Review: Kia Stonic
A great petrol engine and high equipment levels will help Kia’s latest crossover in a crowded market place, but is it able to stand out against so many rivals?
When everybody else has got a small SUV in their range, you need one too. Fashionably late to the party, Kia is joining the likes of Juke, Crossland X, 2008, 500X, Captur, ZS, C3 Aircross and Arona with the oddly named Stonic.
The Stonic is fundamentally based on the Kia Rio, a worthy but unremarkable car, which means the dimensions are almost identical - there’s the same wheelbase, a slightly longer overall length thanks to a longer rear end, but obviously there’s quite a bit of extra height.
The Stonic does all the things a mini-SUV needs to do.
An extra 42mm is added in the suspension, giving it the SUV presence, while the body is also taller taking the total to 70mm above the Rio.
However, despite the SUV styling and jacked up ride height, not to mention the acres of black plastic bolted on to make it look tough, there’s no chance of going rock-hopping in the Stonic as it remains firmly front-wheel drive only.
Style is bolstered by two-tone paintwork on the roof, depending on body colour.
It is a case of form over function, which is not necessarily a bad thing in these SUV dominated days as people demand high driving positions over the ability to cross the Atlas mountains. That style is bolstered by two-tone paintwork, with a black, orange, lime green or red roof and detailing depending on the main body colour.
There’s a rather sparse range of engine to power the Stonic for no, with a 1.6-litre diesel and a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol being the only offerings, with just two trim levels available for now - the top-spec First Edition and the entry-level 2 model.
There’ll be a 3 and 4 in time, as well as a 1.4-litre petrol engine to extend the models appeal. For now I’m in the tiny 1.0-litre model with all the toys.
With 118bhp, the little three-cylinder unit is a cracker.
The little three-cylinder unit is a cracker, developing 118bhp, which is more than enough to pull the Stonic along. Happily, unlike some other downsized engines, there’s enough torque at low revs to make urban driving easy, too.
It’s not particularly economical though - a common problem with these small engines - and you’ll be lucky to see an average of 40mpg. The diesel option is just £800 more, and may prove a more frugal option for those covering even average miles.
There’s a modicum of handling prowess thanks to relatively stiff suspension, which leads to a rather sharp turn-in and a zesty sensation on the open road that’s missing from some rivals. There’s not quite as much grip as you might expect though, with the tyres letting go earlier than anticipated.
It’s more refined than the Rio, thanks to extra soundproofing.
The firm suspension that helps provide engaging handling impacts ride quality significantly, leaving the Stonic someway behind the best in class. At low speeds every bump is transmitted into the cabin, while the car fidgets at higher speeds, never really settling down.
It’s more refined than its Rio cousin though, with extra soundproofing seemingly added that keeps engine noise and tyre roar in check.
The Stonic does all the things a mini-SUV needs to do, with enough rear space for kids and booster seats, with a decent size boot behind. That comes with a false floor, allowing for an extended storage area or a secret compartment, but there is quite a lip to lift items over.
As ever with Kia, standard equipment levels are high.
While the interior has splashes of colour on this First Edition model, it’s still a rather sombre affair. There’s a lot of hard black plastic around, while black fabric seats and black roof lining leave it all feeling a tad dark.
Still, as ever with Kia, standard equipment levels are high, with even the basic ‘2’ model coming with Bluetooth, voice recognition, automatic lights, air conditioning and smartphone connectivity, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to turn the basic system into a full infotainment centre with satellite navigation.
Stretch to the First Edition and there’s heated seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start, climate control, built-in navigation, and a host of safety equipment; there’s lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking.
While the safety kit is great to have on the First Edition, it’s a disappointing series of extras on the lower model. Kia’s seven year or 100,000-mile warranty is in place, too, while fixed price service options are available to keep owners and fleet managers happy.
It all comes together in a package that’s lower than many of its competitors too, and a gentle depreciation curve ensures lease rates are very competitive for its class.
The Stonic might not be quite the strongest car in the segment, but a combination of cost security, safety and high equipment levels make up some of the shortfall, and leaves this Kia able to stand competition against any of its rivals.
Model tested: Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi First Edition
|Monthly lease price*:||£196|
|0-62 mph:||9.9 secs|
|Top speed:||115 mph|
|Economy (combined cycle)||56.5 mpg|
|Safety rating (Euro NCAP):|| |
Three stars (without safety pack)
Five stars (with safety pack)
|Boot space (seats up/ seats down):||352 litres / 1,115|
*Calculations based on personal 6+35 10k p/a deal, correct at time of writing.