site search by freefind
MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia Stonic 1.6 CRDi 3

Click to view picture gallery“At a time when Honey I shrunk
  the World
seems the reality, is Kias
  small but perfectly-formed SUV set
  to take the compact SUV crown?


BIG SUVS AND CROSSOVERS might just be running out of road with mid- and compact-sized versions increasingly grabbing the top slots in the popularity stakes. Both these more amenable sizes offer all the room you really need along with the much-liked commanding driving positions and designer made-over ruggedness of the 4x4 'breeds' that originally inspired them.

One such 'wee' beastie is Kia's Stonic — and it will appeal not just to buyers thinking about upsizing from a supermini but also those wanting a socially-acceptable SUV. The fast-growing B-segment SUV market now accounts for a million-plus cross-Europe annual sales: a big number — and still growing, with double that predicted by 2020 and on target to eclipse those for medium-sized crossovers such as Nissan's highly popular Qashqai.

And to make sure it capitalises on this rapidly expanding demand, Kia has dressed its B-SUV accordingly. Sharp-suited and booted individuality edges the Stonic ahead of its rivals but unlike the Marmite looks of some of the competition (Nissan's Juke, for instance) the Kia appeals to the many and not just the few. Another 'plus' in this market slot that further extends its appeal is the two-tone paintwork on top-trim Stonic '4' versions with contrasting colours — black, lime green, red or orange — for the roof, door mirrors and rear spoiler.

“Kia’s new 1.6 CRDi
turbodiesel is the
‘greenest’ of the Stonic
powerplants. Better still,
its beefy torque is
on tap exactly where you
need it in real-world
driving for easily
accessible muscle.
It delivers nippy progress
in traffic, makes light
work of zipping along
fast B-roads, and lopes
past the legal limit
on motorways...”
Naturally the Stonic makes full use of the brand's instantly-recognisable 'tiger-nose' grille — used here in a wide and narrow interpretation — beneath a stepped and sculpted bonnet, while elsewhere the body mixes both sharp and softly sculpted lines along with stylised C-pillars to up its visual game; a continuous black garnish runs along the sills and rear bumper moulding as well as around the wheelarches and is offset front and rear by silver skid-plates.

When it comes to powerplants buyers can choose from three petrol and diesel units. First up is Kia's 118bhp turboed three-cylinder 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol unit; next comes the other petrol-drinker, a 98bhp 1.4; the diesel entry is a 114bhp 1,598cc four-pot.

If you're picking your engine based on economy then Kia's all-new diesel-sipping 1.6 CRDi should sit at the top of your list courtesy of its official 57.6mpg combined cycle consumption. A week's hard driving saw us log a test average of 59.4mpg; if we can do that then you should definitely do better! The three-pot 1.0-litre can't match that but its 47.1mpg is not to be sniffed at while the 1.4 is not far short of that with 45.6mpg.

The 1.6 CRDi turbodiesel also has the distinction of being the 'greenest' of the trio, with the low CO2 emissions. This unit also proved to be well-matched to the Stonic's weight and dynamics — for a start it responds eagerly to your right foot yet, for the most part, is rarely heard in the cockpit; a distant and non-offensive thrum, no more.

Better still, its beefy 206lb ft of torque is on tap between 1,500 and 3,000rpm — exactly where you need it most in real-world driving conditions. A keen turbodiesel, it delivers nippy progress in traffic, makes light work of zipping along fast B-roads, and lopes past the legal limit on motorways. The maximum speed tops 'the ton' at 112mph; off the line to 60mph takes 10.5 seconds. While a slick-changing six-speed stick shift is standard fare to keep the turbodiesel happily in its sweet spot, Kia's seven-speed dual-clutch autobox can be specified on both '3' and '4' spec 1.0 T-GDI models.

The cabin is smartly finished with attractive two-tone upholstery (black cloth with grey faux leather on the bolsters and accents on the seatback centre panels) complemented by matching two-tone door panels. A large infotainment touchscreen occupies the centre-dash where, set conveniently high, it's an easy glance for the driver. Fit and finish matches the good looking materials and everything feels satisfyingly solid and built to last.

If you’re picking your
engine based on
economy then Kia’s
diesel-sipping 1.6 CRDi
should sit at the top of
your list courtesy of its
claimed 57.6mpg
combined cycle
consumption.
A week’s hard driving
saw us log a test average
of 59.4mpg; if we can
do that then you should
definitely do better!”
Switchgear is logically laid-out — and there's not too much of it. The instrumentation — two main dials bracketing a multi-mode driver's information display that includes the must-have digital speed readout — is foolproof white-on-black and easily read both night and day. Adding to the driver's pleasure is a great-to-grip, flat-bottomed ('D-shaped' if you're precious about the 'b'-word!), perforated leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. Fans of the traditional pull-up handbrake will be pleased to find that that is exactly what you get in the Stonic.

A major reason for buying a smaller SUV instead of a similar sized hatchback is for the commanding driving position (the Stonic's is also easy to set thanks to generous wheel and seat adjustment). Settle in the driver's seat — you'll find it instantly comfortable and supportive — and that's exactly what you get, along with fine views down the bonnet and of the surrounding traffic. For the record, the view of what's behind you is comprehensively 'widescreen' thanks to the full-width rear screen.

Along with a fist of headroom in the airy cabin there's also ample elbow room for wheel twirling and enough to spare for two adults seated up front to feel free to move about. In fact, when it comes to inner space the Stonic's cabin offers much more than you might be expecting given its 'compact' crossover grading. And even taller drivers won't go short of legroom either plus there's a comfy rest for their left foot.

There are also plenty of places to stash your personal odds and ends: bottle-holders in every door, a pair of dual-use cupholders, more storage under the armrest between the front seats and a deep open tray tucked under the climate control panel in the centre stack, plus an illuminated glovebox and an overhead drop-down sunglasses case.

You'll find Comms are well specced too, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control for hassle-free smartphone mirroring. Kia Connected Services feature TomTom Live and the 7-inch screen's infotainment and idiot-proof navigation benefit from crisp, clear graphics, handy shortcut buttons, and quick and intuitive menus. The posted speed limit is displayed on the active mapping. The essential USB and Aux-in jacks are easy to find plus there's Bluetooth with music streaming, DAB radio and a six-speaker audio system. A reversing camera with dynamic guidelines is also slaved to the central touchscreen and there are rear parking sensors to help avoid car park dings.

Advanced driver
assistance systems
include Forward
Collision-Avoidance
Assist (with autonomous
emergency braking and
pedestrian detection)
as well as Lane Keeping
Assist, a take-a-break
guardian angel to watch
over a drowsy or
distracted driver, and
automatic headlight
beam switching between
dip and main
to maximise night-time
driving light without
dazzling other
road-users...”
You get plenty of kit that, along with everything already mentioned includes automatic AirCon (and very efficient it is too), all round electric windows (driver's is auto up/down), auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated powerfolding door mirrors, cruise control and speed limiter, automatic drive-off door locking, auto lights and wipes, tyre pressure monitoring, height-adjustable front seatbelts, bi-function projection headlights with static cornering lights, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, a full suite of airbags, and a set of 17-inch alloy wheels.

The '3' level spec includes a number of advanced driver assistance systems: Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection) as well as Lane Keeping Assist, a take-a-break guardian angel to watch over a drowsy or distracted driver, and automatic headlight beam switching between dip and main to maximise night-time driving light without dazzling other road-users.

Naturally there's also Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management systems (with integrated torque vectoring and Straight Line Stability and Cornering Brake Control) and hill-start assist for tricksy pull-aways on steep gradients.

The Stonic's rear cab is inviting as well as a good place to travel. Even though you sit noticeably higher than those in the front row, headroom is fine and, if needs must, the back seat is wide enough for three side-by-side. Two adults will definitely be comfortable and have enough legroom even when seated behind a six-footer, and will each have more than enough territory to maintain friendly relations. The provision of a USB charging point is appreciated. Dark-tinted glass from the B-pillars back takes the sting out of the sun's rays and provides privacy from prying eyes but doesn't hamper wide-ranging views out through the long and deep side windows.

The Stonic rolls on 17-inch wheels but that doesn't harm the ride which is agreeably firm; while settled for passengers it also keeps the driver informed of the profile of the road surfaces being driving over. It's no hardship pootling around country lanes in the Stonic and it feels equally relaxed in town where the accommodating 55-profile Continental rubber helps absorb any jolts from humpty-dumpty blacktop.

At 4.1-metres nose-to-tail the Stonic feels agreeably light on its feet. Partly that's down to the same platform underpinning it as carries its supermini sister, the Rio. The Stonic's power hits the road through the front wheels (four-wheel drive is not on the menu). The decently-weighted rack and pinion steering is precise and direct, body roll is well reined-in, the brakes reassuring (discs at each corner; ventilated at the sharp end), and the suspension tuned for European roads.

The Stonics power hits
the road through
the front wheels and
the decently-weighted
steering is precise and
direct, body roll is well
reined-in, and the brakes
reassuring. And you
don
t have to travel many
miles to grasp that this
compact SUV from Kia
is a refreshingly wieldy
little number and
assuredly one of the
sharper drives in the
B-SUV sector...”
As already mentioned, torque vectoring and Cornering Brake Control are part of the Stonic's Vehicle Stability Management system and do a great job of helping get the power down through the twisties. You don't have to travel many miles to grasp that this compact SUV from Kia is a refreshingly wieldy little number and assuredly one of the sharper drives in the B-SUV sector.

Access to the deep boot is hassle-free thanks to a high-lifting tailgate and back-friendly load height. It's a good size too: its 352 litres will happily swallow everyday items such as a large baby buggy (folded) plus all the paraphernalia that usually accompanies such things, as well as plenty of family shopping.

Top spec '4' versions come with a two-level boot floor giving you the option of worthwhile extra inches for your luggage or a hidden underfloor locker with a boot floor that's perfectly level with the rear 60:40-split seatbacks when folded in loadbay mode (1,155 litres). Of course there are bag holding hooks and, on the outside, roof rails. And it'll tow too — a braked 1,110kg.

Kicking off at 16K (and topping out at 21K) puts the Stonic in easy reach of most motorists and running costs will be low courtesy of that 60mpg and the wide-range of service plans on offer. And you'll be covered by Kia's excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty that trumps that of any other car brand. The satisfying to own Stonic is yet another in an increasingly long line of desirable, good to drive yet very affordable Kias. ~ MotorBar
.
Kia Stonic 1.6 CRDi '3' | 19,575
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-60mph: 10.5 seconds | Test Average: 59.4mpg
Power: 114bhp | Torque: 206lb ft | CO2: 106g/km

.