Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi review

The humble hatchback might not be deceased, but it's certainly fallen prey to the car buying public's passion for crossovers. As such, taller versions of conventional superminis and hatches are easy to find in the UK, and any mass-market manufacturer wanting to compete has to have a few in their portfolios. As such, Kia's Stonic represents the Korean manufacturer in the small crossover stakes, combining a small footprint with easier access and SUV-lite styling. NGC sees how the Stonic gets on.

Review by Chris Lilly

PERFORMANCE

There are a few engines on offer from Kia with the Stonic - one diesel and two petrols - and it is potentially the pick of the bunch tested here with the 1.0 T-GDi unit. The three-cylinder engine is well suited to the work a typical Stonic driver will likely require of it. Free-revving, the 1.0 T-GDi will get up to speed quickly, and typically prove more suited overall to the short trips that a Stonic is likely to make regularly. With 118 bhp and 171 Nm of torque, there is plenty of punch to get the little Kia going. It's not a sporty option - the 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds signifies this - but it's well suited to the task, and pulls eagerly around town. On the open road, the three-cylinder thrum can become a little intrusive, but it's not unrefined. Power is put through the front wheels only via a six-speed manual gearbox, which offers a nice action to the gear changes. It's not particularly engaging, but the changes are easy, and again well suited to the task.

HANDLING

The core attribute of compact crossovers is that the driving experience must be as engaging as a conventional supermini; or at least almost as much. The Stonic doesn’t disappoint here, with a nimble set-up that makes good use of the relatively low ride height and wheels pushed into each corner. It’s no Mazda CX-3 to drive - the market leader in “drivers’ crossovers” - but it will put a smile on your face when faced with the twisty stuff. Steering weight is good, turn in precise, and suspension a good balance between stiff and supple. This all translates well to other driving environments too, with the Stonic able to tackle urban driving easily. The sharp steering makes light work of tight spaces, and the suspension deals with lumps and bumps well. It’s not the most refined model in its class, but you could hardly call it uncomfortable. Even motorway driving is dealt with capably, no small feat with a compact car.

BODY STYLE

It’s not my favourite car design around, but on the whole I like the Stonic’s looks. It’s striking enough to catch the eye, but there’s no flamboyance in the aesthetics to start to put punters off. It’s remarkably similar in concept to a Seat for example, aiming for a youthful market with a design to suit. The design translates well to practical matters too, as the Stonic is surprisingly practical inside. Boot space isn’t class leading, but plenty big enough for most. It’s easy to use too with a wide boot hatch and flat floor allowing for easy access and use of the load area. The rear seats are also more than capable of holding two large adults without complaints from those in the back. Head, leg, and shoulder room is ample, and means the Stonic makes a good case for itself as a practical little family car. Up front, there is space aplenty, and Kia has added lots of neat storage solutions about the cabin. The front door bins are able to hold large water bottles for example, and there are other cubby holes located about the interior.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi interior

Kia has done a good job with comfort, to complement the space offered. Seats provide plenty of support without requiring a number of adjustment options, and a good driving position is easy to find. The switchgear is logically laid out too, if a little cluttered by current trends. This does mean that all features are easily accessible though, without having to go through various touchscreen menus and taking your eyes off the road. The controls feel well built, though not of the highest quality plastics. As such you get the feeling that the Stonic is built to survive life as a workhorse, rather than tempt buyers in with a premium ownership experience.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

The most efficient version of the Stonic available is fitted with the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine, and will return around 70 MPG according to official figures. The 1.0 T-GDi unit fitted to the test car can’t achieve that sort of fuel economy, but it’s pretty frugal nonetheless. Official figures are quoted at more than 50 MPG for the compact petrol unit, and in real-world conditions I achieved 47 MPG after more than 300 miles. That’s with a variety of driving styles and routes covered. VED will cost £165 for the first year - included in the car’s OTR - and then the stock £140 Standard Rate thereafter.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

Again, the diesel option tops the Stonic’s emissions table, with CO2 emissions starting at 106 g/km. The test car was rated with CO2 emissions of 130 g/km, almost as high as it gets in the range. The engines across the range - particularly the downsized T-GDi - are designed to be highly efficient. The unit is lighter and more compact than previous offerings, improving economy scores, but without compromising on performance. Kia has focused on front-wheel drive for the Stonic since sales of all-wheel drive compact crossovers are small. This also means the Stonic is more efficient than an all-wheel drive set-up. Auto stop/start is fitted to cut fuel usage when stationary in traffic, there’s a gear shift indication to help keep drivers in the right ratio, and the platform on which the Stonic is built is lightweight but stiff. According to our calculations, the Kia Stonic tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 44.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Kia’s trim levels are easy to understand, with the Stonic coming in 2, 3, and 4 specifications - with a First Edition tested available for early takers. All models come with 17-inch alloys as standard, along with gloss design details, front fog lights, automatic headlights, leather trimmed steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, and electric windows. The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with USB, Bluetooth, DAB, and Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto connectivity comes in from ‘3’, which also adds the likes of a reversing camera, automatic air conditioning, shark fin antenna, and rear privacy glass. Top of the range models also get two-tone contrasting roof, faux leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start, and blind-spot detection system.

MODEL SUMMARY

Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi rear

The market might be crowded, but the Kia Stonic certainly warrants consideration, performing well across the board, if not standing out in any specific area. It’s good to drive, won’t cost much to run, and is nicely designed. Plus, it comes with Kia’s market leading seven year warranty, to offer added piece of mind.

Model tested: Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi First Edition
Body-style: Compact crossover
Engine / CO2: 1.0 litre 118bhp turbo-charged petrol / 130 g/km
Trim grades: 2, 3, 4, First Edition

On-road price: From £16,500. Price as tested: £19,900
Warranty: Seven years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

Click here for more info about this model range

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:4th Jul 2018

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