The recipe for the compact crossover is relatively simple: take a regular supermini, give it the look of a small SUV, add a strange name, and, hey presto, the latest version of the hottest thing since sliced bread is born. Make no mistake, the compact crossover segment is burgeoning, to the extent that a manufacturer without a pumped-up supermini in its range is a little like a New Year’s Eve party without a firework. Indeed, the humble supermini is in danger of being written off as last year’s model. Step forward the Kia Stonic: based on the Rio hatchback, blessed with chunky, SUV-esque styling, and lumbered with a daft name. Kia says Stonic is a mashup of ‘speedy’ and ‘tonic’, designed to portray a youthful and effervescent image. No jokes about gin and tonic, please.
This is Kia’s first compact crossover, and the company is hoping to shift between 10,000 and 15,000 units in the UK this year. It might be a rare sight today, but by the end of the year, the Stonic will be a familiar part of the automotive furniture in the UK. It helps that the Stonic looks good. It might not offer the standout qualities of the Nissan Juke or Toyota C-HR – some would say that’s a good thing – but it does more than just blend into what is a me-too sector. People have stopped to take a look when the car has been parked in a high street, while a couple of passers-by have asked me a few questions about Kia’s latest model. The Stinger might be grabbing the headlines right now, but the Stonic is more bread and butter, and is likely to find a home on more driveways as a result.
Our test car is a ‘First Edition’, one of two trim levels in the UK, which stands out thanks to its two-tone paintwork. The roof, wing mirrors and rear spoiler are painted orange – other colours are available – while the body is finished in Urban Grey. Truth be told, the entry-level Stonic ‘2’ looks a tad dull without the two-tone finish, but there’s more to the First Edition than a fancy paint job. The equipment list on my car is generous and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, reversing camera, keyless entry and start and heated front seats and steering wheel. The latter two have been put to good use since the Stonic arrived at the start of December. As regular readers will know, I’m a sucker for the Apple CarPlay, heated seats and heated steering wheel combo. It’s safe too, with lane departure warning, high beam assist, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. This is in addition to the standard kit on the ‘2’, which includes DAB radio, climate control, roof rails, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and cornering lights. You’re unlikely to want for anything, especially when you throw in Kia’s marvellous, class-leading seven-year warranty.
There’s only one diesel engine available: a 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi engine, which is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Kia claims that it will return 67.3mpg combined, but after 1,500 miles since it arrived, I’ve achieved 47.4mpg. Those miles have been racked up on two return trips to London and family duties over Christmas. I’m confident the figure will break the 50mpg mark once the engine has loosened up a bit.
At £20,495 plus £545 for the fancy paint, it’s around £2,000 more than a Kia Rio First Edition with metallic paint. Initial impressions would suggest that it is worth the additional outlay, but time will tell if I feel the same after six months behind the wheel. In the meantime, you’ll find me enjoying the comfort and joy of a heated steering wheel and driver’s seat. Simple pleasures!
Date arrived 1st December 2017
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 57.6/74.3/67.3mpg on test 47.4mpg
The First Edition two-tone paint job is a visual treat and delivers genuine standout qualities.
Fuel economy is 20mpg down on the official figure, but this should improve with time.