- The 1.0 is our pick of the engines we’ve tried
- Diesel to be avoided – it’s too noisy and gruff
- Running costs take precedence over performance
The Kia Stonic gets a range of three engines - two petrols and one diesel.
Parkers Pick: 1.0-litre T-GDI turbo petrol engine
A small 1.0-litre petrol engine benefits from a turbocharger, which means it’s more powerful than the 1.4-litre also on offer, with 120hp and 171Nm of torque. This will facilitate a 0-62mph sprint in 9.9 seconds and a heady 115mph top speed.
This is our pick of the engines on offer, and drives far better than the diesel. It isn’t perfect, with a somewhat gruff nature below 2,500rpm until the turbocharger starts to come into effect.
Once going it’s more than capable of propelling the Stonic to motorway speeds and overtaking.
We’d avoid: CRDi 1.6-litre diesel
The sole diesel option is a 1.6-litre with 110hp and 260Nm. This one smokes to 62mph from a standstill in 10.9 seconds and will eventually hit 112mph. We found the diesel option punchy, as you’d expect with that amount of torque, but not particularly interesting or enjoyable to drive. It doesn’t suit the Stonic’s character anywhere near as well as the 1.0, and it’s significantly noisier too.
The other petrol: 1.4 MPI
Available exclusively on entry-level 2 models, the first is a 1.4-litre petrol with 100hp and 133Nm of torque, enabling an amble from 0-62mph in a leisurely 12.2 seconds. Top speed is 107mph.
The 1.4 petrol gets a five-speed manual gearbox, while the other two get a six-speed manual ‘box that works well. The first four gears are quite tightly packed in, while fifth and sixth seem a more spread out.
At launch there’s no automatic, but a seven-speed twin-clutch DCT will follow in 2018 alongside a lower-powered 100hp 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol engine.
- A strangely sporty experience
- Engaging and fun to drive
- Ride quality does suffer
It’s fair to say we’re surprised by the Stonic’s handling. It’s based on the Rio hatchback, but rides 42mm higher, so we were expecting the associated extra body movement to be at the detriment of its handling.
However, Kia has done a lot of work under the skin of the Stonic and it handles very well indeed. The steering is very sharp and responsive, which helps you to feel a part of the driving experience, and the cornering is balanced and predictable. However, this does have an impact on comfort, which we’ll cover a little further on.
There’s no automatic parking system and while this is a compact car, its turning circle isn’t exactly small compared with some rivals, which can mean the driver has to work to get it into a space. Thankfully the high driving position helps you to see the extremities of the car well enough.
The Stonic’s interior is an altogether friendly and approachable place to be, albeit at its best with the colourful personalisation Kia expects its customers will indulge in.
On first appearances it’s also finished in some higher-quality materials than you’d expect at this sort of price, but a tap and a scratch highlights the fact that the plastics employed are from the cheaper end of the parts bin.
Driver’s won’t struggle to find a good driving position. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable and you can move the steering wheel up, down and forward and back, unlike in the Nissan Juke and some other rivals.
It may be a high-riding SUV-type car, but the Stonic isn’t as comfortable as we were expecting on the initial launch in Germany and we suspect it’ll suffer more in the UK with our poor-quality roads.
Kia admits to tuning the suspension so it’s more akin to a hatchback than a crossover, and we can think of some performance cars that have a more compliant ride.
The cabin itself is nicely insulated against wind noise, but the diesel engine clatters noisily – the 1.0-litre petrol is almost silent until you rev it, however.
There’s a bit more road noise from the 17-inch alloys than we were expecting too, and the seats could do with a bit more support if you want to make use of the incongruously engaging handling.