Looks like an off-roader, drives like a sporty hatchback
- Space for four adults
- Peppy handling
- Practical boot
- Low running costs
- Kia warranty and reliability
- Firm ride
- Engines lack character
- Cheap cabin materials
- Lacks some common kit
- Myriad rivals in sector
Given the tall stance, chunky wheel arches and rear skidplate, you’d be forgiven for assuming the Kia Stonic SUV is a tough off-roader.
So many rivals…
It isn’t, but then neither are any of its competitors, which are many and varied. Its main competition is from the Peugeot 2008, SEAT Arona, Citroen C3 Aircross, Mazda CX-3 and Renault Captur, but other cars it goes up against include the hugely popular Nissan Juke and Crossland X, and even the Ford EcoSport. Then there’s the VW T-Roc and its premium positioning to contend with, and of course sister company Hyundai’s Kona.
So, is the Kia Stonic any good?
First impressions left us a little surprised. Despite how it looks, the Stonic is far sportier than you’d imagine, with a firm ride and engaging handling instead of the spongy, rolly-polly character we were expecting.
Its engines aren’t all that athletic, however – they’re more geared towards keeping running costs down. The range starts with a lowly 1.4-litre petrol with just 98bhp. Your sole diesel option is a 1.6-litre with 108bhp but crucially better claimed fuel economy and CO2 output (for lower tax).
The fastest Stonic uses a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine and while this is our favourite (find out why in the Performance section), it also boasts very competitive costs.
The trim structure couldn’t be simpler, with just 2 and First Edition to choose from.
While Kia is expecting the 2 with a 1.0-litre engine to be most popular, we’d suggest the added kit and personalisation on a First Edition makes it a worthwhile upgrade.
A minor fly in the ointment here is that it lacks some of the latest safety kit, and that means it won’t score a perfect five when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
You do get Kia's seven-year warranty, however, along with fixed-price servicing at a numerous dealerships nationwide.
The Parkers Verdict
The Stonic is a car that you’re either going to like or loathe. Its styling and personalization options are there to tempt buyers into something a little different, and judging on the success of the Nissan Juke we’d say the Korean firm probably does have a hit on its hands.
We prefer it to that car, although it’s a far closer fight with some other rivals such as the 2008 and Captur.