Kia's funky debut compact SUV case of grin and Stonic!
Kia has entered the small SUV market with its supermini-sized Stonic with smart styling and a sense of fun, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
I’m regularly driving new compact crossovers or small SUVs and it seems motorists can’t get enough of them.
The supermini-sized SUV sector is a bright spot in a gloomy car market and set to double to 2.2 million units in Europe by 2020. Korean car-maker Kia wants a part of it with its new Stonic, looking to sell up to 100,000 a year – 10 to 15pc in the UK.
Looks and image
Kia has had a lot of success in the SUV market with the family-sized Sportage and large Sorento.
The funky Stonic, based on the Rio supermini, is and aimed at a younger market looks really smart in bold, bright colours. Unfortunately the two-tone paint job, with the roof, door mirrors and rear spoiler in black, lime green, red or orange and with matching colour accents on seats, centre console and touchscreen, is only on First Edition and not ‘2’ trim.
Under the bonnet
Nothing new here with the tried-and-tested 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol, only in the entry model, and 118bhp, 1.0-litre, turbo petrol and 108bhp, 1.6-litre turbo diesel – all six-speed manual and no auto option.
The little turbo petrol is flexible and zippy but, if you do the miles, the diesel’s economy is the big attraction. It’s noisy when cold and worked hard but cruises quietly and returned 50 to 55mpg.
How it drives
As compact SUVs go, higher off the ground than the superminis they are based on, the Stonic is fun to drive with the electronic driver aids using the brakes to keep in on course in bends and in line on the straight for better stability. It’s nimble through corners with plenty of grip, little body roll and well-weighted steering.
What lets it down is the lumpy low-speed ride, thumping over sunken drain covers, potholes and rough roadworks. It’s better travelling faster but remains sensitive to poor surfaces and there’s a lot of tyre roar.
Space and comfort
The Rio is no small supermini and the Stonic is slightly longer and 70mm taller – 42mm of that down to higher ground clearance – so there’s good headroom and enough rear legroom for adults to travel in comfort.
The boot is a useful 352 litres and 60/40 split rear seat backs fold flat for a 1,155-litre load bay. Range-topping First Edition has a dual-height luggage floor.
There’s also some storage space in the spare wheel well with a tyre inflation kit while useful cabin stowage adds to the Stonic’s practical nature.
At the wheel
Inside, the look is not as characterful with the typical Kia fascia with clear deals, simple buttons and rotary controls for heating and ventilation. Other functions are operated via an intuitive and responsive high-level seven-inch touchscreen.
Large swathes of hard plastics, albeit well finished, confirm the Stonic’s about high standard spec than fancy frills.
The driving position has a good range of adjustment for a comfortable set up.
Entry ‘2’ trim includes 17in alloy wheels, air-con, electric windows, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electric and heated mirrors, Bluetooth with voice recognition, auto lights and static cornering lights.
First Edition adds two-tone paintwork, keyless entry and ignition, black cloth a leather-effect seats, auto air-con, rear privacy glass, heated front seats and extra safety features – auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, high beam assist and systems to alert the driver to vehicles in the blindspot or crossing behind when reversing out of a parking space.
The B-segment SUV market is fiercely competitive, and will get more so with new models. Kia’s Stonic is a welcome addition with attractive pricing and class-leading seven-year warranty.
TECH AND SPEC
Price: Kia Stonic ‘2’ 1.6 CRDi £17,795 (range £16,295 to £20,495)
Engine: 1,582cc, 108bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-60mph 10.9 seconds; top speed 112mph
MPG: Urban 57.6; extra urban 74.3; combined 67.3
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 23pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 14
Warranty: Seven years or 100,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,140mm W 1,760mm; H 1,520mm