heycar editorial team
- Even the entry-level version has plenty of kit
- The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine is punchy and efficient
- A class-leading seven-year warranty
Not so great
- It doesn’t feel like a compact crossover
- Limited space for rear-seat passengers
- Lacks the high driving position of its rivals
On the inside
How much does it cost to run
Prices, versions and specification
Overall verdict on the Kia Stonic
"In isolation, the Kia Stonic is a thoroughly decent car. It’s cheap to run, well-equipped and backed by an industry-leading warranty. It loses marks for the limited space in the back, a harsh ride and a curiously low-slung driving position. We’d be tempted to reduce its mark for the portmanteau name. ‘Speedy’ and ‘tonic’ – hmmm..."
The Kia Stonic isn’t a bad car. Far from it. It comes loaded with standard equipment, looks pretty good and is backed by one of the industry’s best warranty packages. So why does it fall short?
In summary, it isn’t comfortable or refined enough to match the class leaders, most notably the Seat Arona, Renault Captur and new Nissan Juke. But that’s not to say that the Kia Stonic shouldn’t be on your shortlist if you’re after a compact crossover.
It’s based on the Kia Rio, but the Stonic is taller and wider than the supermini, with extra length behind the back wheels to create more luggage space. As a result, it’s more practical than the Rio, but not to the extent you might think.
The boot is a good size, but because the rear seats don’t slide forward, it lacks the flexibility of some other crossovers. Space is also limited in the back seats, so some adults might struggle to find enough headroom and legroom. It also lacks glamour in the back, with only a single seatback pocket, a USB port and a pair of small door bins to lift the mood.
Things are better up front, with the Stonic offering a generous amount of shoulder room and headroom. There’s a large glovebox, a pair of cupholders, two large door bins and a centre storage box with armrest.
The cabin is a little sombre, but the dashboard offers a good layout with all the buttons and switches falling nicely to hand. Perceived quality is helped by the leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, but some of the materials used throughout the cabin feel cheap and plasticky.
At least it's well-equipped, with all versions of the Stonic featuring 17-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay, air conditioning, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
Other trim levels offer more kit and cosmetic upgrades, with the flagship Stonic boasting heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, satellite navigation and leather upholstery. Top trim models also feature the safety kit required for the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, but models without the pack are given a three-star rating.
The driving experience is a little odd. While most compact crossovers offer a lofty driving position, you sit low in the Stonic, which makes it feel like a humble supermini. It also prioritises handling over ride comfort, but never feels especially exciting to drive. It’s kind of lost between a rock and a hard place.
In isolation, the Kia Stonic is a perfectly adequate car. It looks good, comes loaded with plenty of equipment, and is backed by a seven-year warranty. It just fails to impress, leaving you feeling like you’re driving a slightly larger and chunkier Kia Rio.
Our money would go on the Seat Arona, which is one of the best all-rounders in a seriously crowded market.
Comfort and design: Kia Stonic interior
"The Kia Stonic is a bit of an oddball, because the low-slung driving position is more akin to a supermini than to a compact crossover. If you’re after a lofty stance, look elsewhere."
It’s also lacking in flair and imagination, with few of the design flourishes you might find in competitors. The perforated, leather-trimmed steering wheel on the Stonic 3 is a nice touch, as are the two-tone black and grey seats on the Stonic 3 and 4.
Beyond that, the Stonic looks and feels very much like a Kia Rio supermini. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Kia knows how to deliver a clear and logical dashboard. Everything is in the right place – it’s just a little drab.
Getting comfortable shouldn’t be a problem, as all versions come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that’s adjustable for height and reach. Forward visibility is good, but the rear view is restricted by the wide rear pillars. Fortunately all models come with parking sensors as standard, while a reversing camera is fitted to all except the Stonic 2.
A centre storage box doubles up as an armrest in all models, which, when combined with the standard-fit cruise control, makes the Stonic a comfortable companion on a long trip.
In the back, passengers are presented with a sea of gloom. Only a single seatback pocket and a pair of small door pockets are there to lift the mood. It’s a depressing place to sit.
Handling and ride quality: What is the Kia Stonic like to drive?
"The Stonic’s low-slung driving position is matched by ride and handling characteristics that are more akin to a supermini than a compact crossover. This gives it an almost unique feel in a sector dominated by lofty cars with raised seats."
It also means that the suspension is tuned more for handling than for ride comfort. All versions come with 17-inch alloy wheels, which have a tendency to crash into potholes, sending vibrations into the cabin. The Stonic can also feel unsettled over rough surfaces, particularly when cornering.
Despite the keen handling and sharp steering, the Kia Stonic never feels especially fun to drive, especially if you opt for the diesel engine. You can see what Kia was trying to achieve here, but it fails to deliver.
We spent some quality time with a Seat Arona, having spent an equal amount of time with a Kia Stonic. The difference between the two cars is like night and day, with the Arona managing to feel comfortable on a long trip, but surprisingly agile and nimble when cornering.
There are some positives. There’s very little body-roll when cornering, while the low driving position does make you feel like you’re in control. Other compact crossovers make you feel detached from what’s going on beneath the car.
It’s also easy to drive in the city, where the light steering and good forward visibility rise to the fore. The view out of the back is a little restricted, which is where the reversing camera of the Stonic 4 comes in handy.
We also like the way the Stonic offers a straightforward approach to driving. There are no modes to select from or to confuse matters. Kia doesn’t offer a four-wheel-drive version, because it says demand is too low.
MPG and fuel costs: What does a Kia Stonic cost to run?
The Stonic’s fuel economy figures were sourced using the new WLTP laboratory test. As a result, they should be pretty reflective of what you’ll see on a daily basis.
Predictably, the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine offers the best economy, with the potential to offer 56.5mpg. However, unless you spend most of your time on the motorway, we’d recommend the petrol engine.
The 1.0 T-GDi can deliver 47.1mpg with the six-speed manual gearbox, or 46.3mpg when fitted with a seven-speed automatic.
How much should you be paying for a used Kia Stonic?
"The Kia Stonic is still a relatively new car that’s backed by a seven-year warranty, so prices have yet to creep below the £10,000 mark. Indeed, you’ll need to find at least £11,000 for a 67- or 18-plate Stonic. A third of all buyers in 2018 opted for the well-equipped First Edition model, so it would be worth finding one of these."
If you’re after a Stonic Mixx special edition, bank on spending at least £13,000. Alternatively, prices of the newer Stonic Maxx start at around £15,000.
It’s not hard to find a new or nearly-new Stonic for sale with a £1,000 discount, so it pays to shop around. The Stonic isn’t the cheapest compact crossover you can buy, but it’s backed by an excellent warranty and Kia’s reputation for reliability.
Ready to get your top quality Kia Stonic?
- All cars come with a warranty
- Selected dealers only
- All quality checked
1.0T GDi First Edition 5dr
- 26,326 miles
- JCB SEAT Crawley
- Surrey, RH103EQ
Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £326.13, Customer Deposit: £1,873.00, Total Deposit: £1,873.50, Total Charge For Credit: £1,134.18, Total Amount Payable: £13,624.18, Representative APR: 6.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 6.86%
1.6 CRDi 2 5dr
- 39,603 miles
- Gravells Kia Bridgend
- Bridgend, CF313SA
Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £211.80, Customer Deposit: £1,694.00, Total Deposit: £1,694.25, Optional Final Payment: £4,176.00, Total Charge For Credit: £1,988.25, Total Amount Payable: £13,283.25, Representative APR: 9.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 9.44%, Excess Mileage Charge: 4ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000
Is the Kia Stonic right for you?
Wander into the showroom of any mainstream car manufacturer and you’ll be greeted with a compact crossover of some description. So what makes the Kia Stonic different to any of its many rivals?
In truth, not a lot. It follows the same basic formula as the rest, offering a touch more practicality than the supermini upon which it is based, along with some chunky and fashionable SUV styling.
Beyond that, it comes down to brand loyalty, price and peace of mind. The Stonic is backed by Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty and you do get a lot of toys for your money. However, when viewed in the context of its rivals, it feels the least like a crossover. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view.
In isolation, it’s a thoroughly good small car. But there are more authentic compact crossovers available.
What’s the best Kia Stonic model/engine to choose?
Choosing the best engine is easy, because not only is the 1.0-litre T-GDI unit most in-tune with the characteristics of the Stonic, it also makes the most sense. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine delivers 120PS, which is enough to propel the Stonic to 62mph in 9.9 seconds.
It also offers up to 47.1mpg on a combined cycle. This might be around 10mpg less than you’ll see in a Stonic with the 1.6-litre CRDi diesel, but the latter only makes sense if you spend most of your time on the motorway.
As for the trim level, even the basic Stonic 2 offers a generous level of equipment. The spec list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning, rear parking sensors and cruise control. However, we’d upgrade to the Stonic 3, if only for the additional safety equipment.
What other cars are similar to the Kia Stonic?
How long have you got? Every mainstream manufacturer offers a compact crossover of some description, but the Stonic’s chief rivals include the Hyundai Kona, Renault Captur, SEAT Arona, Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Aircross.
The Hyundai Kona is worthy of a special mention as it was designed from the ground up as a compact crossover. Many other cars in this class, including the Kia Stonic, are based on small hatchbacks.
The Stonic also faces an enemy from within. The Kia Xceed is more expensive, but it looks and feels more special than the Stonic.
Quality and finish
First impressions are excellent. Kia has a knack of making its interiors look more upmarket than prices would suggest. It’s clear that it’s trying to follow the Germans.
Unfortunately, look a little closer and things start to unravel. The plastic used on the dashboard, door panels and centre console feel cheap and scratchy. The cost-cutting is especially noticeable in the entry-level Stonic, with the fabric seats feeling a little low-rent, while the silver-finished door handles are a tad flimsy.
Kia has trimmed the steering wheel and gearstick in leather, which helps to raise the level of perceived quality. The flat-bottomed steering wheel in the Stonic 3 is a nice touch.
The Stonic 3 also gets a black high-gloss centre console, faux leather upholstery, automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. For ultimate indulgence, the Stonic 4 features heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless start, faux leather and aluminium pedals.
Although the new Kia Xceed is larger and more expensive, it feels more premium on the inside, which highlights how far Kia has progressed in just a few years. The Stonic is by no means poor, it just lacks sparkle.
Infotainment: touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Kia Stonic
All versions of the Stonic get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and voice control. There’s also a USB port for the front seats, another one for the back, six speakers and audio controls on the steering wheel.
It’s easy to use, helped in no small part by the large and prominent buttons and dials flanking the screen. The display is crisp and clear, although it can be a little slow to respond to inputs.
The Stonic 3 and 4 get an upgraded system with satellite navigation, traffic messaging and a range of connected services. It’s worth the extra expense, but we’d still favour the mapping services offered by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Kia’s navigation has a habit of sending drivers on some obscure routes, especially when avoiding traffic delays.
On the plus side, the sound quality is excellent for a standard audio system, aided by a pair of tweeters mounted in the doors. We also applaud Kia’s decision to put a USB port in the back, because the passengers seated there could use some cheering up.
Space and practicality: Kia Stonic boot space
Although the Stonic and Rio supermini share an identical wheelbase, the Stonic is 70mm taller and 35mm taller. Crucially, the rear overhang has been extended by 70mm, which gives the Stonic a larger boot.
With the rear seats in place, the boot offers 352 litres of space, which is 27 litres more than you get in the Rio. It’s not the largest in the compact crossover segment, but the Stonic’s boot benefits from a wide and tall opening.
There’s a relatively high loading lip, but the Stonic scores well for its 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which fold flat to deliver up to 1,155 litres of luggage capacity. This is good, but it’s not great. For example, the Renault Captur offers up to 536 litres thanks to a sliding rear seat, which is something you don’t get in the Stonic.
You also need to buy the Stonic 4 to benefit from a dual-height boot floor and a luggage net. This seems a bit mean in a compact crossover.
While there’s plenty of shoulder room and headroom in the front, things are a little tighter in the back. Adults will struggle for legroom if there are tall people in the front, while headroom is restricted for all but the shortest of adults. You’d expect more from a compact crossover.
Space for oddments is also at a premium in the back, with Kia offering just one seatback pocket and a pair of small door bins. What’s more, you wouldn’t want to sit in the middle seat for any length of time. There are two ISOFIX points for child car seats, though.
Things are a little better in the front, with the Kia Stonic packing a pair of large door pockets, a big glovebox and a spacious central storage bin. There’s also ample space for a smartphone in the centre console.
There are two cupholders in the front, a light in the glovebox, luggage net hooks in the boot, a case for sunglasses above the windscreen, plus a 12v socket in the centre console.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Kia Stonic?
Although a 99PS 1.4-litre MPI petrol engine was available at launch, it has since been deleted from the Stonic range. It’s no great loss, because it was always overshadowed by the 1.0-litre T-GDi unit.
The turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine produces 120PS, which is enough to propel the Stonic to 62mph in a respectable 9.9 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 114mph. It’s also pretty frugal, offering up to 47.1mpg on a combined cycle. The economy and the 0-62mph time suffer if you opt for the seven-speed automatic transmission.
A 115PS 1.6-litre CRDi engine is offered, but we find it hard to recommend unless you spend a lot of time on the motorway. It’s a characterless engine that will hit 62mph in 10.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 112mph. It also offers 56.5mpg in official tests.
In all cases, the engine sounds coarse and noisy when you’re accelerating hard, while the diesel is audible at idle and motorway speeds. Aside from marginal tax benefits and the improved economy on a long run, we don’t see why you’d choose the 1.6-litre diesel over the peppy 1.0-litre petrol.
As for the transmissions, the six-speed manual gearbox is satisfying enough, but the smooth and relaxed dual-clutch automatic would be our choice. Unfortunately, it’s not available on the entry-level Stonic.
Refinement and noise levels
The Kia Stonic lacks refinement, which is especially noticeable if you’ve experienced the new Xceed. There’s plenty of wind and road noise at motorway speeds, while the firm suspension gives the car an unsettled and fidgety feel.
We’d avoid the 1.6-litre CRDi diesel, which delivers plenty of clatter when idling and a significant amount of noise under load and when cruising. There’s also a curious metallic sound when you lift off the accelerator. The overall effect isn’t great.
Things are no better in the petrol versions of the Stonic. The 1.4-litre MPI four-cylinder engine feels dated and has to be pushed hard to make real progress.
The modern 1.0-litre turbocharged engine is a better unit, but some people won’t like the thrum of the three-cylinder unit. We’d argue that it injects the Stonic with some much needed character, but maybe we’re being too generous. Overall, the Stonic feels like a good car waiting to get out. Unfortunately, it lacks the comfort, refinement and quality we’d expect from a mid-range compact crossover. The Seat Arona is proof that a crossover can be good at everything.
Safety equipment: How safe is the Kia Stonic?
The Kia Stonic has been awarded two safety ratings by Euro NCAP. One is for versions with the full suite of driver assistance systems, the other is for versions without the safety kit.
With everything fitted, the Stonic gets a maximum five-star rating, with scores of 93% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupant protection, 71% for pedestrian safety, and 59% for safety assist technology.
Without the safety pack, these scores drop to 85% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupant protection, 62% for pedestrian safety, and 25% for safety assist technology. Crucially, it earns just a three-star safety rating.
For a five-star car, you need to order the Stonic 3 or 4, or add forward collision-avoidance assist and lane keeping assist to the Stonic 2. The safety kit isn’t available on the Stonic Maxx.
Standard safety equipment includes twin front airbags, twin side airbags, twin curtain airbags, two ISOFIX points, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, tyre pressure monitoring and emergency stop signalling. Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert is only available on the Stonic 4.
All versions come with rear parking sensors and an external temperature display, but the entry-level Stonic misses out on a reversing camera.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Kia Stonic?
The Kia Stonic is a cheap car to insure, with insurance groups ranging from 11 to 14. Thanks to the additional driver assistance systems, the Stonic 3 and 4 are the cheapest to insure.
You could pay more or less to insure a Hyundai Kona, depending on which model you choose. For example, the basic versions slot into group nine, while the most lavish edition commands a group 19 rating.
Insurance on the Seat Arona will be roughly the same as the Stonic, with the Spanish crossover slotting into groups 11 to 18.
VED car tax
Buy a new Kia Stonic after 1 April 2020 and you’ll pay the same rate of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, or road tax), regardless of the engine. That’s because although the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine emits 130g/km of CO2, the diesel surcharge means a first-year ‘showroom tax’ of £215.
The 1.0 T-GDi petrol emits 137g/km or 138g/km of CO2, which places the engine in a higher tax band. However, the cost is the same at £215.
From year two, the rate drops to £150 a year, which is the same for all Kia Stonic models registered on or before 31 March 2020.
Trim levels and standard equipment
There’s no Kia Stonic 1, which effectively means there isn’t an entry-level version available in the UK. The range kicks off with the Stonic 2, which features 17-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and cruise control.
The Stonic Maxx special edition adds 17-inch grey alloy wheels, two-tone paint, roof-coloured door mirrors, privacy glass, a reversing camera and LED rear lights to the mix.
The mid-range Stonic 3 boasts satellite navigation, forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, high-beam assist, cloth and leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers and a leather-trimmed D-cut steering wheel.
Finally, the Stonic 4 features heated seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start, blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, two-tone paint and faux leather upholstery. A lavish First Edition was available at launch, with the Maxx joining the range soon after.
On the inside
How much does it cost to run
Prices, versions and specification
Ask the heycar experts: common questions
Where is the Kia Stonic made?
The Kia Stonic was designed in Europe but the car itself is made at the firm's factory in South Korea.
Is the Kia Stonic a good car?
While there's plenty of kit and a seven-year warranty, the Kia Stonic lacks the rear passenger space of some of its rivals.
heycar editorial team
What insurance group is the Kia Stonic?
The Kia Stonic is a cheap car to insure, with insurance groups ranging from 11 to 14.
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