I’ve found my perfect city car. Yes, it’s the Sonet and I’ve come to this conclusion after many mind-numbing hours spent in traffic. My office commute is a total of 72 kilometres, and for those familiar with Mumbai, it runs from the Dahisar toll naka to Byculla, thus spanning pretty much the entire length of the city.
So why has the Sonet so endeared itself to me? For starters, it’s the diesel engine. It has consistently returned between 12 and 13kpl through all the traffic, and with skyrocketing fuel prices, this is definitely welcome. Plus, it’s really punchy and gunning for gaps is easy. Then there’s the automatic gearbox – a torque converter that’s really smooth with its shifts and pretty much in tune with whatever you ask of it in changing traffic conditions.
NO PHONEY BUSINESS: The wireless charging phone tray easily fits a plugged in phone too.
Another element you want in a congested city is a small footprint. The Sonet is a tad wider than some rivals, but on the whole its compact SUV dimensions are easy to manage in the city. That, along with a steering that’s light and feels quite fluid, adds more points to the city-friendly score card.
BLACK OUT: Only the driver window switch is lit, for all others you have to feel around.
The Sonet is also extremely well equipped, and yes, equipment has a role to play in traffic. A nice big screen throws up Google Maps (and the endless red traffic lines) nice and clearly, it’s responsive to touch and you can quite easily scroll around while looking in vain for a better route. The Bose sound system sounds really good and will keep you entertained while the minutes tick by. Pick a nice playlist, settle back in the cooled seats and you’ll have a much less stressful drive home.
COOL COMFORT: Cooled seats can be a bit intense, but very welcome on a hot day.
At this point you’re probably thinking: wouldn’t a well-equipped diesel automatic hatch also be ideal in the city? Yes, it would, but Mumbai in particular throws another spanner in the works, and that’s its roads. Potholes, broken surfaces, loose paver blocks, and now with the monsoons, flooded streets as well – they all add another challenge for the city car. And this is where the higher ride height and broader tyres of the Sonet make a difference. You have a few more inches to rely on when wading through waterlogged areas and the broad tyres manage to ride over many of the smaller nicks and cuts in the road. The suspension isn’t plush, for sure, and shaper bumps do come through, but you never feel like they’re wrecking your car and so you can drive through with little worry.
LITTLE BLACK BOX: Central storage box is very small and not much fits inside.
So, as I said, in the Sonet I’ve found my perfect city car. Of course, it impressed me over a few trips outside the city too, but for that I have other options. As for the city streets, it’s the Sonet all the way.