Independent review by Maxine Ashford
- Good practicality
- Technology is straightforward to use
- Comfortable ride
- Great value for money
As SUV-fever continues to strengthen its grip on the UK motoring scene, Kia has launched another cracker into the mix.
It’s called the Stonic, and it's available in a number of trims with a variety of powertrains.
The 5-door, which is front-wheel-drive only, is built on the same platform as the all-new Kia Rio, but offers extra space and practicality.
With so many compact SUVs on our roads today, it’s nice to be able to stand out from the crowd and the Stonic does just that with higher grade cars modelling snazzy two-tone colour schemes.
Design and Practicality
The Stonic looks fabulous from any angle thanks to a sporty, muscular design with sharp lines to exaggerate the car’s width.
There are short front and rear overhangs, a sporty lower intake grille, the signature ‘tiger nose’ front grille, roof rails, LED daytime running lights and lots more besides to draw attention from onlookers.
Move inside and the cabin is beautifully styled with a clutter-free but feature-rich layout.
All the controls, dials, and read-outs are perfectly positioned and easy to use.
For example, controlling the temperature means turning a dial, adjusting the air flow is also accomplished by turning a dial and altering the direction of the air con is achieved at the press of a button.
This may sound like common sense, but too many vehicles have been over-complicated and a simple operation like cooling the car means accessing a touchscreen menu, scrolling down, then trying to steady your finger as the car bounces over the bumpy road surface – all of which is a distraction from looking at the road.
Comfort levels within the cabin are first-rate, and there's ample space for tall adults to sit in the back without feeling cramped.
The boot has a 352-litre capacity, which increases to 1,115 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere, throughout the cabin, there's a decent-sized glovebox, cup holders, a drop-down sunglasses compartment, a convenient tray in front of the gear stick, along with door pockets front and back that can accommodate a water bottle.
Equipment and Technology
All models sit on 17-inch wheels, which is a relief. Some car manufactures insist on fitting over-sized wheels to demo cars and despite looking the business, it really has a detrimental effect on both the economy and performance.
They're all well-equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range.
The grade ‘2’ models have a 7-inch touchscreen, a 6-speaker sound system, DAB radio, MP3 compatibility, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, all-round electric windows, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, automatic headlights, remote locking, and electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors.
Step up to better specced models, and you'll see the likes of a touchscreen navigation and infotainment system, black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, heated front seats, a D-shaped steering wheel, LED rear lights, privacy glass, smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, automatic air conditioning, additional chrome window trim, and a dual-height luggage floor.
Safety systems are comprehensive too, with the Stonic achieving the full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Engines and Driving Experience
There's a choice of three powertrains that each have their own appeal.
The line-up starts with a 1.4-litre 98bhp petrol engine which is the cheapest model, a 1.0-litre 118bhp 3-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.6-litre 108bhp diesel option – the latter of which can deliver combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg with carbon emissions of 109g/km.
The Stonic comes with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic DSG gearbox.
I tried the 1.0-litre petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel versions, and they were completely different in every way apart from styling.
The tiny 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol model was full of fizz as it whizzed along the country lanes, firing through the gears.
This car can reach 62mph from a standing start in around 10 seconds and tops out at 115mph. It can achieve a combined fuel efficiency of 56.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Don’t be put off by the smaller engine because it has ample power and zip to fire the Stonic and makes very light work of overtaking slower moving vehicles. It’s lively, energetic, and a pure delight to drive.
Next up was the 1.6-litre diesel model. This car reaches from 62mph in 10.9 seconds and tops out at 112mph.
Once again, it's a car that will appeal to the masses. It wasn’t quite so exhilarating to drive as the little 3-cylinder, but the running costs are more impressive.
Acceleration was smooth through the six gears, and it seemed a little more sensible and composed than its petrol sibling.
The cabin on both cars was well insulated against outside noise, and the car was confident into bends with excellent road-holding and very little sign of body roll.
All in all, the Kia Stonic, complete with its amazing 7-year/100,000-mile warranty, is another very welcome contender for sales in the compact SUV sector. After a few hours behind the wheel, it's a car that's sure to sell in large numbers thanks to its comfortable ride, economical powertrains, and choice of technology.