By Steve Berry
SMALLER than Kia’s best-selling Sportage model, the Stonic is an out-and-out B-Segment SUV which means it’s entering the fastest growing market out there.
Sales of these compact SUVs is expected to exceed two million in Europe by 2020.
It had better be good then, with the likes of the Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport, SEAT Arona and Citroen C3 Aircross breathing down its neck.
Kia tell us “Stonic” is a blend of the words “speedy” and “tonic”. I can see where they were going with that but to me it sounds like a word the Gallagher brothers may use. A positive one, though…
The Stonic’s appearance is positive too – youthful and fresh – although you’ll need to choose the range-topping ‘First Edition’ if you want to mix-and-match some truly vibrant colours.
All models get that rakish tiger-grille front end with swept-back headlights.
The fog-lights are placed out wide to give the front a wider, beefier look. It works too, as do the standard 17in alloy wheels and roof rails.
Engine choices are fairly simple with two petrol and one diesel. The 4-cylinder 1.4 petrol unit is best avoided as it feels decidedly underwhelming with just 98bhp.
Best to go for the excellent 3-cylinder, 1-litre T-GDI unit which has 118bhp, is quicker to 60mph (9.9 secs) and has better fuel-economy at 56.5mpg on the combined cycle.
Prices start at just £16,295 OTR for the 1.4 Stonic ‘2’ but spend an extra £700 and you’ll get the better 3-cylinder engine. The diesel model will cost you £17,795 OTR.
All ‘2’ models come well-equipped with 17in alloys, roof rails, tinted glass, rear spoiler, automatic headlights, Hill-Start Assist, rear parking sensors and air conditioning.
The infotainment system is impressive with a six-speaker system, steering wheel mounted controls, USB and Aux ports, Bluetooth with music streaming, 7in display with DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (with voice control) fitted as standard.
I’ve been driving a Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI ‘2’ model and I must say that it’s very difficult to fault on looks, equipment and driving enjoyment.
Inside, there is everything you really need – Air Con, electric windows, cruise control and speed limiter. There’s even a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob.
The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a significant bonus and the ability to run a Sat Nav app through your compatible smart phone is a huge plus.
The driving position is surprisingly on the sporty side. Visibility is still excellent though and even the relatively narrow rear window doesn’t cause any problems.
If you’re familiar with the Kia Rio then you’ll feel at home in the Stonic as both interiors are very similar with a pleasant, open feel up front with everything falling to hand easily. Material quality is good too and on-par with rivals from Renault and Ford but don’t expect lashings of soft-touch material.
The leather-clad steering wheel feels great, the main instruments are clear and uncluttered and the switchgear all feels that it will survive family-life for years to come.
In the rear, you’ll find no more leg room than in the Kia Rio, but it’s okay for a couple of adults or three kids and, of course, with the higher roof you’ll find taller passengers have no problems getting comfortable.
Boot space is just adequate at 352 litres but the good news is that the boot opening is nice and wide and with the 60:40 split rear seats folded flat you get 1,155 litres of space.
The 3-cylinder engine is a little corker and the Stonic felt brisk around town. The gearshift is very good too with the 6-speed manual feeling slick and accurate.
On the motorway the Stonic easily keeps up with fast-moving traffic and I didn’t notice it struggling on the hills either.
Longer journeys won’t be a problem as the seats are supportive without being too firm. The clutch action is nice and light, as you would expect, and the brakes feel spot-on. Steering is a little light for my taste but is in keeping with all main rivals.
The Stonic gets around quicker corners too. However, the trade-off is that it can be a little skittish when the road-surface is broken and you’ll need to slow down for speed-humps.
Overall, I was mightily impressed by the Kia Stonic. It certainly feels sprightly enough out on the road.
The tech is impressive at this price-point too, with plenty of safety-features and driver aids as standard.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, then Kia’s impressive seven-year/100,000 mile warranty may just seal the deal.
AT A GLANCE: Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI ‘2’
OTR Price: £16,995
Engine: 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder petrol
Power: 118 bhp
Transmission: Multi Stage hybrid
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Top Speed: 115 mph
Combined Economy: 56.5 mpg