Stonking Stonic

Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi First Edition, Model on test: £19,695

When you hear Korea, motoring manufacturer isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Or at least it wasn’t a decade ago.

But now, with the likes of Hyundai and Kia rising in prominence, it’s not surprising that they are coming out with new models that don’t just match the more established Western Europe models in looks and styling, but are in some cases better looking.

I’d been interested in the Kia Stonic since I saw it’s launch images, and was keen to find out just what it would deliver; partly out of genuine interest, and partly because my car lease is up in a few months, and this could potentially be a contender for a replacement!

When I found out that my review model would be a top-spec ‘First Edition’, I was hopeful for a few toys – maybe sat nav and reversing sensors – so was very impressed when I found out it also had keyless entry and go, heated seats and steering wheel, a full colour rear view camera and driving aids such as lane departure warning. Make no mistake, Kia has not scrimped on the spec.

But the engine… have they saved a little too much here? A one litre, three cylinder engine for a mid-sized family hatchback / small SUV… surely that’s not enough, even with the turbo?

Actually, they’ve done an okay job here too. It certainly sounds like a three-pot engine, and you have to use the manual gear box (6 speed as standard) to get up to speed, but it’s no slouch and once you’re up to speed, it’s more than capable of holding its own. We took it on a long weekend to the South coast to see some family, and the boot swallowed up everything we needed to take without question – even pillows for four of us on top of all our luggage and wellies (this is England – we took nothing for granted).

On the road down, which included some twisty A and B roads as well as periods of dual carriageway and town negotiation, it held it’s own remarkably well. Comfortable at cruise, and no discernible body roll on the corners either. And this is not a short car… its not massive, but I expected more roll than there was. Parking is easy with the camera and a relatively small postage stamp in terms of external dimensions – impressive considering how much we squeezed inside it too.

So here we have a good sized, practical and economical car, with plenty of toys and gadgets that can handle most that is thrown at it over a (as it happens) sunny weekend away in the South of England. What’s the catch?

Is it the finish? The quality of the plastics in the cabin? No… they were all pretty high quality too. And the steering wheel, while it could have been a bit chunkier, was wrapped in a  nice perforated leather and connected to a responsive steering rack with a good turning circle.

After a week I was really impressed with the Kia. And it occurred to me that I really shouldn’t be. South Korea has been developing manufacturing excellence for years – is it a big leap that they’ve turned their attention to the automotive market? Of course not. And they’re good at it too. The price tag sounds a little high, but I think it’s worth it. This is a car that comes with a 7 year warranty. That’s confidence in your product, right there.

So is the Kia Stonic perfect? Well, my review car came with a lime green roof. Say no more.

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