Kia today enters Europe's fastest-growing market sector, that for small (B-segment) SUVs, with Stonic, an exciting, sporty, confident and smart new model priced from £16,295.
The B-SUV market in Europe is expected to double to more than two million a year by 2020, based on 2016 figures. Kia expects to sell 70,000 versions of Stonic in Europe in 2018, rising steadily to 100,000 a year. The UK will account for between 8,000 and 10,000 sales a year.
Stonic is based on the latest Rio supermini and is powered by high-efficiency, high-technology petrol and diesel powertrains from Rio and the cee'd family. It was designed in Europe at the company's Frankfurt studios, with input from the main design centre at Namyang in Korea. Originally intended as a car solely for Europe, it will now also be sold in Korea, such was the reception it got when shown there.
In the UK there is a five-model line-up based on grade 2 and First Edition trim levels. All versions offer an extensive package of connectivity features, including links to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via pre-downloaded smartphone apps, while advanced electronic driver assistance systems such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and automatic switching between high and low headlight beams are available.
A new kind of Kia for a changing market
Stonic is Kia's first small SUV, and it brings the brand's unique, multi-award-winning styling to the B-SUV class. Buyers are moving into B-SUVs from superminis, small MPVs and three-door compact hatchbacks.
Stonic is slightly longer than Rio, at 4,140mm. It is also 70mm taller and rides 42mm higher from the ground to give it a clear SUV stance. While the two cars share some mechanical components, Stonic has a bespoke body and interior.
Unfortunately all models are front-wheel drive as the take-up for all-wheel drive in this sector of the market is only 8 per cent.
Key signature design elements such as the 'tiger-nose' main front grille, the distinctive C-pillar and the straight lines and smooth surfaces ensure that Stonic is instantly recognisable as a member of the modern Kia family.
The First Edition version stands out even more thanks to its two-tone paintwork. The roof, wing mirror casings and rear spoiler are picked out in either black, lime green, red or orange, depending on the choice of main body colour, and there are colour accents in the interior on the seats and around the lower centre console and display screen areas.
The horizontal theme evident in the exterior styling is repeated in the cabin, emphasising width and space while separating the upper information and lower control areas. The number of buttons and switches has been kept to a minimum to give a neater look and greater functionality. The First Edition follows the Rio in offering USB ports front and rear so that mobile devices can be charged from any seat.
All versions are generously equipped, with an extensive range of active safety features and up-to-the-minute connectivity in First Edition versions.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) are standard. VSM is linked to Torque Vectoring, Straight Line Stability and Cornering Brake Control to help the driver maintain control in bad weather or on poorly surfaced roads. All versions also have Hill-start Assist to prevent the car from rolling backwards when setting off on steep inclines.
Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning are standard in the First Edition and optional on grade 2 as part of an Advanced Driving Assistance Pack (ADAP). The Lane Departure Warning System is linked to Driver Attention Warning, which can alert a drowsy or distracted driver that it is time to take a break, and High Beam Assist, which automatically switches the car between dipped and full beam according to the traffic around it and the local street lighting.
The First Edition also has Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to prevent the car from being driven into the path of a vehicle approaching from an angle out of the driver's eye-line.
There is a 7.0-inch display with a DAB radio and MP3 compatibility in grade 2, and in the First Edition this is upgraded to a 7.0-inch touchscreen navigation and infotainment system featuring Kia Connected Services with TomTom™. Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ smartphone integration are standard across the range.
All models have 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows with an automatic function on the driver's side, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.5-inch supervision cluster, Bluetooth with music streaming, automatic headlight control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. There are body-coloured bumpers, door mirror casings and door handles, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 60:40 split rear seats and a six-speaker audio system.
The First Edition adds a smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, automatic air conditioning, LED rear lights, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, heated front seats and D-shaped steering wheel, chrome window trim and interior door handles and a dual-height luggage floor.
The standard paint colour is Sienna Brown, with a black roof on the First Edition. Clear White, Blaze Red, Graphite and Midnight Black are options on grade 2, while First Edition versions can be ordered in Clear White, Blaze Red and Zest Yellow, all with a black roof; Midnight Black with a red roof; Graphite with a lime green roof; and Urban Grey and Satin Silver with an orange roof.
T-GDi engine heads efficient powertrain line-up
Three modern and efficient engines are available in Stonic, headed by Kia's little jewel, the 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) unit delivering 118bhp. It lines up alongside a 1.4-litre multi-point injection (MPi) naturally aspirated 98bhp petrol engine and the 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel from the cee'd range.
ISG, Kia's engine stop/start system to ensure no fuel is wasted and no emissions are pumped into the air when the car is stationary, is standard. All versions are paired with a six-speed manual transmission and are front-wheel drive. The powertrains showcase Kia's advanced engine technologies, and conform with the company's policy of downsizing to reduce fuel consumption and emissions without impairing performance.
The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine develops an impressive 171Nm of torque across a wide rev band starting at only 1,500rpm, ensuring effortless driveability which allows it to accelerate from standstill to 60mph in less than 10 seconds, yet it is also capable of up to 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions of 115g/km are not much more than those of a diesel.
The fuel economy champion of the Stonic range is the diesel, which has a combined economy figure of 67.3mpg with CO2emissions of 109g/km. Yet with 260Nm of torque stretching from 1,500 to 2,750rpm it is certainly not lacking in pace, delivering not only impressive in-gear acceleration but also distinctly brisk 10.9-second acceleration from 0 to 60mph.
Meanwhile the 1.4-litre petrol engine, available exclusively in the grade 2 model, has economy and emissions figures of 51.4mpg and 125g/km. Despite its relatively small cubic capacity it delivers admirable performance, with 133Nm of torque. The result is easy, fluid driving characteristics.
Smooth, sharp, strong and safe
Stonic relies on a similar suspension system to Rio, with independent MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear, but there has been extensive retuning to take into account the SUV's higher ground clearance and centre of gravity.
Engineered initially as a car purely for European customers, Stonic has the fun-to-drive characteristics expected by them, with immediate steering responses on twisting and often narrow roads, unshakeable stability at high motorway speeds and a smooth ride even on the varied and often neglected surfaces found throughout Europe.
Warranty and Servicing
In common with all Kias, the Stonic has the best warranty in the business – a seven-year/100,000-mile declaration of faith in the reliability and quality of the car, covering all labour and parts except those subject to normal wear and tear. The warranty is transferable if the car is sold before the time/mileage limit expires.
It is also available with Care 3 and Care 3 Plus servicing packages for retail customers. These cover the cost of all routine servicing work for three or five years respectively and, like the warranty, can be passed on if the car is sold before they expire.