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Road Test: Kia Stonic

By / 6 days ago / Road Tests / No Comments

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The Stonic gives Kia a conventional sub-Sportage crossover, at last, explains Alex Grant.

SECTOR Crossover   PRICE £16,295-£20,495   FUEL 51.4mpg-67.3mpg   CO2 109-125g/km

Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic

When you consider how successful the Sportage has been for Kia – not only in terms of outright sales but also for brand exposure – the gap in the line-up for a smaller crossover has taken a while to fill. That’s something the Stonic will rectify.

This is a step into the conventional; a better fit for customers’ design expectations than the square peg in a crossover-shaped hole that is the Soul, and without the cost of the hybrid system in the clever but high-tech Niro. It’s an important niche to fill, one expected to account for around 100,000 sales per year across Europe during its lifetime, without cannibalising volume from other models, of which around 10% will come to the UK.

The foundations are good; the platform is shared with the new Rio, but it’s longer, taller and offers 42mm of extra ground clearance. It’s a handsome compact crossover, less challenging than the Sportage but with an obvious styling link at the back, while there’s a hint of Soul in the headlights. Chunky shoulderlines, relatively large wheels and plenty of bold colour options, with the ability to spec a contrasting roof, bode well in a segment where styling is a priority.

In the UK, crossover demand across fleet and retail customers tends to be weighted towards the top of the range. Kia will offer two trim levels here – 2 and First Edition – with three engine options, none of which include four-wheel drive, as take-up is low. All include 17-inch alloy wheels, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the latter upgraded to include TomTom navigation on the First Edition, and the entire range undercuts the entry-level Niro.

As is becoming more common, petrol and diesel versions could make sense for fleets. The 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel comes in at 109g/km, which is competitive, though it’s quite a grumbly engine in the Stonic and performance isn’t as lively as you might expect. It’s more appealing with the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, which delivers its 118bhp with more gusto and less noise. Lower pricing and 115g/km CO2 emissions mean it’s not a huge leap for drivers, though there is an 11mpg drop in fuel economy to factor into whole-life costs.

It’s a decent car to drive with either engine. European versions get a region-specific chassis setup, so it handles neatly despite the raised ride height, without resorting to overly stiff suspension or steering that’s too sensitive at high speed. The Ceed is a better motorway car, but only just.

There are some compromises for those athletic looks. Although it’s almost identical in footprint to the Soul, the Stonic offers less shoulder room for passengers in both rows, and less leg room in the back. Boot space below the load cover is almost identical, and slightly less than you’d get in a Ceed, though the Soul’s flat roof and upright tailgate give it the edge when it’s packed to the rafters.

Sales volumes should prove that’s not a huge priority in this segment, though, and the usual dual-level floor and two-piece folding bench mean there’s enough flexibility when needed. There’s still room for adults in both rows, and though there’s an abundance of hard shiny plastics dotted around, accents of colour and that large touchscreen mean it doesn’t feel drab inside, like some versions of the Rio.

This is a fast-growing segment, in part because the Stonic is one of many newcomers on the way. But, like the Sportage, this is good value, looks sharp and drives well, which should bode well for luring yet more new customers into dealerships.

Fleet fact
This segment is expected to be 10% of the European market by 2020.

Highlights

  • Lively 1.0-litre petrol turbo engine returns 56.5mpg with 115g/km CO2.
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay across the range.
  • Bold colours and contrasting roof options.

What we think
A competitive offer for a booming segment. However, automatic versions would be a worthwhile add-on to keep customers from opting into one of its many competitors.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.


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