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Kia Stonic Review

Introduction

Small SUVs are some of the hottest cars in the country right now, and just about every manufacturer has something to offer prospective customers. The Stonic is Kia’s entry, and it trades on plenty of features as standard, sporty handling and some smart looks. Sure, some rivals have more interior space and a more comfortable ride, but Kia’s banking on the fact that your heart will go for the Stonic’s jazzy image and overrule any interjections from your head. Those that follow the heart are unlikely to be disappointed with the Stonic, as there’s plenty to like about it, although when it comes to small SUVs, it’s always worth checking out the opposition, as there are some very good rivals.

Select's rating score* - 3.3 / 5

At a Glance

The Stonic is around the size of Kia’s hatchback, the Rio, albeit taller because of its jacked up suspension. It’s got snappy looks, especially on higher-spec models with two-tone paint, and under the bonnet is a choice of two punchy 1.0-litre engines, with either a manual or automatic gearbox.

The SUV styling is for show and for those that like a high driving position; all models are front-wheel drive only, so this is no off-roader. To be fair, most rivals aren’t either, but there are a few – such as the Volkswagen T-Roc and Suzuki Jimny – that will venture onto muddy fields without complaint. It’s nice inside if not particularly adventurous in its design, and it’s got an unshowy but very easy-to-use infotainment system with all the essential features. You can fit four adults inside comfortably, but five will be a squeeze, and there are more spacious rivals available.

To drive, the Stonic is perhaps surprisingly fun, with an agility when it changes direction that surpasses a lot of other cars of this type. The payoff though is quite a firm ride through the stiff suspension, which is worth keeping in mind if maximum comfort is a priority.

Kia Stonic Side On

Key Features

The Stonic’s appeal comes from funky looks, a sporty driving experience and plenty of features for the money. It also comes with a seven-year warranty from new, and while that doesn’t guarantee reliability it does show how confident Kia is that the Stonic won’t cause you problems during your time with it. The Stonic first appeared in 2017, but it was given a facelift in 2020 with slightly tweaked looks, new colour options and an updated infotainment system, as well as a few extra bits of tech over the original model. That makes for a very well-equipped car as standard, across the range of trim levels.

The engine range was updated in 2020 too, with the arrival of a mild-hybrid 1.0-litre engine with a choice of two power outputs and some clever fuel-saving features.

Size-wise, the Stonic takes up the same amount of space on your drive as a small hatchback, and it’s competing against a huge number of very talented rivals. More on those later.

Kia Stonic Screen

Performance & Drive

The Stonic has been set up to give a bit of vim to the driving experience. Don’t expect a sports car – this is a small family car, after all – but firm suspension keeps things level and tight through the corners, with minimal body roll. It’s not as fun behind the wheel as the Seat Arona, but it’s nippier than you might expect. The downside is that the ride quality isn’t the smoothest available, so if comfort is your number one priority then there are better options.

The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine comes with either 100 or 120 horsepower. Both are actually the same, but the more powerful unit has a mild-hybrid system fitted, which uses a small battery to store energy from braking and coasting, and redeploy it when needed to take the strain off the engine, but it can’t power the Stonic on electric power alone.

That standard engine should be fine for zipping around town, but if you’re out on the motorway regularly you’ll probably appreciate the extra punch of the hybrid system. It’s got enough oomph to feel sprightly most of the time, although if you’ve loaded your car with passengers and a full boot, it’ll have to work hard going up hills. Other rivals boast more engine options, and some even have plug-in hybrid or electric powertrains, which some customers could prefer, but what the Kia does have will be great for a lot of people.

Kia Stonic Driving

Running costs & Emissions

Leasing costs for the Stonic are broadly similar to a lot of rivals, including the Hyundai Kona and Ford Puma. However, there are some small SUVs that you can lease for less, including the Seat Arona and Nissan Juke.

When it comes to fuel economy, official figures show very little difference between the various models of Stonic. The 100hp engine will give you up to 51.4mpg, with no penalty for opting for an automatic gearbox over a manual. The more powerful model drops down to 50.4mpg with a manual gearbox or 49.6mpg with the automatic.

CO2 emissions vary between 125 and 129g/km across the whole range and both engines, putting all models in the 30% benefit-in-kind tax bracket (2022/23).

Insurance groups range between 9 and 11 (of 50) depending on the model, no Stonic will be pricey to cover.

Kia Stonic Rear View

Interior & Technology

The seating position in the Stonic is lower than in some rivals, and it feels more like a hatchback than an SUV. That might disappoint those that are after a commanding view of the road, but it does make it feel more zippy to drive. The design of the interior is relatively understated but it’s nicely thought out, with no fussiness and everything laid out in a logical, easy-to-use fashion. Build quality is good, with everything feeling solidly put together. However, some of the materials lack the premium feel that you’ll get in rivals like the Nissan Juke, Skoda Kamiq and Peugeot 2008.

The infotainment system isn’t as flashy as some on the market, but it’s really easy to use and fast to respond, which isn’t always the case in the Stonic’s rivals. All models get an 8.0-inch touchscreen to control everything, with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all included. Higher-spec cars get sat-nav too.

Kia Stonic Interior

Practicality & Boot Space

The Stonic is a small car, but there’s a reasonable amount of space in it considering its size. Even tall adults up front will have no issues, as those low seats mean loads of headroom. You’ll get two grown-ups in the back too, but taller passengers will likely want to fight for the front seat, as headroom and legroom will be limited for six-footers. Kids and car seats shouldn’t have any issues, but the middle seat is very tight, as is the case in just about every rival too.

The boot is reasonably spacious for this type of car, although there’s quite a lip at the entrance that you’ll have to heave larger items over. A moveable false boot floor can help to offset this a bit, although you lose a bit of depth in the process. If you need extra space you can fold the rear seats down in a 60/40 split, and with the false floor at its upper level you’ll get a flat loading area. Unlike some rivals, you can’t slide the rear seats forwards or backwards to prioritise legroom or boot space.

If boot space is a particular priority, then Ford’s Puma is the car to look at – with 456 litres of space it’s much roomier than the 352 litres in the Stonic.

There are several spaces around the car in which to store odds and ends, including a roomy glovebox, a cubby hole in front of the gearstick and a shelf for your phone. Rear-seat storage is pretty minimal though, with no cup holders.

Kia Stonic Boot Space

Safety

Safety organisation EuroNCAP tested the Stonic in 2017, and awarded it the maximum five-star score, with particularly good marks for tests on adult occupant safety. All cars across the range come with lots of the latest safety features as standard, including an automatic emergency braking that can spot cyclists and pedestrians as well as other vehicles. Higher-spec models add extra equipment, including blind-spot monitoring. Stonics with automatic gearboxes can be specified with adaptive cruise control.

All models get a full complement of front, side and curtain airbags, as well as Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.

Kia Stonic 2

Options

You can choose from four different trim levels on the Stonic. The entry-level model is simply called ‘2’, and comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and standard paint. It has the safety equipment mentioned above, and cloth-covered seats, as well as air-con and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it doesn’t get satellite navigation. If you want that, you’ll need to upgrade to at least the GT-Line trim, which also comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and other exterior upgrades like chrome window trim and tinted rear windows. You also get more powerful LED headlights, cloth and synthetic leather upholstery and a reversing camera.

The Connect model has two-tone paint on the outside and adds technology including automatic wipers and an auto-dimming rear mirror, as well as keyless entry and engine-start. Meanwhile the top-spec GT-Line S model comes with just about everything mentioned above, as well as a height-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel to match, and a luggage net for the boot. It also gets the extra safety systems mentioned earlier, and front parking sensors.

Options are restricted to various paint colours, but that’s not too much of an issue when the standard level of kit is so generous.

Kia Stonic 3

Rival Cars

The Stonic sits in a market full of other very good small SUVs, with just about every major car manufacturer offering something to tempt you away. Which one is right for you depends on your priorities, and because there’s so much choice you can afford to be picky. The Stonic is a good all-rounder that sits towards the more fun-to-drive end of the market, and we’d recommend you also look at the Seat Arona for a similar vibe. The Ford Puma is another car that’s fun behind the wheel, and has a big boot too. Practical options include the Skoda Kamiq and the Volkswagen T-Cross, while if you’re after cars that have eye-catching looks, check out the Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke. For something a bit more premium, Audi’s Q2 could be what you need, and it drives well too. If you’re after something with comfort at the top of its features, then the Hyundai Bayon and Volkswagen T-Roc are worth checking out.

Verdict & Next Steps

The Kia Stonic has much to recommend about it, and a 2020 overhaul has kept it fresh against a long list of potential rivals. Because there’s so much choice at this end of the market, we’d really recommend that you sit down and work out what you need from a small SUV. The Stonic could be a worthy option if you’re after something with a strong reputation for reliability, funky looks and an efficient, punchy engine. It’s got nippy handling too, and the trim options come with lots of standard features. It’s maybe not the car for you if you want something supremely practical for the size, or if you want family transport that puts ride comfort at the top of its features. The lack of engine choice might put some people off, too – there are several rivals that can offer more petrol engines, diesel options, and various plug-in hybrid or electric models.

All that said, the Stonic is a very well thought-out, well-priced and well-equipped car that does lots of things very well, and it deserves a place on your small SUV short list.

Where to next?

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Kia Stonic

**Correct as of 31/12/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £1730.52 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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