Steve tests Kia’s new baby SUV the Stonic, to find out if it can compete in a very competitive small SUV sector.
Launched in 2017 in South Korea the Stonic is based on the fourth generation Kia Rio and is the smallest SUV in the Kia range. The name is allegedly derived from the words speedy and tonic, but whether the car lives up to this is up to you as the reader.
The Stonic is available in four trim levels and the entry level starts at £16,500 for the entry level model and goes up to £21,000 if the highest spec car is chasen with an automatic gearbox. The four spec levels are:
Stonic 2 – Despite being the entry level model it does come with a good selection of equipment such as apple car play/android auto, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, electric windows, 17” alloy wheels, DAD radio within a 7” display, roof rails and Bi-function Projection Headlights.
Stonic 3 spec adds further goodies including reversing camera, sat nav, rain sensing wipers, perforated leather steering wheel, LED rear lights and seats in black cloth/grey faux leather accents. More importantly the Stonic 3 benefits from added safety features such as lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency brake assist and the advanced driver assistance pack.
Stonic 4 adds heated seats, heated steering wheel, blind spot detection, keyless entry/ignition with start/stop button as well as the features from the Stonic 3 spec.
Stonic Mixx adds a touch of colour with orange accents on the dash and seats plus two tone paint, reverse camera, Bi-function Projection Headlights, privacy glass and day time running lights.
Besides the four trim levels, buyers also have the choice between two petrol engines and one diesel engine which are mated to either a 6 speed manual or automatic transmission. All three engines are fitted with start/stop technology. The engine choices are a 1.0 turbo charged direct injected petrol which produces 118bhp with 51.4–56.5 mpg 9, a 1.4 naturally aspirated multi point injected petrol engine producing 98bhp with 49.6 mpg or a 1.6 turbo diesel producing 108bhp with 67.3–70.6 combined 109 g/km of C02 emissions. Generally reliability should be good, as let’s not forget the Stonic will come with Kia’s 7 year warranty. (please note MPG figures are from the Manufactures specifications).
Despite a good level of safety as standard the Stonic only managed to achieve a 3* safety rating with Euro NCAP, but with the additional safety features of the ADAP safety pack as fitted on Stonic 3 spec and above the Stonic was then awarded 5* by Euro NCAP.
Driving the Kia Stonic
The car I have on test is a 2018 first edition model which combines features of both the Stonic 3 and Stonic 4 specs with the 1.6CRD diesel engine which produces 108bhp and is joined to the 6 speed manual gearbox. The 1.6 diesel is only available with Stonic 3 spec as of 2019 but my test car then has all the luxuries available on 2019 Stonic 4 spec cars.
Climbing into the cabin I found getting a comfortable seating position a doddle but felt the seat could have been more supportive for my back and would benefit of lumbar support. Other than this small niggle I found the Stonic had plenty of space for four passengers to fit comfortably for height and width as well as a decent level of luggage space, the latter accommodating 352 litres. I also found all the switches in easy reach and well posited on the dash or steering wheel. In addition, the instrument cluster and infotainment system were concise and simple to use.
Pressing the engine start button the four cylinder diesel engine bursts into life. On the open road I found the engine had more than enough torque for pulling away at traffic lights or whilst driving around town. I also found the engine a pleasure on both motorways and country roads as very little engine noise seeps into the cabin. Thanks to my mixed driving I got an average of 46.2mpg and the lowest I achieved was 37mpg. I could only find one fault with the engine as it was a little unrefined, but feel this is a small price to pay for the torque and mpg most buyers will achieve. I also found the 6 speed manual smooth and well suited to the engine.
Moreover, I have further praise for the Stonics suspension as it rode the bumps well and didn’t have as much body roll as I expected. In addition I found the steering both light and precise which gave confidence when pushing on into corners. However I did find that on the motorway the Stonic did get slightly twitchy but this could be partly due to the recently strong winds. I found visibility very good, partly helped by thin A pillars and despite thick C pillars reversing is easy with the reversing sensors and camera. I found the door mirrors provided a good view as well which is aided by blind spot assist on this car.
The Motorists Guide View
Just like the Kia Niro I drove a few months back I was very impressed with the Stonic, as I found it a nice car to drive as well as being well equipped. In my opinion the Stonic 3 or Stonic 4 make most sense for buyers if budgets allow, due to the extra safety equipment they offer. This is especially important as the Stonic is targeted in the small crossover category and aimed at families. If you were keen on having a diesel model, then I would advise you look at purchasing a used first edition model just like our test car. This will allow the buyer to benefit from diesel economy as well as Stonic 4 spec equipment. Whichever Stonic model you choose, I am sure you will not be disappointed with the build quality, equipment level or space it provides.
Length 4,140 mm
Width 1,760 mm
Edited by Steve Q
Reasonable engine choices BAD POINTS: Lack of lumbar support
Fidgety on motorways