Kia Stonic review
The Kia Stonic is a decent small crossover, but its rivals have it beaten for style, space and efficiency
Over the years, Kia has built a reputation for producing decent SUVs and crossovers, but the Kia Stonic is something different. While its bigger brothers like the Sorento and Sportage deliver practicality and some off-road ability, the Stonic is attempting to tap into the small crossover market where style matters most.
As a result, the Kia Stonic features a sportier look, although compared to some models in the class, it's still fairly restrained. There's no all-wheel-drive version, but the raised ride height at least means you benefit from a higher driving position.
About the Kia Stonic
The Stonic comes in a single five-door body style, and while the engine range used to comprise of two petrols and a diesel, a limited 2020 facelift saw various options removed until only one remained. Every Stonic now features a three-cylinder 1.0 T-GDi petrol engine, which is its standard form produces 99bhp, while the 48V mild-hybrid assisted version pumps out 118bhp.
Which engine you get in the Stonic depends on the trim level you go for, but both units are offered with a choice of six-speed manual or dual-clutch auto transmissions.
Prices start from more than £21,000 and top out at close to £26,00. There was a limited edition Quantum model available for a time, but there are now four trim levels to choose from: 2, GT-Line, 3 and GT-Line S. The entry-level Stonic 2 comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, projector headlamps with LED running lights, an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus cruise control, air con, rear parking sensors and Forward Collision Avoidance.
GT- Line gets 17-inch alloys, privacy glass, LED headlamps, electric folding mirrors and privacy glass, plus navigation, a reversing camera, auto air con and a black cloth and faux leather interior. 3 adds faux leather upholstery, a drive mode selector (auto only) and the mild-hybrid powertrain, while the GT-Line S brings two-tone paint, heated front seats, smart cruise control, blind spot collision warning and front parking sensors.
Rivals for the Stonic kick off very close to home, because the Hyundai Bayon also shares its platform with a supermini (the Hyundai i20 in its case) and is available exclusively with petrol power, but comes in a more adventurous shape compared to the Kia.
Elsewhere, the Nissan Juke is the founder of the small crossover class, while other rivals for the Stonic include the Ford Puma, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Citroen C3 Aircross, SEAT Arona and Toyota Yaris Cross. For a leftfield choice, there's the Suzuki Ignis high-riding supermini, or you could go for the Dacia Duster, which offers rugged simplicity and more space for a lower price.
The Kia Stonic is looking to pinch customers from the likes of the Nissan Juke and Citroen C3 Aircross, but it has its work cut out to make a real impact. It's based on a shared platform with the (now discontinued) Kia Rio supermini, but the oddly-named Stonic is only an average performer – so while it’s perfectly adequate in all areas, it’s truly compelling in none.
That’s potentially a problem when there are so many more characterful competitors on the market. All is not lost, however, as the Stonic is good to drive and that famous Kia seven-year warranty is hard to ignore.
Engines, performance and drive
Kia engineers have re-tuned the Kia Rio’s rather average MacPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear axle suspension set-up to handle the Stonic’s higher centre of gravity. In doing so, they’ve also created a car that feels more agile, is relatively roll-free and handles in a composed and tidy fashion. The steering is light, if lacking in feel, and the gearchange is light and slick.
While the Stonic has enough grip, it never quite feels settled on the move. The suspension fidgets around, and the damping over aggressive bumps is not as smooth as some rivals. The Kia isn’t as comfortable or as relaxing on the motorway as some of its competitors either. There’s not much roll, and you can carry a good amount of speed through corners, but the Stonic never feels fun in the way a Ford Puma does. Neither does it inspire as much confidence, as this unsettled edge undermines much of the car’s other, acceptable dynamic qualities.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
Performance was never startling from any of the formerly available engines, and the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is a big improvement on what went before.
The downsized turbo unit makes 99bhp or 118bhp according to your choice, and delivers its power without too much noise and fuss. It's a little rattly at idle, but it pulls smoothly and revs well. Once you’re using more revs on the move it’s refined, too, and quiet at a cruise.
You’ll need to rev it quite aggressively to access the performance, but with maximum torque delivered from 1,500rpm, the engine responds well to everyday driving demands. The 0-60mph time of 10.4 seconds for the 118bhp unit is not too shabby, and top speed is 115mph. The 99bhp engine gets to 60mph in 11.7 seconds.
The now discontinued 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine was bigger but less powerful. With just 98bhp and only 133Nm of torque on tap, it feels more sluggish too. The 0-60mph dash takes 12.2 seconds, and the top speed is capped at 107mph.
If you’re looking for a diesel powered Stonic on the used market, the 1.6 CRDi model offers 108bhp and 260Nm, which is enough for a 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds and 112mph, but we feel the 1.0 T-GDi petrol is better suited to most drivers’ needs.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Whichever model you choose, there isn’t a Kia Stonic that’s going to cost a lot to run – the 1.0-litre turbo petrol under the small SUV’s will achieve up to 50.4mpg on official figures, though admittedly, that’s some way off the 67.3mpg that Kia used to claim for the 1.6 CRDi diesel.
The old 1.4-litre petrol comes in at 51.4mpg, and while the Stonic’s efficiency figures have always been decent (stop-start is standard across the range), they are by no means the best in class. For example, you should be able to eke more miles out of equivalent versions of both the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008.
For company car drivers, the Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rates are similar for all versions of the Stonic, thanks to reasonably low CO2 emissions starting from 125g/km. All models attract the same standard rate VED road tax of £180 per year.
The relatively pedestrian performance of the Kia Stonic means it doesn’t get whacked with outrageous insurance premiums. Ratings range from groups 9 to 11 for the small Korean SUV, which is similar to the Renault Captur.
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The old days of disastrous depreciation seem to be behind Kia. Our expert data suggests the Stonic will retain around 50 per cent of its original value after three years and 36,000 miles of motoring, which is a solid performance, but not as impressive as the Ford Puma that is predicted to keep an average of 55 per cent over the same period.
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Interior, design and technology
The Kia Stonic is unashamedly setting its sights on buyers who want a small SUV with a bit of style and panache, but it’s not as characterful as some in the sector, such as the Hyundai Bayon or Ford Puma. If you don’t want a car that’s too ostentatious, you might think that’s a good thing.
The Stonic isn’t frumpy or dowdy though, especially in brighter colours and with the two-tone roof treatment that’s available on higher-spec models. The crossover shares it’s ‘Tiger nose’ grille design and swept-back headlamps with its Rio stablemate, but in-keeping with its SUV pretensions the bodywork is more muscular and beefy. Black plastic sill guards and wheelarch trims, along with standard-fit roof rails, all help create a slightly more adventurous look when contrasted with bright paint.
Inside, the Stonic benefits from a functional and attractive design, as well as impressive fit and finish for this class. However, although the fascia appears extremely well manufactured and impeccably screwed together, Kia has gone heavy with hard and brittle-looking black and grey plastics, and we’d like a bit more attention paid to lavishing the interior with more soft-touch materials. Sadly, you can no longer add colour-coded interior packs to the Stonic. These added your choice of grey, bronze, orange or green trim highlights, and definitely gave the cabin ambience a bit of a lift.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Kia’s eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is one of the best on the market at this price, and it trumps some rivals' set-up's for usability and clarity. The graphics are a similar resolution (although they could be sharper still), and with app icons that mean the layout works like a smartphone, it’s easy to use.
When it comes to smartphone connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard-fit, and gives buyers an alternative option for nav if you’re not keen on the default nav set-up. On top of this, connected services with TomTom live traffic for the built-in nav, a reversing camera, Bluetooth and a six-speaker stereo are all included in the price. Given how much the Kia costs, you’d expect nothing less.
The unit is positioned higher up on the dash than the SEAT Arona or Citroen C3 Aircross’s, so it’s easier to glance across at guidance instruction, while the layout of the menus means it’s easy to use on the move.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
We’ve already discussed the shortcomings in the Stonic’s ride quality, which will particularly affect drivers using urban and minor roads. Another area where the Stonic may fail to meet the desires of its potential owners is the seat height. Lots of buyers look to SUV-type vehicles for a more reassuring and commanding driving position, yet the seats in the Stonic are set relatively low compared to most of its rivals. That said, if you prefer a sportier driving position, this car could fit the bill.
There are lots of practical touches when it comes to cabin storage though. You get big door pockets up front, a pair of cup-holders and a seven-litre glovebox, as well as useful storage built into the central armrest and console. There are cup-holders for the kids’ water bottles in the back, a rear USB charging point and shopping hooks in the boot, too.
Although it shares the Kia Rio’s platform, the Stonic is a little bigger all round thanks to bigger overhangs and wider track. The wheelbase is standard Rio though, and there’s only the one five-door body-style.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
There’s enough extra space in the Stonic for it to feel noticeably bigger than the Rio, and the taller body style means headroom for rear seat passengers is improved too. However, the wheelbase constraints mean there’s no more rear seat legroom than in the (now discontinued) Rio hatch, which means it’s adequate but not luxurious: compared to some small crossover rivals it feels more cramped – and the dark cabin doesn’t help.
You get 352 litres of boot space in the Stonic, which is a little more than the Kia Rio hatchback, but significantly less than some of the Stonic’s larger rivals. For instance, the Peugeot 2008 has 410 litres, and you can have up to 455 litres in the Renault Captur with the rear seats pushed forward.
With the seats folded, you can get a maximum of 1,155 litres and a flat load floor, but again the rivals do better. At least the Stonic has a wide-opening tailgate so access is easy, but there’s a pronounced loading lip, although it's no worse than you'll find in a SEAT Arona.
Reliability and Safety
Independent crash tester Euro NCAP hasn't actually tested the Stonic, but it's given it a score based on the mechanically identical Rio supermini. And it has awarded the Stonic two different star ratings, because not all of Kia's safety kit is fitted as standard. The basic model has a three-star score, but adding the Safety Pack boosts this to five stars.
However, we think you can be pretty confident the Stonic will perform in similarly impressive fashion from a passive safety/structural perspective. Six airbags, Isofix rear seat mountings, stability control and hill-start assistance are fitted as standard.
The Kia Stonic managed to finish 57th on our list of the best cars to own - based on owner feedback from our 2023 Driver Power satisfaction survey, while Kia itself came sixth in the best manufacturers rankings - down from third the previous year.
The Kia seven-year warranty is unbeatable, providing 100,000 miles of cover on all the manufacturer’s new cars. It’s undoubtedly part of the Kia brand appeal, and has also helped boost second-hand values.
Servicing your Kia Stonic won’t break the bank, as you can get service plans for the small Korean SUV starting from £294. If you’re planning to keep the car longer, Kia offers a five-year plan that covers you for five years of servicing assuming you cover only average mileage. Higher mileage drivers will need to service their Stonic at 10,000-mile and 20,000-mile intervals for petrol and diesel models respectively.
For an alternative review of the Kia Stonic, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...