For the Indian car market, the decade which went by was highlighted by small-capacity diesel engines, offered on mass-market cars. These oil burners won many hearts with their affability, delivered unheard-of fuel economy, and once their turbochargers were spooled-up, they dished out exciting performance too! With the introduction of BS6 norms in India, tailpipe emissions had to reduce drastically. As a result, a lot of car manufacturers decided to take the petrol-only route, as the cost to upgrade a small-capacity diesel engine which conformed to the new norms while powering a budget car, was apparently too much.
However, at the same time, some like Kia Motors India decided to swim against the tide and launched operations by offering a BS6-compliant diesel engine with the Seltos, a year before the new norms had to be complied to. With the Sonet, the carmaker continues to address the needs of those who now swear by the frugal, yet, punchy and long-legged performance characteristics of a diesel engine, in another segment.
With the Kia Sonet, the company not only offers a refined and efficient oil burner but has also paired it with two transmission choices – a 6-speed manual for those who like to row the boat themselves, and a segment-first 6-speed torque converter automatic, where the latter offers the polished convenience of a proper automatic gearbox, compared to the head nod-inducing AMTs which are offered on all of the Sonet’s competitors.
What makes a modern diesel engine so desirable in comparison to a petrol motor though? The fact that the former generates more torque at a lower spinning speed of the engine translates into momentum which can be maintained effortlessly by the driver. Which means fewer gear shifts, and since the engine is working in its ideal power band at most times, a mere dab on the accelerator is enough to gain more velocity.
Compare this to most petrol engines, which develop less torque in comparison, and where the motor develops its peak power at a higher spinning speed. This means that to maintain the same speed, a petrol engine has to be revved higher and its gearbox must remain in the right gear, compared to a diesel engine in the same zip code. Goes without saying, a harder working engine not only sips more fuel, but it also keeps the driver busy, even when the person is not in the mood for an engaging drive. This busy behaviour also affects how passengers inside the cabin feel during the journey when the distance that must be covered is long.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine which powers the Kia Sonet is offered in two states of tunes, where it cranks out 100 PS and 240 Nm of torque when it’s paired with a manual transmission and 115 PS and 250 Nm of twisting force when mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. In both states, this engine scores high on refinement, throttle response and driveability. Although equipped with a turbocharger, it has been tuned to deliver near lag-free performance. Also, it is paired with a gearbox which has ideal ratios which help in tapping the engine’s reserves without much effort or waiting for the driver, whether it’s in urban driving conditions or on the open road.
According to preference, one may choose to pick the manual gearbox-equipped version which offers more control to the driver or the automatic gearbox-equipped variant which allows one to navigate through the everyday urban chaos effortlessly. No matter which choice you make between the two though, the fast, yet, relaxed brilliance of a diesel engine can always be appreciated once you choose to cruise.
And while you are at it, the Sonet’s diesel engine will put another smile on your face once you realise the distance you can cover on a single tank of fuel which is still roughly INR 10 cheaper than petrol in most parts of the country. As a matter of fact, the Kia Sonet diesel is rated for 24.1 kmpl for the manual gearbox version while the automatic variant is rated for 19 kmpl by ARAI. Which makes it the most fuel-efficient diesel-powered vehicle in its class. As this engine complies with the new emission norms, you won’t carry any guilt about harming the environment either.