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...
- 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 2106 Official economy 51.4mpg Test economy 34.9mpg Options fitted Premium Paint (£545)
4th January 2019 – Back in the doctor's chair
Before I go too much further, it’s probably worth reiterating that, for the most part, the Stonic remains a willing and eager companion. Like my sprocker spaniel, it is always eager to please but, just like poor Dennis, it doesn’t always succeed…
Key among my current frustrations with the car is comfort from the driver’s seat. A colleague recently borrowed the Kia for a long run up to Yorkshire and returned complaining bitterly about lower-back pain. I had thought the problem was his, rather than the car’s, until I undertook a similarly lengthy journey and found myself suffering from fairly crippling discomfort the following day.
It seems to be a function of a particularly firm lower part of the seatback, right where it meets the base of the spine if you’re my height, but I’m planning to try the seat in different positions over the coming weeks to see if I can prevent it from recurring.
A further contributor to the comfort problem is the Stonic’s ride. It’s not especially firm, but in the rear in particular it can be unpleasantly jiggly when there’s a full complement of passengers – a point noted by my nine-year-old daughter Niamh, who, being fortunately immune to car sickness, likes to write stories during car journeys. In addition to her complaint about the lack of a central armrest – vital in the prevention of World War 3 with her older sister – she found it almost impossible to keep her handwriting neat over even smaller bumps.
The Stonic's high level of kit in 4 trim continues to impress, however – and even a couple of months in, I’m still discovering features I didn’t know it had, such as the automatic main/dip beam for the headlights. It works really well – certainly better than the lane-keeping assistance, which can pick up scars in the road and try to steer you out of your lane when you least expect it.
It's also a contributor to the seemingly endless cacophony of beeping that provides the soundtrack to life with the Stonic. There are loud and insistent chimes for just about everything. So far I’ve counted nine – front collision warning, rear collision warning, lane departure, engine start-up, engine off, seatbelts, door open, cold weather, blindspot warning – and I have yet to work out how to turn them off without disabling the otherwise useful assist systems. Any advice gratefully received…
One area in which the Stonic has surprised me as I spend more time with it is practicality. For longer journeys, we tend to choose my wife’s MPV, but the Stonic is a usefully roomy family car as long as there isn’t too much luggage. I was sceptical that its 352-litre boot would be sufficient for the needs of a family, but since I worked out how to drop the false floor, it has generally proved sufficient – although there was no way we were getting a decent-sized Christmas tree this year without a roofrack.
Returning to Dennis the dog, he seems to be happy enough in the boot and doesn’t even seem to mind the knobbly ride, although the high load lip – and the drop to the boot floor on the other side – is a test for his agility.