A close friend of mine suggested that I title this piece Super-Stonic and in many ways Kia New Zealand’s plucky new compact hatch fits this label, it’s crammed full of modern tech, handles nicely and is easy on the eye so very super. But I do have some reservations about the engine.
Stonic is a rather odd word, however, Kia says that it’s a ‘portmanteau word’ (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel or brunch – yes I had to look that up). So Stonic is a crossover between speedy and tonic, but although the super little compact crossover is a tonic in terms of fun and well-being, speedy it aint.
My review model was the Limited option and with it came a 1.4L naturally-aspirated DOHC CVVT engine married to a 6-speed auto gearbox. In theory this should be pretty good considering that it’s in a vehicle that’s the size of a shoebox and weighs about the same, however, in reality it delivers its 74kW sparingly and its 133Nm of torque from way up at 4,000rpm. What’s more, the 6-speeds don’t seem to understand how best to offer a suitable gear, it’s all rather stressed when you press the accelerator pedal. Luckily, Kia offers a 1L Turbo option which despite fewer ccs, presents the same 74kW of power but 39 more Nm from as low as 1,500rpm AND it’s strapped to a 7-speed DCT gearbox, giving a fuel-efficiency of 5.4L/100km!
With that out of the way, the Stonic itself is a city-dwelling 4.1m long. 1.5m wide barrel of joy. It’s colours are vibrant (mine was mighty yellow with a black roof) and it’s spacious enough to carry five – if the fifth is slight. Up front it showcases Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, LED lights and a skid plate, while its profile has sharp contour lines, contrast black protection over the wheel arches and sills and in my case, 17-inch alloys.
The rear features a roofline spoiler and a raked window, more protective black skirting and a lower skid plate, plus with the Limited and GT Line+ models 3-dimensional LED rear combination lamps. The exterior is good, but inside is where it really becomes super.
It’s roomier than I thought it would be, with ample room between driver and front passenger, and the rear for that matter plus there’s 332L of luggage space with all the seats upright. Driver comfort is good thanks to a tilt/slide composite leather wheel and the composite leather seat itself is supportive. Finishing is Kia good with chrome-style accents where possible and some high-gloss blacks thrown in too. Kia has crammed an awful lot of tech into this compact cross and much of it is accessible via the centre-dash mounted 8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Apple and Android connectivity for starters, plus a reasonably powered 6-speaker stereo which also plays their ‘sounds of nature’ – the cafe seemed appropriate. Sat Nav, a sharp and clear reversing camera, smart cruise control, hill start assist, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert, you can even start the engine with the keyfob.
The instrument cluster comes with both traditional dials and a 4.2-inch TFT offering up some extra titbits of data for those that require it but the thing to point out is that regardless of whether it’s switches, dials, data or connectivity, it’s all well within arms reach and very intuitive.
Ok, so I was pretty harsh on the 1.4L upfront and in actual fact (aside from its erraticness) it performed well in my day to day running around the town. It’s not the type of vehicle that people challenge you at the lights with anyway. Even with the family on board it didn’t seem to struggle on the likes of College hill and other similar gradients and it’s very easy to park with a good turning circle should you choose nor to listen to the navigation.
This compact Kia cross offers up 183mm of ground clearance for those that are brave enough to venture off the tarmac and its near 2.6m wheelbase with limited body overhang means that there’s a pleasant amount of arrival and departure angles available,so kerbs and sleeping policeman are not worthy of consideration.
Kia New Zealand’s new Stonic doesn’t quite reach super-stonic levels but it is packed full of toys, is priced well and mixes around the town and surrounding areas with a funky sense of fun.
Pics by Silvana Fontoura