Kia Stonic M-Hybrid SX 1.0 T Review
Mild Bettering

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
1 Sep 2021
 

With short overhangs, what is impressive is how well the Stonic hugs the bends, and you can sense that the small SUV loves a spirited drive. 

With electrification becoming the biggest buzzword, we are beginning to see more vehicles being offered with some form of electrification. While it will be a while before EVs will become a mainstream thing, there are many merits for electrifying an ICE vehicle. A small battery means less weight, and the gains can be especially felt in an urban environment.

KIA’s entry SUV, the Stonic, now receives the Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) treatment, and all this for a base $3,000 more than the non-MHEV model. 

Since its launch, there have been very small styling changes, namely in the styling of the front foglamp assembly. Overall, the KIA Stonic is a pretty-small and pretty small SUV in a somewhat crowded market segment.

Inside

There is no escaping that the interior of the Stonic is built to a price. But what I do like is that KIA ensured that crucial touchpoints are padded, and they do feel as good as cars in the class above. Switchgear is simple and functional, and I feel that enough attention has been paid to their quality.

Since its launch, the Stonic’s 7” touchscreen has now been upgraded to an 8” screen, and the physical menu buttons have been moved to the base of the screen. The new arrangement is neater, and it does visually lift the interior a little. For an entry-level car, it is quite impressive that KIA had included wireless connectivity for both Apple and Android devices. The analogue instrument cluster is easy to read with its large dials, and the small digital screen in the middle, offers flexibility in displaying various drive information.

With its boxy design, the Stonic accommodates four adults well, and the 352 litre boot is sufficient. There is however, a toll boot lip to deal with, which might make it difficult to load heavier items. The MHEV Stonic also does away with the nifty double-floored boot, since the small hybrid battery is stored within.

The Drive

The 1.0 3-cylinder turbocharged engine gets a boost from a 48V mild-hybrid system. Power remains at 118hp, while torque is bumped to 200Nm. The mild-hybrid drivetrain makes a notable difference in how the Stonic takes off from the lights, and you can quite easily tell when the electric drive is helping the engine along the way. Even for a light turbocharged engine, this is especially important, since there is always that little bit of lag that blunts the driving performance from light-to-light. The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission does a good job of shuffling through gears, without sign of power loss. While the Stonic’s overall performance sees quite a remarkable improvement, its century sprint time is lowered by a tiny margin of 0.2 seconds to 10.4 seconds.

With short overhangs, what is impressive is how well the Stonic hugs the bends, and you can sense that the small SUV loves a spirited drive. Being an entry model, the Stonic’s interior is not heavily insulated, so you will always experience road rumble, especially on rougher surfaces. 

A major issue that I face though, is that there are times where the mild-hybrid system cannot seem to decide if it should help the car along, or should it shut off. This results in a jerky drive in certain city and highway situations. Also, if you release the throttle while hoping to glide a little, the Stonic MHEV’s battery regeneration will kick in within two seconds, and you will find yourself slowing down - often unnecessarily. KIA claims that the Stonic does 21.3km/l, however, we managed 15.1km/l with a heavier foot, and going a little easier on the throttle, 17.1km/l, which is still quite good.

Verdict

The KIA Stonic is cheap (in today’s context), cheerful and well-equipped. The mild-hybrid system adds more life and at the same time, improves fuel economy.

There are a few fuel-sipping cars that buyers can also consider, like the 1.2 litre Suzuki Swift and more costly Toyota Yaris Cross, both which have electric assistance. The SEAT Arona has amazing fuel efficiency with its 1.0 turbocharged 3-cyl, while the Hyundai Venue while more conventional, offers a smooth drive, thanks to its very good CVT transmission.

In Summary

We Like

Fuel-sipping powertrain. Handles well. Good passenger accommodation for its size. Attractive styling.

We Don't

Electric drive system could be better refined. Not enough insulation.

Verdict

Good attempt by KIA. A well-equipped small SUV that is economical to run.

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SGD 93,999 (19 Aug 2021)

This car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine

Engine Capacity 998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 3
Power 118bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 2000rpm

Performance

Acceleration 10.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 185 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 21.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed DCT
Drive Type FF

Measurements

Body Type SUV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4140 x 1760 x 1485) mm
Wheelbase 2580 mm
Turning Circle 10.4 metres
Boot Capacity 352 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L

Brakes