The small SUV is becoming a big player in the car market. Combining a compact family hatchback with a higher driving position seems to be a popular choice. Personalisation and individuality are also becoming more commonplace. So that sets me up nicely to introduce you to the Kia Stonic.
If you could sum up the styling in one word, I think “funky” would do. Kia has worked hard to make the Stonic cheeky and modern. On the First Edition (as we tested) two-tone colour schemes give a really fresh appearance. Our test car was Graphite with Lime Green roof, which was fantastic.
At the front the Stonic is unmistakeably Kia, featuring the ‘tiger nose’ grille. The lines are a combination of bold angles and sweeping curves, making the Stonic look bigger than it actually is. I couldn’t help but think that the Stonic looked a lot like a beefed up Kia Rio, but essentially that’s exactly what it is.
To the side, 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels fill the arches nicely. The C-pillar is prominent, and splits the secondary colour roof. Silver roof rails and privacy glass give a premium feel, whilst the plastic lower trims bring in a rugged edge.
At the back, the tough-looking bumper incorporates a silver diffuser, and a large exhaust tip. The secondary-colour spoiler is extended by black side trims, which is a nice design feature.
Overall this is a tough looking car, with broad arches, a tall stance and a slightly aggressive front end. I also think it looks better than the car from which it spawned: the Rio.
Climb inside the Kia Stonic, and you’re greeted to the usual Kia interior that we all expect, but with the same funky edge as the exterior. The layout of the cabin will look familiar, and the various buttons and switches are logically laid out in a similar fashion to other models.
There are several colourful interiors available, which match the exterior colour chosen. So in our test car the dashboard and centre console featured lime green aceenting, as do the seats, and green stitching brings the whole design package together nicely.
The seats feature both medium grey and black artificial leather and the door armrests are a lighter grey. This moves away from the black on black interiors and helps create a light, airy atmosphere which in turn gives a greater sense of space.
In terms of quality, some of the plastics were a little scratchy, and it lacked those premium-feeling materials, but then this is true of most cars in this segment. On the whole the Kia Stonic feels well put together. I also like the multimedia screen, which sits on the top of the centre console rather than being incorporated into it.
This small SUV has a small range of engines, with a choice of 1.6-litre CRDi diesel, a 1.4-litre petrol and a 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol. All feature 6-speed manual gearboxes. Automatic options, along with further trim levels, are expected to join the range this year.
Our test car featured the smallest of the three; the 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine. I think this is actually the engine best suited to the Kia Stonic: it’s small in size but big in presence, offering the most power out of the three engines available.
Developing 118PS and 171Nm of torque, it will propel the Stonic from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 115mph. It doesn’t sound brilliant on paper, but with a throaty 3-cylinder soundtrack and an engaging 6-speed manual gearbox the Stonic certainly feels lively.
If you push hard into the higher realms of the rev range and work the gearbox, then you are rewarded with an engaging drive. But then you can also effortlessly cruise on the motorway, and potter round town. For a small engine the 1.0 T-GDi is a well-rounded package.
Ride / Handling
In general, crossovers are not the most thrilling of cars to drive. This is largely because they are based on hatchbacks with added road height, and that higher centre of gravity causes more lean and roll.
During normal driving the ride is comfortable. The seats weren’t the most comfortable on a longer journey, but around town the Kia Stonic absorbs little bumps and potholes well.
The steering is nicely weighted, and despite the styling making the Stonic feel big, from behind the wheel it feels small and nimble. The driving position was fine for me, but taller people may feel a little cramped behind the wheel.
More spirited driving emphasises the pitfalls of a taller stature, with corner lean and body roll becoming more apparent, exaggerated by a lack of lateral support in the seats. In a way it is a shame, because with such a lively engine the Stonic could have been great fun to drive.
I should also point out that the Kia Stonic, as with most small SUVs, is strictly front-wheel drive only. There are no clever grip systems or selectable drive modes, so the ‘Utility’ aspect of the SUV name might be called into question should you find yourself in a field.
Whichever engine you choose in the Kia Stonic, it will be reasonably frugal. All engines feature Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) and with a kerb weight of 1,160kg to 1,255kg there isn’t a great deal of weight to haul around.
The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine featured in our test car claims 56.5mpg on the combined cycle, and is best suited to lower-mileage drivers. Anyone who does longer commutes may want to consider the diesel, because of its superior 67.3mpg on the combined cycle.
CO2 emissions start from 109g/km for the 1.6 CRDi, rising to 115g/km for the 1.0 T-GDi and to 125g/km for the 1.4 MPI. First year VED is £140 for the diesel and £160 for both petrol engines. Subsequent years are £140 across the range.
As with any small, turbocharged engine the T-GDi is brilliant if you drive gently; offering superb fuel consumption. Drive a little more enthusiastically and you can soon see the consumption figure drop.
The cabin space in the Kia Stonic is largely comparable with the Rio on which it is based, albeit with a little more head room thanks to that taller frame.
The rear leg room is less than I was expecting given how big and chunky the Stonic looks from the outside. Adults would find longer journeys uncomfortable, but ultimately that is a drawback of the small SUV. For adults up front and kids in the back, the Stonic has enough space to be a useful family car.
Throughout the cabin you’ll find plenty of practical storage pockets, cup-holders and a decent 7 litre glovebox (which is becoming a rarity on cars these days). The central armrest also features a nifty storage compartment. In the rear, Kia have added drink holders for water bottles, however this failed to hold my 2-year old daughter’s drink bottle. More child-friendly storage would be welcomed, given that the Stonic is aimed at families.
The boot space on the Kia Stonic is 352 litres. This is fine for the weekly shop, but when you load up the kids and their possessions you might hope for a little more. When compared to rivals, the Stonic is small: the Citroen C3 Aircross has a boot space of 410 litres, for example.
Getting items in and out of the boot was easy thank to a false floor, providing a flat load floor and a wide opening. The Stonic’s rear seats also folded completely flat, making those larger Ikea items a breeze to load into the back.
The ace up the sleeve of any Kia is the list of standard equipment, and the Stonic is no exception. A Kia Stonic ‘2’ gets 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch TFT screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, electric windows, rear parking sensors, air conditioning and front LED daytime running lights.
The Stonic First Edition adds keyless entry with push-button start, satellite navigation, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, reversing camera, autonomous emergency breaking, blind spot detection and lane departure warning system.
The added safety features and driver assistance systems ensure the First Edition scores 5 stars in the Euro NCAP ratings. So you can be confident it will keep you and the family safe. It also reduces the insurance group by 2 groups (12 vs. 14) on the equivalent ‘2’. IT would seem that insurers now appreciate technology designed to help you avoid crashing.
Anyone I took out in the Stonic was impressed at how much equipment it featured. Not too many years ago the likes of a heated steering wheel would be inconceivable on what is essentially a family hatchback. But the fact is these creature comforts are easy to get used to, making the Stonic feel like a treat.
Value For Money
The Kia Stonic range starts at £16,295 OTR for the 1.4 MPI ‘2’. The most expensive model is the 1.6 CRDi First Edition which costs a still-reasonable £20,495 OTR. Considering the standard equipment you get, I’d call that exceptional value for money.
The only ‘optional extras’ relate to paint, with white paint costing £250 and other premium colours costing £545. The Kia Stonic won’t break the bank to buy, and it’s also backed by Kia’s 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty to give you peace of mind.
If you want even more value, then why not add Kia Care-3 with MOT? This comprises 3 services and the car’s first MOT. Priced at £329 for a diesel and £429 for a petrol it, like the Stonic itself, works out at great value.
Time will tell what residuals will be like on the Kia Stonic, but I would imagine that a car as comprehensively-equipped as the First Edition will have some demand in the second hand car market. The beauty of a Kia is that you can sell it at 5 years old and the new owner still has warranty remaining!
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||118PS at 6,000rpm|
|Max torque||171Nm at 1,500rpm – 4,000rpm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||45 litres|
|Fuel consumption||56.5mpg, combined cycle|
|Towing capacity||1,110kg braked / 450kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||352 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£20,240|