It shouldn't come as a surprise - like most other manufacturers - Kia has

bolstered its SUV lineup by adding a smaller model that sits below the larger

Sportage and Sorento, and in true Kia style it's been inventive with its name.

It's called the Stonic. Which is a mixture of speedy and tonic, and no

that's not the kind that you mix with gin. It's actually the first and last

notes in the musical scale - which apparently means that it is agile and a

fresh addition to the SUV stable. So does Kia's new smallest SUV have what it

takes to steal sales from its mainstream rivals? In this review we’ll answer that

question, as well as tell you what it's like to drive, and how roomy it is inside!

If at the end of this review you're tempted to buy a Stonic, head to our New

Car Deals section and find out how much money we can save you. Before that though

let's see what this is like to drive.

The one-litre petrol engine we've got here

is our pick of the bunch, it's fitted with a turbocharger, which makes it a lot

faster than the larger 1.4 petrol and is just as good at lowdown revs as the

1.6 diesel. That makes it just as good around town as it is on the motorway, and

it's better on acceleration than some of its rivals including Renault Captur and

Suzuki Vitara. It handles well too, and although the steering isn't the most

communicative, it does respond quite well to steering inputs, and there seems to be

plenty of grip through the corners. The downside for this is that the

Stonic isn't as comfortable as rivals such as the Arona and Captur.

Its ride is fairly hard over uneven surfaces, in addition to this all Stonics suffer with

wind and road noise when traveling at motorway speeds, and if you get the

engines into quite high revs…

They do get a bit vocal. And not in a good way.

Unusually for an SUV, the seats are quite low down, so if it's a lofty driving

position that you're after, you may prefer one of its rivals. That said, to get

comfortable, there is plenty of adjustment in the seat and the steering

wheel adjusts for rake and reach. Visibility is excellent thanks to the

deep windows, the only criticism is that the far most pillar is quite thick.

However you do get parking sensors as standard to help with parking. In terms

of material quality, it does feel very well put together. But you don't need to

go too far to find hard, scratchy plastics, although that's not unusual for the

small SUV market.

Perched high up on the dashboard of every Stonic

is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes a DAB radio, bluetooth

connectivity, and smartphone mirroring. Go for a first edition car and you'll also

get a built-in sat-nav, in any case this system has clear icons and is easy to

use. Though it can be a little bit slow to respond. The Stonic is based on the

small hatchback - Rio - just like the Renault Captur is based on the Clio and

the SEAT Arona is based on the Ibiza. So there's enough room for a couple of

six-footers up front, and thankfully is wide enough so that you're not really

rubbing elbows with your passenger. Storage is pretty good there's a deep

pocket here, and two cupholders here, door bin is big enough for this fairly large

bottle of water, and there's more storage here

with the USB and auxiliary in. And a decent sized glovebox.

Step into these rear seats and you'll find even taller passengers won't

complain about headroom. However if you're sitting behind somebody who is

six foot, which is not me at five foot four and a half, you might find that leg

room is a little compromised. Not unusually in this class, if you do sit

three abreast then you will find it is a little bit squishy, and in terms of

storage and practicality back here, we've got a map pocket there and there is a

small pocket in the door bin but it's not really big enough for my bottle of

water so I'll have to hold it instead!

There's not much to get excited about with the boot space either, it's smaller

than both the Nissan Juke and Citroen C3 Aircross and it doesn't come with the

versatility of a sliding rear bench like you can spec with the Citroen. It does

however, have split folding rear seats for those occasional trips to the tip.

We’ve already revealed the 1 litre turbocharged petrol engine is our

favourite and the fact it managed 41 mpg in our real world True MPG tests only adds

to this appeal. There's no bargain basement entry level Stonic version,

but you can keep cost down by picking the cheapest ‘2’ trim level. You won't

feel too shortchanged either, because it comes with automatic lights and wipers,

cruise control, air conditioning, and rear parking sensors. 

We’d splash out on the ADAP

safety pack too, which gets you automatic emergency braking, lane

departure warning, and high-beam assist for the lights. If you're looking for a

small SUV that's a little left field of the mainstream choices, then the Stonic

is a good place to start. 

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