through to Hartebeespoort.

The mode selector allows you to choose between Eco, Normal and Sport. Engaging sport definitely adds to touch of extra urge and holds the ratios a bit longer. The terrain select offers sand, mud or snow although I never used this during the test.

Fuel economy in a small turbo is always an interesting question. If you putter along on a freeway, you can achieve under 6l/100km, but, if you enjoy the extra power and response of the turbo you are more likely to average around 7l/100km. A choice only you can make.

Our test car was the top model EX+ which means that it has a lot of extra spec such as leather trim, 2 tone with black roof, wireless connection for Android Auto (although it did seem to drop the connection a number of times. No fun when you are relying on navigation) and 7 airbags instead of 2 on lesser models.

There are also a few anomalies in the spec of the car. An old fashioned key for the ignition, no keyless entry or start? No 1 touch either up or down for the drivers window and the lack of any safety or monitoring like blind spot monitors or similar.

The overall looks, solid feel and performance are hard to beat in the category, it's your money and your choice in the end.

Priced at R389 995 as tested, the Sonet range starts at R296 995. A 4 year/ 60 000km service plan is standard.


Alan Rosenmeyer:        [email protected]: