KIA Style For Life

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Style For Life


The speed at which #Kia are introducing new SUV’s to the market it’s to be hoped the current insatiable appetite for these chunky hatchbacks continues for the foreseeable future. From their flagship Sorento 4x4, the largest in the Kia range, the at times now a tad stodgy Sportage, the Niro that I regard as one of the best hybrids around to the new #Stonic, there’s a Kia SUV for everyone and anyone. Equally, as someone creaking towards the end of middle age, there’s the possibility that your humble correspondent could, from Kia’s marketing demographics perspective, be considered way too old to contemplate even driving a Stonic.


Aimed fairly and squarely at the younger, lifestyle driven consumer within the 25 to 35 year old range desperate to make some form of statement, Kia’s new Stonic perfectly encapsulates all that these millennials are looking for. If you don’t believe me, take a closer look at the TV ads. However, the Stonic has a far wider reaching appeal than even Kia might actually have given their new compact hatchback. Choose you colour scheme wisely and the Stonic takes on a far more upmarket appearance and appeal.


Taken back to basics, the Stonic based on Kia’s Rio super mini is a curvaceous small weight saving steel body hatchback. Mounted on subframe supported MacPherson Struts and coil front suspension with a semi independent torsion beam to the rear which in turn sits on striking 17” alloys and 205/55 tyres and Kia’s lightweight steel platform. The SUV connection comes in the fact the compact body has a suspension lift. Add in a raised bonnet line that flows into higher cut arches, prominent side protection mouldings, pronounced roof bars, sculpted sides, contrasting faux rear skid plate and deep front splitter.


And whilst maintaining Kia’s familiar ‘Tiger Nose’ grille and bi-function projector headlights, the now smooth insert and lower insert now house the various forward facing detectors and radars for amongst other things as the autonomous emergency braking.


Move into the cabin and the heavy charcoal trim of the bolstered seats incorporate the external two-tone colours that also repeat along the dash and around the central, multi-function touchscreen surround. Extremely effective seats the thick rimmed leather D-wheel is also gently warmed, the various positions of the adjustable steering column maintaining a full, uninterrupted view of the analogue instruments and rapid scroll onboard readouts. Kia has kept controls to an effective minimum, the location and use sensibly thought out to speed up their use.


In the main the five passenger interior offers ample and practical stowage and finished off with soft texture surfaces. The only let down are the hard plastic door cards that whilst easy to keep clean are at odds with the rest of the interior trim levels. Space wise, with the rear seats upright there’s a reasonable generous 352 litres of cargo space in the twin floor boot expanding to 1,155 litres with the seats folded. Add in 70kg of roof capacity and between 1,000kg and 1,110kg of towing ability dependant on engine size, all of which makes the Stonic a far more versatile hatchback than an initial glance might indicate.


Under the domed bonnet prospective buyers have three powerplants to choose from. The two petrols units are the 1-litre 118hp 3-cylinder petrol and 98hp 4-cylinder 1.4-litrepetrol. The third option and the one under review is the free revving 1.6-litre 4-cylinder diesel that develops 108hp and 260Nm of torque. Irrespective of the engine choice, all three are mated to a slick, reasonably short throw 6-speed manual transmission.


Hitting 60mph in a reasonably relaxed 10.9 seconds and onwards to 112mph, the diesel powered Stonic is respectable bearing in mind most buyers won’t overly take performance figures into account. Covering a total of 426 miles that consisted of motorway, town and some of the infamously testing North Wales B-roads, the Stonic returned a creditable average consumption of 45.8mpg with a steady throttle best of 56mpg. In real time terms this means you should safely expect well in excess of 400 miles between 45 litre refills. Most of this though becomes academic when you’re behind the 5.2 meter turning circle wheel of the Stonic.


One of the most composed small cars I’ve driven for quite a while, the all round vision is good, everything falls quickly to hand, the power steering is nicely weighted whilst still providing ample feedback whilst the overall handling once again exceeds expectations. Given the Stonic is intended as a younger person’s mode of transport, few if any of the modern thinking, torn knee denim dressers will ever discover the Stonic’s truly entertaining capabilities. Even with the enhanced ride height, body roll is more than acceptable, the handling sharp, the vented front solid rear ABS disc brakes rapid to respond yet still progressive, the suspension refined whilst even extreme provocation results in only the mildest understeer.


The overall feel is one of being firmly planted to the road irrespective of conditions. And as if set up to confirm this statement, a steep uphill climb through four inches of snow saw myself and the Stonic calmly overtake one of Germany’s prestige 4x4’s, said Teutonic machinery in climatic disarray, Kia’s Stonic hardly registering the antisocial sub-zero conditions.

All carrying Kia’s legendary 7-Year Warranty, prices start at £16,295 for the entry level 1.4 ‘2’ rising to £21,040 for the limited edition ‘First’ 1.6 CRDi on test. A car that genuinely exceeded initial expectations, the Stonic is a compact that’s capable of being all things to all buyers whilst being a source of entertainment to those prepared to go and explore.



By; Mark Stone