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2021 Kia Sonet debuts but its arrival in North America is uncertain

Up front, the Kia Sonet has Seltos-like looks.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sonet is the company's answer to the Hyundai Venue. It's a subcompact crossover that would slot below the Kia Seltos in Kia's North American lineup. That is, if it ever makes it here.

The Sonet is made in India and will be sold globally - the same as the Ford EcoSport. It's a completely new model for Kia, having been jointly designed in partnership by Kia Motors India and Kia's global R&D headquarters in South Korea.

The urban crossover incorporates Kia's signature tiger nose grille along with design lines reminiscent of its Seltos stablemate. Its LED daytime running lights and taillights are shaped like the electric pulse of a heart. At the back, the Sonet is rounder than the Seltos and there's a diffuser and skid plate.

2021 Kia Sonet The back of the Sonet features wraparound rear glass.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Buyers can get the Sonet in their choice of up to eight monotone and three dual-tone exterior colors.

Like with other models in the company's lineup, Kia intends to offer the Sonet in a sportier GT-Line trim level. These models have red accents in the cabin and a D-shaped steering wheel.

Kia is selling the Sonet with they buyer's choice of three engines: a 1.2-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder, and a 1.5-liter. The first two are gasoline engines and the other is a diesel power plant. Five manual and automatic transmission options are available. Kia offers a variety of drive and traction modes in automatic versions of the model. Remote start/stop technology is available no matter the powertrain or transmission.

One of the first clues that this model might not be destined for America lies here. The strongest of the three engines appears to be the turbo 1.0-liter. That's a similar size to what is in the Ford EcoSport base model. There, it's generally derided as being extremely underwhelming. But, the EcoSport is a size bigger than the Sonet. In the U.S., the similarly-sized Venue has a competent 1.6-liter four-cylinder - the same engine that's in the subcompact Kia Rio car.

2021 Kia Sonet The model features an interior that that youthful design.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The cabin of the model features a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation on the center of the dashboard. It has a smart air purifier that offers virus protection, a seven-speaker Bose premium audio system, ventilated driver and front-passenger seats, LED sound mood lighting (the Kia Soul also has this), remote start, voice commands, a 4.2-inch driver information screen, over-the-air updates, and a wireless charger with cooling functionality.

Automatic headlamps, fog lamps, and parking sensors are also available. There is no mention of a rearview camera. If the Sonet were to be sold in the U.S., a rearview camera would need to be installed as per a regulation that went into effect in 2018.

It also has "plenty" of leg-, head-, and shoulder room according to Kia, as well as a large trunk. Ventilated front seats are available - a first in the segment. There is no provision for heated seats - something that's generally a staple of North American model offerings.

Pricing for the model will vary by market. It is rolling out in India soon and will be available in global markets following that launch.

There is room below the Soul and Seltos at the bottom of the Kia lineup, but the competition is getting stiffer by the day as the market retracts. Even the Venue, which is heralded for its spaciousness, comfort, and grocery getting capability only moves around 1,600 models per month. That's about as many as the Hyundai Accent, more than the Kia Niro, but less than the Rio. Kia sold over 41,000 Soul and 18,000 Seltos models from January to July this year.

Will the Sonet come to the U.S.? Only Kia knows for sure and only time will tell.

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The 2021 Kia Sorento is towing the numerals for the 2020 Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop ceremony across the country.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The journey is underway. As many Americans are eager to close out 2020, Kia is working to make the end of the year happen in style. A 2021 Kia Sorento is hauling the iconic numerals for the One Times Square ball drop ceremony across the country with planned stops in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

"New Year's Eve is typically seen as a fresh start and a new beginning, and that holds true this year more than ever. With its rugged capability, the Kia Sorento will bring a little piece of the energy and fun of New Year's Eve in Times Square to people nationwide. This will also be a reminder that we're all in this together and that the New Year brings new opportunities and excitement," said Russell Wager, director, marketing operations, Kia Motors America.

2007 New Year's Eve Ball Drop Numerals Workers unload the giant '7' completing the "2-0-0-7" sign for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square December 13, 2006 in New York City.Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The fourth-generation Sorento started its journey at Kia's North American headquarters in Irvine, California. Its journey will end in Times Square, the New Year's Eve heart of New York City, where the SUV and its cargo will be on display for three days along with other vehicles, before being installed on the top of One Times Square awaiting the iconic ball drop ceremony.

Kia lists the vehicle as being able to tow up to 3,500 pounds in the SX Prestige X-Line trim when equipped with the available factory-installed tow hitch, a $475 add-on.

At select points along the way, National Geographic will document the Sorento's journey, bringing stories from its stops to life through photography and video.

The publicity stunt culminates in the launch of a new creative campaign for the 2021 Sorento, which will debut during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021" on ABC. During the broadcast, you may see some Kia employees in the Times Square. They are there courtesy of the company, who will be hosting them at the event.

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BMW is adding new racing experiences to the roster at is Performance Center West.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW Performance Center Driving Schools have added to their curriculum offerings with the BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience, the M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data and Video Session, and the Race Licensing School. All courses are offered at their driving school in Thermal, California.

BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This full day program carries a $2,795 price tag and includes driving various BMW M cars and the M4 GT4 race car. Attendees start their day with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique then they receive an overview of the car and are outfitted with a racing suit and helmet. Next, they head to the Thermal Club track and get in some guided laps behind a BMW instructor, experiencing speeds up to 140 mph I the M4 GT4 race car.

The M4 GT4 model driven is the exact same as the race car driven in series around the world. It's powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces more than 430 horsepower while the rear wing, front splitter, and Continental racing tires make this car stick to the track through the corners.

Each session includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Access to professional instructors, trackside crew and support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Half Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This half-day, $4,995 program includes 125 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. Students start with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being outfitted for their M4 GT4 driving session. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.
  • The schedule is flexible. Please call 888-345-2269, and one of the BMW Performance Center driving instructors will reply to answer any questions and schedule the coaching session. Discounts are not allowed for this program

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Full Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

For $9,995, students get a full-day private program that includes 250 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. The days starts with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being fitted out for their M4 GT4. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at our BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.

Race License School: The Path to Professional

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

After you've been through BMW's Advanced M School or the Two-Day M School, BMW Performance offers a SCCA-certified school to take your skills to the next level on your way to becoming a pro driver. Students can add the one-day school to an Advanced M School or Two-Day M School session and get qualified all at once.What will be learned:

  • Learn the colors. Green. Yellow. Red - No there aren't any traffic lights on the track. But there are flags, and you'll learn what each represents while you're out there to maintain safety.
  • Passing. Don't let off. - Start off with you in a BMW, behind your instructor in theirs. They will coach you through the art of passing under both braking and acceleration. Then, we'll bring on a classmate and coach you both as you battle for first place.
  • Keep Rollin'. Practice race starts - In racing, how you start can impact how you finish, and we'll show you how to get started right in a grid set up, as well as rolling starts. Learn how to navigate with other cars on track while setting up for that first turn.

Additional information be found at https://bmwperformancecenter.com. Courses can be booked online or by calling 1-888-345-4BMW.

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