2017 Kia Stonic review – price, specs and release date

Another new small SUV hits the streets, but does the Kia Stonic stand out or merely follow the crowd?...

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John Howell
19 Sep 2017 8:0 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 0:3

Priced from £16,295 Release date September 2017

Kia’s strapline may be ‘The power to surprise’ but, in the era of soft-roaders, adding another small SUV to its range is no more of a bombshell than a weeping X Factor contestant babbling: "All I’ve ever wanted to do is sing!"

The new Stonic is now the smallest SUV in Kia's portfolio. It’s spawned from the Rio, Kia’s supermini, in much the same way Renault uses the Clio as the basis for the Captur.

So what’s the nitty-gritty? Well, it's front-wheel drive only and there's a single 1.6-litre diesel, while your petrol options include a four-cylinder 1.4-litre. But our experience of the Rio range tells us the better bet will be the three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol.

"A puny 1.0 over a 1.4 – you’re surely deluded?" we hear you crow. Well, a smaller capacity it may be, but a turbocharger adds 20bhp over the naturally aspirated 1.4, giving a healthy 118bhp. That means better performance and lower emissions. See, not so silly after all.

Two trims are available. They begin at the mathematically incongruous 2, which has most things any urban SUV driver might need, including a 7.0in touchscreen with Bluetooth, a DAB radio and Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Air-con, electric windows and rear parking sensors are also included.

Continuing the slightly haphazard naming policy, the First Edition is the top-level trim. This adds extras such as keyless entry, sat-nav, climate control and various personalisation options, among which is two-tone paintwork. You also get extra safety kit, including blindspot warning, rear cross traffic alert – which lets you know if you’re about to reverse out of your drive into the path of a car – and automatic emergency braking (AEB). AEB can be added as an option to the lower trim.

2017 Kia Stonic review – price, specs and release date

2017 Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi ISG on the road

The 1.0 is the pick of the range – and that includes the slightly lethargic and boomy diesel. Sure, you still hear it thrumming away when you rev it, but it’s a pleasantly muted, three-cylinder rasp, rather than the diesel’s intrusive clatter.

And it’s peppy, too, with the mid-range zip to let you saunter about town or gallop up to motorway speeds. The standard six-speed manual gearbox (an automatic will join the range next year), together with a light clutch and its well-defined biting point, plus the progressive brakes, make smooth driving easily achievable.

Despite its raised ride height, the Stonic demonstrates much of the Rio’s sure-footedness through bends. Handling wise, it’s more akin to the relatively nimble Suzuki Vitara rather than the softer-sprung Captur, which rolls more through corners. And while the steering isn’t exactly feelsome, it’s well weighted and precise on the motorway, yet stays helpfully light around town.

Where the Captur strikes back is the suppleness of its ride. For all its comparative alacrity in the bends, the Stonic delivers a firmer edge around town, particularly across ridges in the road that thump and jar you somewhat. The good news is that pick up the pace on faster roads and it feels better resolved.

2017 Kia Stonic review – price, specs and release date

2017 Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi ISG interior

You won’t want for room in the front of the Stonic: head and leg room are there in abundance, even for taller folk. The driving position is a little odd, mind. You sit low, with your legs stretched out – that’s fine in a Rio or its ilk, but seems a little odd considering one of the joys of SUV ownership is sitting high. That said, there’s seat-height adjustment and more than enough movement to the rake and reach adjustable steering wheel to get comfortable.

It feels solidly made inside, including nicely damped switches and buttons. But, like the Vitara, there’s precious little give in the surfaces – these are all hard plastics. We used to say the same about the Captur, until Renault recently added touches such as a squidgier dashboard, and it’s all the better for it.

The touchscreen is well positioned and its large icons are easy to spot. It responds a tad slowly at times, but we’d still rate it as one of the best systems in the class.

Moving to the rear, head room is fine, but leg room is merely average compared with bigger rivals such as the Vitara. Also average is the boot, which doesn’t provide the Captur’s flexible sliding rear seats to boost space. The First Edition trim does come with a useful dual-height floor for separating delicate items and, in its upper position and with the standard 60/40 rear seats laid down, it gives you an easy-to-load flat floor.

Next: 2017 Kia Stonic verdict>