Kia Stonic hatchback (2017 - ) review
The Kia Stonic is a small SUV that plays rival to the likes of the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Fiat 500X. Like those cars, it plays mainly on its style, but it offers a decent amount of equipment and practicality, too.
Interested in buying a Kia Stonic?
How good does it look?
The Stonic takes the latest Kia family look, established by the larger Sportage, and repackages it into a small size, not much bigger than the Rio hatchback. Some sharp lines are enhanced by a range of colour options, although you’ll have to pay extra for many of them and not all are available on the different versions. There’s also two-tone roof paint on top-end models that makes the rear pillar design really stand out. Kia thinks most customers will want their Stonics to come very tooled-up, so both the two trim levels are well stocked. The 2 model includes 17-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors, as well as LED daytime running lights. The top-of-the-range model is called the First Edition, and is on sale for the first 12 months of the Stonic’s life in the UK. It includes the two-tone paint with contrasting roof, along with a whole heap of other luxury equipment.
What's the interior like?
At first glance, the Stonic’s cabin looks fairly smart and grown up, with a simple, restrained design and plenty of neat-looking matt-finish surfaces. Once you focus a little more closely, though, you’ll notice that the plastics on display are rather harder and less appealing than they first appear, and that quickly makes the cabin feel a little less special. Having said that, few will argue with how solid and hard-wearing the interior feels, so it should stand up well to the rigours of family life. The simple design does mean that the various buttons and switches are easy to find, and clear markings mean they’re also a doddle to use. The touch-screen infotainment system is reasonably foolproof as well, although it’s still not the most intuitive system you’ll come across. SUVs – even small ones – commonly have a high, king-of-the-road driving position, but that’s not the case in the Stonic: your chair is low-set, like in a more regular hatchback. Still, that will be a blessing to as many people as it is curse, and your all-round visibility is still impressively clear.
How practical is it?
There’s plenty of room for four adults in the Stonic, with enough legroom for a six-foot passenger to sit behind a similarly sized driver without feeling too cramped. Headroom is sufficient, too, although, if your passenger measures much above that six-foot mark, then there’ll be some unwanted contact between ceiling and scalp. Fitting a third passenger in the rear isn’t out of the question, though, because the middle seat is wide and there’s more space for their feet than in many rivals. Boot space is very similar to that provided by the Nissan Juke and Fiat 500X, but it’s considerably smaller than in the Renault Captur. There’s quite a high lip that you’ll have to lug heavy stuff over, too, and when you drop the rear seats, there’s an awkward step in the load area caused by the height difference between the floor and the folded seats. However, if you opt for the First Edition, the boot features a movable floor that gets rid of both the lip and the step, leaving you with a perfectly flat load floor.
What's it like to drive?
You might well expect an SUV – even a small one – to have a soft, comfort-focused ride, but that’s not the approach that Kia has taken with the Stonic. It tries instead to provide an altogether sportier experience, and it’s actually pretty successful on that score. The body stays neatly controlled during changes of direction, which gives it a nimble and alert feel, and the steering feels responsive and well weighted. Despite the looks, all Stonics have front-wheel drive rather powering all four wheels, so you don’t get that extra slice of grip and traction, but there’s plenty to be getting on with. The Stonic’s nimbleness also makes it an easy car to drive in an urban environment, but the firm ride prevents it from feeling totally at home here. It feels rather fidgety and unsettled over particularly poor surfaces, so it won’t keep you as comfortable as a Renault Captur will. That said, it’s nothing that’ll have the kids going green around the gills, and the ride does settle down at higher motorway speeds.
How powerful is it?
The Stonic comes with three engines, all of which come with – for now, at least – a manual gearbox. The entry-level engine is a 1.4 petrol, which we haven’t yet had the opportunity to try, but it’ll have limited appeal because it’s dirtier and less powerful than the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol option. This one provides plenty of punch for the majority of the time, and it also stays fairly smooth and quiet, making it the pick of the range. The 1.6-litre diesel also provides perky, muscular performance that never leaves you short of go, but it’s a little noisier than some buyers might like.
How much will it cost me?
Prices for the Stonic sit at the more affordable end of the small SUV spectrum, although in truth, there’s not really a colossal difference between the priciest and the cheapest choices. There is more of a difference with the amount of standard kit you get for your money, though, and because the Stonic is very competitive on that score, it looks like cracking value for money compared with its rivals. Ignore the 1.4 petrol engine, which we’d advise, and the Stonic also does a good job on efficiency, meaning affordable taxation and fuel bills. Servicing costs will be more affordable than those on many rivals, too. Most crucially, though, the Stonic’s resale values look to be very solid indeed compared with those of its competitors, which will do wonders for your long-term running costs.
How reliable is it?
As it’s a brand-new model, we don’t have any data for the Stonic’s reliability. However, Kia sits solidly mid-table in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which ranks manufacturers as a whole, while the brand sits equal top in JD Power’s 2017 Vehicle Dependability Survey. Should anything go wrong, all new Kias have an impressive seven-year warranty.
How safe is it?
The Stonic scored a disappointing three stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP. All models come with six airbags and two Isofix child seat fixing points in the back, along with all the usual electronic traction and stability aids. For 2 models, that’s where the standard safety kit stops, but for an affordable price, you can add an optional safety pack that includes automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning system and headlamps that automaticall switch between dipped and main beams. That package comes as standard on the First model, along with a system that warns you when a car is sitting in your blind spot, or of approaching cars when you’re reversing out of a parking space. Cars with the safety pack see the Euro NCAP score rise to the maximum five stars, so if you're particularly safety conscious, it's essential.
How much equipment do I get?
There are two versions of the Stonic, both of which come with a lot of equipment as standard. The entry-level 2 model provides electric windows all round, rear parking sensors remote locking, automatic headlights, air-conditioning and a touch-screen infotainment system that brings together Bluetooth, a DAB radio, voice recognition and steering-mounted controls. In the First edition, that system is upgraded to also provide sat-nav, along with various connected services. The First also adds keyless entry and start, automatic air conditioning and heated front seats with part-faux leather upholstery.
Because you want a stylish small SUV that delivers the agile driving experience more similar to that of a regular hatchback. If you’re after the full SUV experience in a small package – that is, a comfy ride and a high driving position – the Stonic probably isn’t for you. But, if you want a bit of fizz behind the wheel, the Stonic is worth a look.