Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Stonic's 1.6-litre diesel engine pulls quite eagerly once you get the revs above 1500rpm, but it doesn't exactly deliver swift acceleration. We wouldn’t recommend this engine unless your annual mileage is high enough for you to see the benefit of its lower fuel consumption.
For everyone else, and especially those who make a lot of short journeys, the 1.0-litre petrol is the one we’d go for. It may seem rather small, but a turbocharger boosts its power to 118bhp and it has almost as much low to mid-rev clout as the diesel. Overall, this engine is ideal for sauntering about town and has no problem getting you up to speed on the motorway.
And when the mood takes you, it has enough guts to swiftly gallop past slower-moving traffic on a country road. It's certainly rather sprightlier than the Captur's 0.9-litre turbo petrol engine.
Suspension and ride comfort
Well controlled but on the firm side: that’s a good way to sum up the Stonic’s ride. Its wheels tend to follow little road undulations, causing the suspension to send a shimmy through the interior as they do so. Pass over a ridge and there’s a thump; not an overly harsh one, but enough to make you notice.
At motorway speeds, the Stonic fidgets on asphalt that looks perfectly flat. It never becomes bouncy like the Citroën C3 Aircross does, but you'll experience an altogether smoother ride at all speeds in the Captur or Seat Arona.
Despite the fact that the Stonic is essentially a jacked-up Kia Rio, its raised ride height hasn't substantially affected its nimbleness.
Indeed, it's actually one of the most agile small SUVs you can buy. It responds surprisingly eagerly to steering inputs and stays upright through corners that would cause the Captur and C3 Aircross to lean over markedly. Even if you’re mid-corner and the road suddenly becomes bumpy, the Stonic remains composed.
And while the steering isn’t exactly feelsome, it’s precise and nicely weighted around the straight-ahead position, making it easy to stay in your lane on the motorway. However, the Arona is more enjoyable to drive, with even better steering and more front-end grip.
Bear in mind that all versions of the Stonic have front-wheel drive. If you need a small SUV with a bit of off-road ability, we’d suggest an Allgrip version of the Suzuki Vitara.
Noise and vibration
The 1.6-litre diesel engine should be avoided if a tranquil driving experience is your priority, because it’s so much boomier than the Captur's 1.5 dCi 90. The Stonic’s 1.0-litre petrol engine is a sweeter prospect. Sure, you still hear it thrumming away when you rev it, but it makes a pleasant rasp rather than the diesel’s intrusive clatter. All Stonics suffer from wind and road noise at motorway speeds, though.
In stop-start traffic, the Stonic’s standard six-speed manual gearbox (an automatic will join the range next year), combined with a positive clutch pedal, a well-defined biting point and progressive brakes, make smooth driving a breeze for even the most ham-fisted of drivers.
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