2018 Kia Stonic long-term test review

Kia's new small SUV was styled with European customers in mind, but can it lure them away from the class favourites? We have four months to find out...

Kia Stonic long-term test review
  • The car Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi 4
  • Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor
  • Why it’s here The mini SUV market is expected to double to 2.2 million cars between 2016 and 2020. Kia’s new Stonic mates rugged looks with hatchback convenience, so we have four months to find out if it’s a contender
  • Needs to Offer a blend of talents in addition to Kia’s class-leading warranty, if it’s to tempt buyers away from established rivals in a market where style is at least as important as practicality

Price £20,200 Price as tested £20,745 Miles covered 4032 Official economy 51.4mpg Test economy 36.2mpg Options fitted Premium Paint (£545)

15 February 2019 – Farewell to the Kia (and cushion)

If you’ve ever wondered why your children’s school reports always sound so similar, it’s because there's an online resource for teachers to help fill them out. A friend of mine works at a primary school and shared the website with me to help sum up my experience with the Stonic, so here goes:

General attitude: ‘Cheerful, enthusiastic and always eager to please.’

Practicality: ‘Willing and makes a good contribution.’

Equipment: ‘Generous to a fault.’

Refinement: ‘A little too keen to offer an opinion at times.'

Ride and comfort: ‘Must work harder.’

Kia Stonic long-term test review

Let’s start with the negatives, and key among those is comfort. At 6ft 3in and, ahem, not an inconsiderable weight, I'm probably towards the upper end of the expected customer dimensions for the Stonic, but nevertheless I have consistently struggled to find a seating position that prevents me from suffering back pain on longer journeys.

This problem is exacerbated by a ride that's unpleasantly firm, particularly when the car is fully laden, resulting in complaints from the rear-seat passengers. My suspicion is that this is caused by stiffer springing to compensate for the raised ride height in the transition from Rio hatchback to Stonic SUV.

The seats don’t help, either: they’re flat and rather firm, lacking the side support of the those in the related Hyundai Kona. And here size makes no difference, because it has been commented on by more than one (smaller) colleague.

Kia Stonic long-term test review

Then there's the noise. The engine sounds pleasant enough, particularly when revved, but any trip in the Stonic is accompanied by a constant and insistent backing track of beeps, chimes and tones from the various assistance systems that is both distracting and, after a short distance, pretty annoying.

Despite these complaints, however, it’s hard not to like the Stonic. For a start, there’s that generosity: in addition to the funky looks and standard seven-year warranty, for many buyers the reason for picking a Kia over the perceived prestige of a European brand is the superb amount of standard equipment.

For a fraction over £20,000, my car’s flagship 4 spec has just about anything you could want – bar front parking sensors, perhaps. There's heated faux-leather seats and steering wheel, superb climate control, an easy-to-use sat-nav and a decent sound system, not to mention automatic lights and wipers and a rear-view camera.

Hand in hand with all of those ‘big car’ options, the Stonic is surprisingly practical. The boot is a useful size, bearing in mind the car’s diminutive overall proportions, and my kids (aged 9 and 13) have had no complaints about the space in the rear.

Kia Stonic long-term test review

From behind the wheel, however, the Stonic feels very much a compact car, which is to its benefit in its natural environment: the city.

Once warm, its turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine is lively and responsive, its six-speed gearbox is quick-shifting and all of its controls are light, which is a bonus in traffic. But get out of the urban limits and it’s fun, too, with the eager motor and agile nature making it an entertaining car to drive cross-country, even if it lacks the grip and composure of more overtly sporting hatchbacks.

Kia Stonic long-term test review

It’s a shame that the Stonic's small-capacity (998cc) petrol engine and low weight (1185kg) don’t translate into class-leading efficiency, however. Kia claims a combined average fuel consumption figure of 51.4mpg, but the nearest we could get to that was a fraction over 50mpg on a long motorway run from London to Yorkshire, and my cross-town commute brought the average down to just 36.2mpg.

If you’re not spending the majority of your time in stop-start traffic, though, our True MPG tests have shown that you can expect 41.4mpg – still not class-leading, but rather more palatable. And I’d prefer to end on a positive note, because, despite its flaws, the Stonic is a very likeable car. Just don’t forget your cushion…

Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi 4 – test data

List price £20,200 Target Price £18,988 Price as tested £20,745 Options Premium paint (£545) Dealer price now £17,534 Private price now £15,586 Trade-in price £15,652 Miles covered 4032 Test economy 36.2mpg Official average 51.4mpg  Contract hire na Insurance group 12 Total running cost £560.87 

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