Kia have come on in leaps and bounds over the last twenty years or so and are now spoken about in the same manner as the more traditional big hitters here in the UK. And with an innovative model range that thrives upon regular reinvention, it’s no surprise that Kia now find themselves up against such equally well developed competition.
As part of Kia’s carefully planned expansion into new and exciting segments they’ve brought us their massively popular Sportage, all-new Nero hybrid and PHEV, the rather incredible Stinger and this, their Stonic, a rather youthful urban crossover.
All of which brings us to the Kia Stonic ‘2’ 1.0 T-GDi ISG on test this week. Resplendent in it’s striking Blaze Red Pemium paint, the Stonic looks good from any angle especially the clever reworking of Kia’s signature Tiger-Nose grille with it solid centre. Gorgeous curves flow across the exterior of the Stonic with the bonnet displaying perhaps the most prominent with bold lines sweeping majestically from the inside of the front light cluster right up to and merging into the A-pillars. Infact the whole of the front end is a riot of ideas, mixing sports, urban and off road in equal measures. The projector fog lights and Bi-function Projection Headlights with Static Bending and stylish LED Daytime Running Lights creating a fresh and distinctive look amongst this crowded market place.
The Kia’s compact dimensions, size that makes it such an attractive runaround in town and congested city streets, also works in it’s favour when looking over the Stonic’s side and rear profile. With bold rear wheel arches complementing the almost concave lower panels, LED rear combination lights and strikingly sculpted tailgate, this Kia projects an urban cool that should have buyers flocking to their local Kia showroom.
An interior that provides technology and comfort in equal measures is a must when designing a car that is to appeal to the more youthful amongst us as well as making sure that the rest still feel comfortable with features that are both well designed and more importantly, easy to use. Fortunately, Kia know their customers and have included a swathe of up to date features designed to create a comfortable, practical and advanced interior.
The infotainment technology, including a 7 inch colour touchscreen (Navigation featuring TomTom live is available in the First Edition) and DAB radio, catches your eye as you get settled in the Stonic’s airy interior whilst it’s bright screen is simple and easy to use. Rather cleverly and in another nod to the more tech savvy out there, Kia have included both Android Auto and iOS-CarPlay allowing you access to your smartphone’s Sat Nav, music, apps and most helpfully, voice control. For me, the usefulness of the system is easily demonstrated when out and about on the roads of this green and pleasant land of ours by pressing the dedicated voice control button on the steering wheel. Need directions? Ask the car and off you go, screen already showing the dedicated navigation map. Fancy a tune from your music app? Ask the car and enjoy? Want an audiobook? Just ask. The possibilities are endless. All you need is to connect your phone through the USB and that’s pretty much it. Excellent.
What else? Well there’s Bluetooth® with Music Streaming giving you hands-free access to your phone and selected functions, a 3.5 inch Supervision Monochrome Instrument Cluster Between the speedometer and tachometer which also displays audio information, Aux in & USB front charger that lets you charge mobile phones and other devices whilst audio accessories can be connected via a 3.5 mm (analog) jack and don’t tell the children but there’s also a rear USB charging port for them as well.
It’s simple enough to get comfortable in the Stonic as there’s more than enough adjustment on offer from the seat and steering which means that when ready you can prepare to enjoy the driving experience on offer. Set the air control to just the right temperature and get ready to enjoy the car’s clever 1.0 T-GDi ISG 3-cylinder engine as you go about your daily business.
118bhp @ 6000rpm may not sound like much, it certainly isn’t but it’s bang on the money when comparable power plants are glanced upon during those rare moments of contemplation that we all treasure. There’s also the small matter of 0-60 in 9.9s and a largely irrelevant top speed on offer of 114mph and all whilst offering up to a claimed 51.4mpg. But the numbers are not the real story here as it’s the driving experience on offer that is surely the most important aspect of car ownership on the crowded roads of this green and pleasant of ours.
The Stonic belies it’s size to produce a stable and comfortable ride at motorway speeds suffering none of the fidgety nature that so often afflicts a smaller car at speed, in-fact it produces a feeling amongst driver and passenger more akin to cars in the class above. With suspension that cossets on longer journeys there must surely be a payoff when bends appear up on the horizon. At least you’d think so wouldn’t you? And there we have the cleverness of the Stonic in one, when the going gets twisty the Kia doesn’t shy away and shrink into the background as, like it’s striking looks, the Stonic puts on a proper show.
Partly that’s due to the excellent 6 speed manual transmission that allows you to easily pick the right gear for the speed and corner arriving upon the horizon and partly it’s due to the easily accessible 126 ft/lb torque available from 1500-4000rpm. A spread of power such as this means that you can concentrate on getting the bends just right if the mood takes you, trusting the Stonic’s sporty nature and feedback laced steering to guide you from apex to apex without incident.
But let’s not forget the Stonic’s inbuilt Safety features such as the Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) which works in tandem with the motor-driven power steering to help ensure that the Stonic remains stable when simultaneously braking and cornering. There’s also a very clever Torque Vectoring System (TVS) an additional function of the integrated electronic stability control system, meaning that the Kia Is able to maintain a higher degree of handling stability and security when cornering, as well as helping to reduce understeer during harder cornering. Excellent news indeed, especially when you consider that both systems work with the driver to maintain control in such a way that you don’t even notice that they are there at all.
From £16,815, including Kia’s industry leading 7 year warranty, you’re getting a stylish urban SUV that offers something different from the crowd. You’ve got that subtly reworked, yet instantly recognisable Tiger grille, stylish bodywork and strong engine. It’s comfortable when need be, packed full of current technology and economical as well. If you’re in the market for an urban crossover, the Stonic’s bang on the money.
Where will you go?