The South Korean brand’s sales have been booming the past several years, but it has been missing a key vehicle in its line-up – not any more.
The South Korean brand’s sales have been booming the past several years, but it has been missing a key vehicle in its line-up – not any more.

Kia’s long-awaited new SUV has arrived

Kia's been a shining sales star in recent years, but a city SUV has been a glaring omission from its line-up. The new Stonic plugs the hole.

Available from $22,990 drive-away, our family of testers sampled the range-topping GT-Line version at $29,990 on the road.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Iain: Teens and retirees don't want cars these days. They demand SUVs. Cheap, little ones mainly.

The Kia Stonic fills the last big hole in the brand’s line-up.
The Kia Stonic fills the last big hole in the brand’s line-up.

Jules: Of course. City SUVs are far more appealing than city hatchbacks or sedans. Keep up, Granddad.

Iain: Hey, it's their money. The Kia Stonic's a great example. It's based on the Rio hatchback and shares its engine, gearbox and much of its equipment. But costs thousands more.

Jules: Yes, but it looks cooler than a daggy hatch. And it's easier to climb in and out from.

I ain: But a Stonic costs $3500 more than the equivalent entry-level Rio, and our GT-Line is $5000 more than the hatch alternative.

Jules: I'd pay the extra. The Stonic looks beautifully sporty. What are its rivals?

Iain: A Kia Rio for a lot less? Okay, sorry. The Hyundai Venue (from $20,690), Toyota Yaris Cross (from $26,990) and runaway segment leader Mazda CX-3 (from $22,890).

THE LIVING SPACE

Jules: The Stonic is sporty inside too, but feels cheaper than I was expecting. I like the flat-bottom steering wheel, metal pedals, fake leather seat bolsters and carbon-style dash trim.

I ain: There's the usual very smart Kia layout, good build quality, climate control and sizeable 8-inch infotainment screen, though the doors are mighty slabs of hard plastic.

Jules: It needs more comfort. The dash and door plastics are too scratchy.

The Stonic will take on SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3.
The Stonic will take on SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3.

THE COMMUTE

Jules: It feels sturdy on the highway, but there's a bit of road noise to tolerate.

Iain: While the doors have a solid clunk to them, the Stonic doesn't suppress the sounds as well as pricier, larger Kias.

Jules: It's not a quick car, but perky. It scoots around town nicely.

Iain: Like many rivals it uses a turbocharged three-cylinder. Just 74kW on offer, but its 172Nm of torque loads quickly to offer some fun.

Jules: If I'm grumbling, it can be a bit jerky when parking and at slow speeds.

Iain: It has a sporty twin-clutch auto gearbox. Brilliant when up to speed, but a bit hesitant when meandering urban areas.

Jules: It cleverly keeps itself between the road's white lines, steering itself if you stray, with some beepy telling off.

Iain: And call me spoiled, but I've grown to love radar cruise control. Not available on the little Stonic.

The Stonic is aimed at young and older drivers.
The Stonic is aimed at young and older drivers.

SUNDAY RUN

Jules: Bowls club or university sports fields I'd imagine?

Iain: Hopefully a few will enjoy some corners. Kia Australia sets up its cars' steering and handling for our roads and preferences. This GT-Line gets a sportier tune than other Stonics, and it's a decent balance of comfort and good cornering skills.

Jules: The turbo engine likes to rev too.

Iain: I love its fun, quite raspy noise. The dual-clutch gearbox is sharp when driving enthusiastically too. It really needs steering wheel paddles to add more involvement.

THE FAMILY

Jules: Despite being a city SUV, rear doors are large so the kids can get in easily. No rear air vents though.

Iain: Rear seats are firm but give reasonable head and leg room, though you wouldn't want three adults across the back for long.

There is decent room in the rear.
There is decent room in the rear.

Jules: The safety kit and 5 Star ANCAP rating are good, but I don't like missing out on rear cross traffic alert and a blind spot monitor.

Iain: Hold on. Our GT-Line Stonic doesn't have a 5 Star rating. Kia cheekily used the Rio's 2017 safety rating for the 1.4-litre Stonic - deeming the cars so closely related - but it didn't apply to our 1.0-litre turbo model. I'd suggest no Stonic would get 5 Stars if crashed in 2021, due to stricter rules on active and passive safety gear.

Jules: Very cheeky. Positively, I love the rear occupant alert. It monitors rear doors opening and alerts to ensure no kids are left behind.

P2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line is a handsome car.
P2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line is a handsome car.

Iain: Kudos for Kia's seven-year warranty and fuel economy of 5.4L/100km, which we almost achieved. Services aren't cheap, and are every 10,000km rather than the 15,000km of many rivals.

THE VERDICT

Jules: I like the Stonic's style, good looks and easy-to-drive nature, but I want it to feel more special. It's probably a better proposition at $22,990 for the entry-level 'S', as the $30,000 GT-Line has to compete with the Skoda Kamiq - a larger and classier feeling city SUV.

Iain: I see the appeal, but personally I'd hop in a Kia Rio GT-Line for $5000 less. Or get an entry-level Kia Seltos with its larger dimensions and smarter cabin. That said, the Stonic's a welcome addition to the city SUV segment, and Kia will sell plenty.

KIA STONIC GT-LINE VITALS

Price: $29,990 drive-away

Warranty/servicing: 7 years/u'ltd km warranty $2128 for 5 years/50,000km

Engine: 1.0-litre 3-cyl turbo-petrol, 74kW/172Nm

Safety: Not tested, six airbags, auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane following assist, lane keep assist, rear camera with parking guidelines, rear sensors, rear occupant alert

Thirst: 5.4L/100km

Spare: Space saver

Boot: 352L/1155L

 

Originally published as Kia's long-awaited new SUV has arrived


Bunnings hero: Bravery medal for burning car rescue

Premium Content Bunnings hero: Bravery medal for burning car rescue

Northern Rivers man awarded bravery medal for rescuing a man from a burning car.

‘It sounded like someone was being murdered’

Premium Content ‘It sounded like someone was being murdered’

Irish backpackers' complaints soon took on a more sinister tone