Sounds like KIA is upping its game… a lot. Like its sister company, which launched the Kona in 1.6 litre and three cylinder 1.0 guise, KIA’s B-segment Stonic two-box checks some very attractive boxes.
Peek-a-boo i see you...
KIA makes it no secret that the Stonic is built to a price, but even at first glance, we could tell that the Korean car is well-screwed together.
Penned by the man behind KIA’s “Tiger Nose” styling, Peter Schreyer, the Stonic is refreshing a small crossover to look at. From flared wheel arches with decorative wheel guards, and sculpted lower door skin, to an expressive and aggressive face, identifiable immediately as a KIA.
And while there is no panel that is left untouched from well-thought through pen strokes, its styling does not come across as busy, but in-fact one which is well-balanced.
While the SX trim model gets sunroof as standard and a lovely set of 17” machine-finished alloy rims, KIA has also made available, 29 different colour choices for roof panels (sans the sunroof), colours which are mirrored in its interior trim… very pretty.
As lower-range cars go, there is always a little bit of cheapness you will encounter, and we did with the Stonic, however not all of them in the places we would have been in normal physical contact with; apart from the door cards which in part are hard plastic mouldings. The top of the dash is also made of the same hard and hollow plastic, and while we were surrounded by cheapness, somehow, parts of the interior which would be in constant contact were of more-than-acceptable quality, and we must say, very well put together.
The infotainment system is supported by a 7” touchscreen display, and offers Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. We also liked that under the simple and easy to use air-conditioning controls, there is a two-tiered compartment, ideal a place for placing your phone to charge.
In the driver’s seat, information is dished out via two large analogue dials and a 3.5” TFT LCD instrument cluster. The multi-function steering is a familiar sight in modern KIA cars, with just about all the available car functions offered on both the left and right spokes. The horn button though is rather hard to press, and would require some effort. Not the best thing if you need to warn someone encroaching into your lane. Little touches like some stylish metal foot pedals also make it into the SX trim model.
Space in the front is decent for even larger-sized adults without them worrying about rubbing shoulders.
At the rear, legroom is slightly limited, after all the wheelbase is only 2,580mm. Average height adults will be able to sit in relative comfort for short or medium distance journeys, and we would not think of fitting in a fifth passenger.
Cargo room is respectable at 352 litres, and is expandable with a two-step boot floor. Rear seats fold flat in 60:40 style. We also like that KIA had included a cargo cover for safer stowage of items. Strangely enough the Kona sister car does not include this.
The Stonic utilises a 1.0 turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, good for 120ps and 171Nm. Maximum torque is available from a very low 1,500rpm, and keeps it at its peak till 4,000rpm. A quality we loved in the car, especially that the engine is mated to their very own 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, which provides power transfer to the front wheels, without loss of boost pressure; meaning that you will almost always have the engine producing its best at most speeds. While its 0-100km/h timing at 10.6 seconds is nothing to shout about, we like how willing to pull that little 3-cylinder unit is.
Flick the Stonic into a bend, and you will find its ability to cut into a bend rather impressive, thanks to the car’s Torque Vectoring and corner braking control, part of the Vehicle Stability management system (VSM). Brakes are best said to be adequate, though they could do with a little more boosting.
While its short wheelbase will mean that the Stonic will not be happy over multiple humps in car parks, we like that plenty of road noise has been kept out of the cabin, part of this is attributed to KIA’s use of structural adhesive, which reduces vibration and harshness.
As a daily driver, the Stonic is quite the lovely little car to live with. Cheerful, a wonderful performer, easy to steer and park too, thanks to very good all-round visibility, and its rear parking assist system with rear view camera.
On the safety front, KIA has also included six airbags, and ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the rear seats, though i doubt that it will be easy to squeeze a child seat at the rear without compromising occupants up in the front. They have however made it easy to disarm the front airbag with the use of the key, for safe mounting in the front seat… very nice.
The Stonic now retails for $74,999* for the EX model and $79,999* for the SX. Which is quite an attractive buy if you are looking for a smaller SUV. Like Boomz man…
*Prices accurate as at 25 January 2019