Compact, competent Kia Stonic short on character
The compact crossover market is booming, and Kia hopes to cash in on this growth with the new Stonic. Simon Davis gets behind the wheel.
What is it?
The compact sport utility vehicle market is hot property, and more and more manufacturers staking their claim in the increasingly popular segment.
Kia’s new Kia Stonic combines handsome looks with funky colours, solid build quality and attractive prices.
While this is a new sector for Kia, and indeed a brand new car, we’ve seen much of the Stonic before as it shares its platform with the Rio supermini, and also features the same 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.
Buyers will find the Stonic appealing proposition with its added passenger and load space, and greater sense of security that higher-riding cars seem to bring.
Under the bonnet
The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine develops a modest 118bhp and 171Nm to give respectable performance with power sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
There’s also a 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol and a 108bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel.
How does it drive?
Like the smaller Rio, the Stonic is incredibly easy to drive. The pedals are well-weighted, and the six-speed gearbox has an assertive action. Steering provides decent feedback and makes low-speed manoeuvres a doddle – a good thing as the Stonic will likely spend most of its time in urban driving.
Handling-wise, the taller stature means there is a considerable amount of lean through bends, and the seats don’t provide much lateral support.
At cruising speeds, the Stonic is capable enough but there’s noticeable tyre roar.
How does it look?
That depends on colour. Our test model was the flagship Launch Edition model with a jazzy two-tone grey and lime green paint job. In this specification, the Stonic looked really smart, not the cheap and cheerful sort of car Kia was known for years ago.
However, with many charactful newcomers, the Stonic might stuggle to stand out. If flying under the radar is more your thing, then you’ll likely find the unpretentious exterior a strong draw.
What’s it like inside?
Cheap, scratchy plastics will stand up to the rough and tumble of family life, but don’t do any favours on the aesthetic front.
Passenger space is also limited. While there’s good headroom in the back for an average-sized adult, kneeroom is tight. Boot space is a respectable 352 litres.
Range-topping First Edition includes satellite navigation, smartphone connectivity through Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, keyless entry and heated front seats to name but a few.
There’s also a bevy of safety systems with autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist standard.
On the one hand, it’s a competent, easy-to-drive compact crossover that will be able to handle the demands of the average urban family well but, in this youthful market, it’s a bit devoid of character.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Kia Stonic First Edition 1.0 T-GDi £19,695 (range £16,295 to £20,495)
Engine: 1.0-litre, 118bhp three-cylinder turbo petrol
Performance: 0-60mph 9.9 seconds; top speed 115mph
MPG: 56.5 combined
CO2 emissions: 115g/km