Kia Stonic review

Category: Small SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Kia Stonic 2021 rear tracking
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RRP £18,450What Car? Target Price from£17,525
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Performance & drive

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

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Only entry-level 2 trim comes with the 99bhp 1.0 T-GDi engine. It’s a punchy performer, and the manual’s 0-60mph time of 10.7sec isn’t too far off that of the 10.4sec time you’ll get from the more powerful engine.

However, you’ll appreciate the mild hybrid assistance that the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi receives  from low engine speeds. If you're tootling through town, you’ll barely need to pass 1500rpm and it's happy to rev away if you need a bit more oomph; getting up to motorway speeds is no chore at all. If your budget can stretch to it, then this is the engine to go for in the lineup, but settling for the entry-level 99bhp version is no bad thing.

It’s certainly gutsier than the equivalent Renault Captur, although those looking for even more punch should aim their gaze towards the Ford Puma or Volkswagen T-Roc.

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

Kia Stonic 2021 rear tracking

Handling

Despite the fact that the Kia Stonic is essentially a jacked-up 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 Citroën 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 Ford Puma is even more enjoyable to drive, with even better steering and more front-end grip. Four-wheel drive isn’t available, you’ll need a Volkswagen T-Roc or a Suzuki Ignis, Jimny or Vitara for that.

Noise and vibration

Both the Kia Stonic’s petrol engine options are decently refined. Sure, you still hear them thrumming away when you rev them, but you’ll hear a pleasant rasp rather than an intrusive clatter. All Stonics suffer from wind and road noise at motorway speeds, though. If you’re after an even quieter life, a 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 mild hybrid system fitted to the T-GDi 118 makes for smooth engine restarts when the stop start system is working, and with a clever clutch system, allows the car to coast when left in gear to save fuel.

This can make slowing down a little tricky to judge, though; when the clutch automatically disengages to allow the Stonic to coast, you’ll not have any engine braking, so the car takes a long while to shed speed. However, it doesn’t always coast to a stop as sometimes the regenerative braking system cuts in to charge the hybrid battery. In this instance, it slows down far quicker, so you never quite know when to lift off the accelerator pedal when you’re approaching a roundabout, for instance.

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