I visited my local video store in Chorlton cum Hardy 1990, to purchase a Sega Megadrive, the first 16 bit video console. The game I chose to buy first for my housemates & I to play, was Sonic the Hedgehog, for Sonic the Hedgehog was the fastest thing alive. Hours of fun ensued & in more recent years, my son & I have played the game again, as I still have the Mega Drive in my attic.
Whether or not KIA’s designers & management ever played what was the most popular game of it’s era, I couldn’t say, but guessing that many of them are now aged between 40 & 50, they probably did & I’d like to think that between them, having enjoyed the game, they came up with the name for KIA’s latest model, the Stonic.
Stonic is based on the latest Rio supermini & is powered by high-efficiency, high-technology petrol & diesel powertrains from Rio & cee’d. It was designed in Europe at the company’s Frankfurt studios, with input from the main design centre at Namyang in Korea.
Whilst the B-SUV market is awash with choice, the fact is that that in Europe, the B-SUV sector is expected to double to more than two million a year by 2020. 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. Crowded sector yes. Sales opportunity yes.
In the UK there is a five-model line-up based on grade 2 & First Edition trim levels. These will be powered by three engines. A 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) unit delivering 118bhp, a 1.4-litre multi-point injection (MPi) naturally aspirated 98bhp petrol engine & a 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel from the cee’d range.
Stonic is slightly longer than Rio, at 4,140mm & is also 70mm taller & rides 42mm higher than Rio. Stonic has a bespoke body and interior. Design elements such as the KIA ‘tiger-nose’ grille, ensure that Stonic is recognisable as a member of the KIA family.
Both versions are generously equipped, with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) Hill-start Assist, 17″ alloy wheels, aircon, all-round electric windows, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, Bluetooth with music streaming, automatic headlight control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights & LED daytime running lights. There are body-coloured bumpers, door mirror casings & door handles, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 60:40 split rear seats & a six-speaker audio system.
The First Edition adds a smart key entry system & engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, black cloth & grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, automatic aircon, LED rear lights, privacy glass on the rear side windows & tailgate, heated front seats, a D-shaped steering wheel, chrome window trim & interior door handles, plus a dual-height luggage floor.
Grade 2 features a 7.0″ display with a DAB radio & MP3 compatibility in, whilst in First Edition this is upgraded to a 7.0″ touchscreen SatNav & infotainment system featuring Kia Connected Services with TomTom™. Android Auto & Apple CarPlay. Smartphone integration are standard across the range.
At the UK press launch, we had the opportunity to drive the 1.0 litre petrol & 1.6 litre diesel versions in grade 2 & First Edition. Grade 2 models look good, but if you want to spend a bit more to make your Stonic stand out, then the First Grade adds colour splashes on the dashboard & alternate wing mirror & roof colours. In comparison to Citroens new C3 Aircross, the customisation options are limited, I’m guessing because KIA customers aren’t as turned on by this as some other brands & may view such things as flim-flam.
Climb inside the KIA & the internal design is functional but not exciting. The fit & finish is excellent & at the price the Stonic is being offered at £16,295- £20,495, shame’s similar offerings in the sector. On the downside, apart from some nice colour touches inside First Edition models, in the main, everything is grey or black. Having said that the location of the touchscreen & its’s size are standouts & a nice touch, is the standard sliding front centre armrest.
Front seat passengers have good head & legroom & you can fit two adults in the rear, although taller passengers will struggle for leg room based on how tall the front seat passengers are.The 352-litre boot is about average for similarly priced SUV’s. First Edition adds a useful split boot cover making it a little more practical.
First up for us to drive, was the petrol version & it’s a real cracker & right up there with the similarly performing Volkswagen 1.0 litre petrol engine. It’s smooth, surprisingly quiet & absolutely perfect for urban driving. On the motorway, it offers a decent turn of pace, hitting 60mph in 9.9 seconds & again is surprisingly quiet even on wet roads. It also offers 56.5mpg on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 115g/km, so not far from a diesel in this respect.
The 1.6 diesel engine has acombined economy figure of 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km, so beats out the petrol, but it’s a little slower in reaching 60mph, which takes 10.9 seconds. It handles almost as well as the petrol, but does feel unrefined in comparison. Even so, if you’re a fleet customer, the diesel will still be the sensible choice & in Grade 2 spec as well.
With such a huge choice, the B-SUV customer will need both time & patience to test all the models currently on offer in they sector. With five new models joining the class in the next few months; KIA Stonic, Citroen C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, VW T-Roc & SEAT Arona, out of all of these, the KIA is a sensible choice. Much like the larger Sportage, which accounts for 25% of UK KIA sales, it’s not necessarily the best in class, but the combination ofKIA’s excellent build quality, attractive looks, on trend tech, outstanding Korean reliability & KIA’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, UK customers won’t mind. I predict that the Stonic will soon be KIA’s second best UK selling model.
A Mega Drive 3.5/5
Addendum. The Stonic has been named after the words “speedy” & “tonic. “ Sonic the Hedgehog was speedy, so I guess I was half right !