Kia Stonic SUV review
“The Kia Stonic is competent rather than compelling and it’s hard to justify paying the extra over the Kia Rio on which it’s based”
- Excellent warranty
- Good to drive
- Cramped interior
- Petrol only
- Surprising driving position
Verdict - Is the Kia Stonic a good car?
On paper, the Kia Stonic is a solid choice thanks to its smart design, efficient engines and generous equipment list. However, with such an oversaturated market filled with rivals that are stronger than ever, it’s hard to recommend Kia’s small SUV over the competition. We think the similarly-priced Kia XCeed is a far better all-rounder, which only hurts the Stonic’s case further.
Kia Stonic models, specs and alternatives
More buyers than ever before are choosing small and economical SUV-style cars like the Kia Stonic, one of many released in the last few years. There are so many new entrants into this segment, meaning there’s lots of choice, so manufacturers are faced with the challenge of standing out while offering great value.
Closely related to the Hyundai Kona, the Stonic is based on the Kia Rio supermini and has a lower-slung design than many of its rivals, like the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq, as well as the Citroen C3 Aircross, Renault Captur and SEAT Arona. Add to this the fact Kia is competing with other models in its own lineup – the Kia XCeed is slightly bigger and isn’t much more expensive on a monthly basis.
A facelift in late 2020 saw the Stonic sharpened up with new LED headlights, while a new GT-Line trim added redesigned bumpers and a rear spoiler for a more sporting style. A minor update the following year introduced Kia’s new badge design, among other things.
Compared to the larger Kia Niro and Kia Sportage, the Stonic’s styling is relatively subtle, and takes much inspiration from the Rio on which it’s based. The overall look is fairly muscular and squat with a low roofline, and buyers have a choice of several bright colours to help it stand out, as well as a contrasting roof.
Things look lively inside too, thanks to various personalisation options introduced in a bid to entice younger buyers. In fact, Kia claims the Stonic is the most customisable car it’s ever made, with an array of styling packages available.
A 98bhp non-turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine was initially offered but has since been withdrawn, leaving you with the choice of a 99bhp or 118bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol. It was previously offered with a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel, but this was also discontinued in early 2021. The 1.0-litre engine was already our pick of the range, being more powerful and efficient than the outdated 1.4-litre petrol, as well as quieter and more responsive than the diesel and, while it does require a little effort to get the most out of it, fuel economy of up to 51.4mpg is very reasonable.
Although the Stonic is a little more expensive than some of its rivals, its generous standard equipment list makes amends. There are '2', 'GT-Line', ‘Quantum’ and '3' trim levels, plus a ‘GT-Line S’ range-topper, but even the 2 comes with kit such as 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s likely you’ll have to spend extra on some rival models that have a lower starting price in order to get the same level of equipment.