Kia Stonic review

Category: Small SUV

The Stonic handles tidily and is well equipped but there are better small SUVs available

Red Kia Stonic front cornering
  • Red Kia Stonic front cornering
  • Kia Stonic interior dashboard
  • Red Kia Stonic boot open
  • Kia Stonic interior driver display
  • Red Kia Stonic right driving
  • Red Kia Stonic front driving
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  • Red Kia Stonic rear right driving
  • Red Kia Stonic front left static
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  • Red Kia Stonic grille detail
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  • Red Kia Stonic alloy wheel detail
  • Kia Stonic interior front seats
  • Kia Stonic interior back seats
  • Kia Stonic interior infotainment
  • Kia Stonic interior detail
  • Red Kia Stonic front cornering
  • Kia Stonic interior dashboard
  • Red Kia Stonic boot open
  • Kia Stonic interior driver display
  • Red Kia Stonic right driving
  • Red Kia Stonic front driving
  • Red Kia Stonic front right driving
  • Red Kia Stonic rear right driving
  • Red Kia Stonic front left static
  • Red Kia Stonic left static
  • Red Kia Stonic rear left static
  • Red Kia Stonic grille detail
  • Red Kia Stonic headlights detail
  • Red Kia Stonic alloy wheel detail
  • Kia Stonic interior front seats
  • Kia Stonic interior back seats
  • Kia Stonic interior infotainment
  • Kia Stonic interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Kia Stonic is the South Korean car maker's take on the small SUV style that's now so irresistible to buyers who once drove handy little hatchbacks.

The Stonic takes the bones of the now-discontinued Kia Rio hatchback and adds chunky wheels and tyres, a bit more height and tougher styling for a bit of SUV flavour. It has a straightforward engine line-up, allowing you to choose between two 1.0-litre petrols, the more powerful of which gets mild-hybrid tech to improve fuel economy.

There’s no four-wheel-drive option, but that’s by no means unusual for the class. If you're looking for some extra traction, we’d point you towards four-wheel-drive versions of the VW T-Roc.

That rival is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The Stonic also has to go head to head with the Ford Puma, Renault Captur, Skoda Kamiq and more. In other words, it has a tough fight on its tyres.

So, how does the Kia Stonic stack up against the best small SUVs? Read on to find out...

Red Kia Stonic rear cornering

Overview

The Kia Stonic handles tidily, is well equipped and gets a great warranty, but there are plenty of other areas where it doesn’t shine. Many other small SUVs offer more space in the rear seats and in the boot, and are more refined, too.

  • Punchy engines
  • Plenty of standard kit
  • Agile handling
  • Rivals have more flexible rear seats
  • Firm ride
  • Other small SUVs are more practical
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £23,760
Kia Stonic 1.0T GDi 48V 3 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The cheapest Kia Stonic engine, which is available with the entry-level 2 and GT-Line trims, is the 99bhp 1.0 T-GDi. It'll officially get from 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds (11.7 if you opt for the automatic gearbox), and although it feels a little weak at low revs, there's a fair amount of shove once you get going,

If you want a more punchy performer, you’ll appreciate the mild-hybrid assistance the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi receives from low engine speeds. It's slightly quicker from 0-62mph (10.4 seconds), and if you're tootling through town, you’ll rarely have to pass 1,500rpm. Better still, it's happy to rev away if you need a bit more oomph, and getting up to motorway speeds is no chore at all.

If you can afford it, the 118bhp engine is the one to go for, and it’s certainly gutsier than the equivalent Renault Captur. Those looking for even more performance should aim their gaze towards the Ford Puma or VW T-Roc.

Suspension and ride comfort

"Well controlled but on the firm side," is a good way to sum up the Stonic’s ride. It’s never uncomfortable, but the firmness means its wheels tend to follow little road undulations, causing the suspension to send a shimmy through the interior as they do so.

If you pass over a ridge, there’s a thump – again, it’s not overly harsh, but enough to make you notice.

At motorway speeds, the Stonic fidgets a little on asphalt that looks perfectly flat. It’s not as stiff as the Mini Countryman but you'll experience an altogether smoother ride at all speeds in the Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Roc.

Kia Stonic image
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Handling

Despite having a raised ride height, which can easily make things feel top heavy, the Stonic’s stiffer ride means that it’s actually one of the more agile small SUVs you can buy.

True, we’d stop at calling it fun, but it responds surprisingly eagerly to steering inputs and stays upright through corners that would cause the softer Citroën C3 Aircross to lean over markedly. Even if you’re mid-corner and the road suddenly becomes bumpy, the Stonic remains impressively composed and controlled.

The steering isn’t exactly feelsome, but it’s precise and well-weighted around the straight-ahead position, making it easy to stay in your lane on a motorway. The Ford Puma is much more enjoyable to drive, while if you want four-wheel drive in this class, it's available on the VW T-Roc, Suzuki Ignis and Suzuki Vitara.

Noise and vibration

Both Stonic engines are decently refined. Sure, you hear them thrumming away when you rev them, but they emit a pleasant rasp rather than an intrusive clatter. All Stonics suffer from wind and road noise at motorway speeds – if you’re after a quieter life, the T-Roc 1.5 TSI is worth a look.

The Stonic’s standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick and easy to operate, if not quite as enjoyable to use as a Puma’s. The seven-speed automatic, on the other hand, isn’t all that slick and you’ll certainly know when it’s changing through the gears.

The mild-hybrid system fitted to the T-GDi 118 makes for smooth engine restarts when the stop-start system is working, and a clever clutch system allows the car to coast when left in gear to save fuel.

It can make slowing down tricky to judge, though, because you don't know whether the regenerative braking system will cut in to charge the battery. When it does, the car slows far more quickly than at other times.

Driving overview

Strengths Strong engines; relatively good handling; slick manual gearbox 

Weaknesses Firmer ride than rivals; wind and road noise at motorway speeds

Kia Stonic interior dashboard

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The Kia Stonic’s driving position feels a little odd at first, but you quickly get used to it. You sit low down with your legs stretched out, which feels natural in a small hatchback, but might disappoint SUV fans who prefer to be higher up.

Still, there’s no doubt that you’ll find a comfortable posture because there’s standard seat-height adjustment and plenty of in-and-out steering wheel adjustment to suit drivers of most sizes. The seats themselves are comfortable – it’s just a shame that you don’t get adjustable lumbar support (even as an option) like you do in the VW T-Roc. 

There are other commendable aspects of the Stonic’s interior, such as its sliding front centre armrest and the sensible positioning of all the buttons and switches on the dashboard. Indeed, everything is placed just where you'd want it to be.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Stonic's relatively slim windscreen pillars make it pretty easy to see what’s in front of you from behind the wheel. The view backwards isn’t too bad, either – the rear pillars are a bit wide, but the rear screen is quite deep.

To make parking even easier, every Stonic comes with rear parking sensors as standard. If you go for GT-Line trim or above, you'll also get a rear-view camera, while top-spec GT-Line S adds front parking sensors. 

All Stonics get automatic headlights but you’ll need GT-Line or above if you want bright LED headlights. Likewise, if you’d like automatic windscreen wipers, you’ll have to upgrade to either 3 or GT-Line S trim.

Sat nav and infotainment

The Stonic’s infotainment system is really rather good, and compares well with the ones in rival cars. For a start, you get a sharp 8.0in touchscreen display, plus there's a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard.

That system allows you to connect your phone and use Google Maps and other apps on the infotainment screen. That's good news if you go for entry-level 2 trim because it doesn't have built-in sat nav.

The touchscreen is positioned high on the dashboard and is easy to see, with large icons that are simple to hit on the move. It’s responsive to commands, although the Seat Arona gives you menus that are easier to navigate.

Quality

The Stonic feels solidly made inside. When you press and prod the dashboard, nothing wobbles, and all the switches and buttons feel nicely damped.

There is a "but" here, though. As with many other small SUVs in this price bracket, many of the surfaces are made from unyieldingly hard plastics, including the upper door trims. That used to be the case with the Arona too, but a mid-life facelift means that car now has a more premium-feeling interior than the Stonic. 

As you might expect, premium-badge wearing rivals including the Audi Q2 have the best interiors in the class but you’ll pay more for the privilege – even the cheapest Q2 costs more than the top-spec Stonic.

Interior overview

Strengths Good visibility; intuitive infotainment system; sturdy build quality

Weaknesses Lots of hard plastics inside; low driving position will disappoint SUV fans

Red Kia Stonic boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

You won’t be short of space in the front of the Kia Stonic – there's plenty of head and leg room, even for taller occupants. Interior width is generous for a small SUV too, so the driver and front passenger won’t be clanging elbows.

It’s quite a comfortable place to be and you shouldn’t find yourself struggling for space. Even so, if having loads of space up front is important, the Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Roc are even larger.

Storage space is respectable. There's a usefully sized glovebox and a tray to store your phone in front of the gear lever, plus two cupholders and a cubbyhole under the centre armrest.

Rear space

The Stonic's rear space is below par by class standards. Head room is fine, but leg room is tight compared with that offered by the Seat Arona or the much larger Kamiq, especially if there’s someone tall sitting up front. 

What’s more, while the interior width is fine up front, it doesn’t translate to the rear, and trying to seat three adults in the back is a bit of a squeeze. 

There’s not a lot of room for odds and ends in the rear. You get a couple of small door bins and map pockets on the backs of the front seats but that's about your lot.

Seat folding and flexibility

The Stonic is average in this respect, with no height adjustment for the front passenger seat unless you opt for top-tier GT-Line S trim. That’s something that rivals including the Renault Captur and T-Roc both get as standard. 

While you get 60/40 split folding rear seats for those occasional trips to the tip, the Stonic does without the flexibility of sliding or reclining rear seats, which are offered by the Citroën C3 Aircross and the Captur.

Boot space

The Stonic’s boot is nothing to get excited about. While there’s enough space for a decent weekly shop or five carry-on suitcases, having only 352 litres of storage space means it has one of the smallest boots in the class.

That becomes more apparent when you put the Stonic up against its rivals, with the Arona, Kamiq and T-Roc swallowing seven of the same carry-on cases in our tests, and the Ford Puma managing eight.

There’s no ski hatch, which would be handy for when you’re loading long items, but at least you have more space once you’ve folded the rear seats. Unfortunately, though, they don’t fold flat with the boot floor, so you’ll have to contend with a fair step up to the seatbacks.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of front space

Weaknesses Small boot by class standards; less rear space than rivals

Kia Stonic interior driver display

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash purchase, the entry-level Kia Stonic will cost you a few thousand pounds more than the Citroën C3 Aircross but manages to undercut the Ford Puma, Renault Captur and Seat Arona.

Better still, the Stonic is predicted to hold on to its value as well as the C3 Aircross and Puma, which will help to keep PCP finance rates competitive. To make sure you get the best price, be sure to check out our new Kia deals page

While we’ve yet to put the mild-hybrid petrol through our Real MPG test, the smaller engine version managed an average MPG of 46.1mpg when it was put through our scientific testing – that’s only 2mpg short of its official figure. It’s worth noting that the Puma’s official figures are even better while offering power.

Equipment, options and extras

If you want to keep costs down, we can certainly see the appeal of the Stonic’s entry-level 2 trim. Indeed, it gives you plenty of standard equipment, including 16in alloy wheels, cruise control and air conditioning. 

Jumping up to GT-Line gives you more niceties, including sportier styling and 17in wheels, automatic air conditioning, aluminium pedals and privacy glass. Even so, we’d suggest spending a little more and going for 3 trim, because it gets all the same equipment but with our favourite engine, the mild-hybrid.

At the top of the range is GT-Line S. It gets the same sporty styling and 17in wheels as the GT-Line but adds the mild-hybrid engine, extra safety kit and a few other features. It’s quite pricey, though, making it hard to recommend.

Reliability

When it comes to reliability, the Stonic as a model put on a fairly disappointing display, placing right near the bottom of the small SUV category in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey

Meanwhile, Kia as a brand did much better and came a respectable eighth out of 32 car makers in the same survey. That puts it below Suzuki and Hyundai but above Citroen, Skoda, Ford, Seat, Volkswagen and Renault. 

If something does go wrong, there's always Kia's seven-year warranty to fall back on. UK and European roadside assistance is free for a year and available at a reasonable cost after that.

Safety and security

All Stonics come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assist, helping to give it a five-star Euro NCAP safety test result. While that's good, it was tested back in 2017 and can’t be compared to rivals tested in later years, including the Puma and Arona (both tested in 2022), because the testing criteria become more stringent every year.

If you want more safety kit, you’ll need GT-Line S trim. It adds blind-spot warning and, on models with an automatic gearbox, adaptive cruise control.

Every Stonic has a standard alarm and immobiliser, along with deadlocking on all doors. Mind you, the C3 Aircross proved harder to break into and steal in Thatcham Research's security tests.

Costs overview

Strengths Efficient engines; lots of standard kit; long warranty

Weaknesses Stonic has a poor reliability record

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FAQs

At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £19,426
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From £17,497
RRP price range £20,760 - £25,810
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 47.1 - 55.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 7 years / 100000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,147 / £1,482
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,294 / £2,963
Available colours