Kia Stonic Review
The Kia Stonic is an affordable small SUV with funky looks and an industry-leading warranty, but alternatives are roomier and have posher-feeling interiors.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Easy to drive
- Reassuring seven-year warranty
- Colourful personalisation options
What's not so good
- Cramped back seats
- Rather noisy at speed
- Cabin feels cheap in places
Kia Stonic: what would you like to read next?
Forget the Da Vinci Code; if Dan Brown wanted to write a book about mind-bending conundrums, he should have tasked his characters with choosing a new compact SUV, such as this Kia Stonic. There are dozens of these jacked-up hatchbacks on sale, from the diminutive SEAT Arona to the comfortable VW T-Roc and the roomy Kia Sportage.
Under the skin, the Kia Stonic shares plenty of components with the Hyundai Kona, but unlike its bold-looking cousin, it doesn’t really have what it takes to stand out from this ever-growing crowd; unless you pay extra for one of its snazzy two-tone paint jobs.
You needn’t stop there, though, because you can also deck the Kia Stonic’s interior with a few colourful inserts and details. These certainly help make the Stonic’s cabin easy on the eye, but they can’t disguise the fact that many of the interior trims are made from hard, cheap-feeling plastics.
Much nicer to touch is the Kia Stonic’s standard touchscreen infotainment system. Like the VW T-Roc, it comes with smartphone mirroring as standard, but it isn’t quite so easy to use on the move.
Unlike many other small SUVs, the Kia Stonic’s jacked-up body doesn’t result in it having a particularly practical interior.
The Kia Stonic also loses out to the likes of the larger VW T-Roc in terms of passenger space. Sure, you have enough space to stretch out in the front, but lofty passengers will wish there was a little more headroom and legroom behind.
There isn’t quite as much space in the Kia Stonic’s boot as you get in the T-Roc either, but you’ll find it’s just as easy to drive in town thanks to its raised seating position and large windows that give you a good view out.
The Kia’s 1.4-litre petrol engine isn’t particularly powerful, so the perkier 1.0-litre petrol is a better bet if you take in a mix of town and country roads. That said, it still isn’t quite as much fun to drive on a twisty road as a SEAT Arona.
If long journeys are more your thing, skip the petrol engines and go for the 1.6-litre diesel instead – it’s a little sluggish but uses much less fuel on motorways. Unfortunately, the Kia Stonic’s tyres produce a fair amount of noise at speed, but at least there isn’t a great deal of wind noise to worry about.
You can also get some upgraded driver assistance features for a little extra peace of mind, including automatic emergency braking, but you’ll find plenty of these features come as standard on many other small SUVs.
This theme runs throughout the Kia Stonic. It’s neither the most spacious, nor the most stylish small SUV on sale but it is easy to drive, relatively cheap to run and comes with a reassuring seven-year warranty.
If that’s an important consideration for you when buying a car, head over to our Kia Stonic deals page to see how much you can save, or read our detailed interior, practicality and driving sections for more information.
Is the Kia Stonic AWD?
The Kia Stonic is front-wheel-drive only, regardless of which engine and gearbox you pick. That said, it still has enough grip to deal with a slippery leaf-ridden country lane.
Where is the Kia Stonic made?
Unlike many other Kias, the Kia Stonic isn’t built at the firm’s factory in Zilina, Slovakia. Instead, it’s built in South Korea at Kia’s Sohari Plant in Gwangmyeong.
When did the Kia Stonic come out?
The Kia Stonic made its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show in Germany in September and went on sale later that same year.
Is the Kia Stonic available in automatic?
Yes. You can get the Kia Stonic with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Like the ones used in many small SUVs, this automatic gearbox is of the twin-clutch variety, meaning it can be a little jerky at very slow speeds but changes gear more quickly than a conventional automatic gearbox.
The Kia Stonic’s interior is easy to use, but alternatives offer more space and a more interesting design
The Kia Stonic has a high driving position but it’s hard to get comfy at the wheel and space is tight for taller passengers in the rear seats
It's great to see so many hooks and tether points in the boot, but it's a real shame that the adjustable floor is only standard on the top-spec models
All versions of the Kia Stonic have manual adjustment for the seats and the levers are light and easy to use. However, a perfect driving position is hard to achieve because making minor adjustments is tricky. At least the seats are height adjustable so you can get a great view out whether you’re tall or small.
The back seats aren’t quite so accommodating. They’re fine for short journeys and the Isofix points are easy to locate but anyone more than six-feet tall will find it a tight squeeze – especially with regards to legroom. What’s missing is a rear seat that slides backward and forward like you get in the Citroen C3 Aircross.
The Kia Stonic is well prepared for storing all the nick nacks that come part and parcel with small children.
The glovebox isn’t huge but just big enough to hold the car’s manual and a small bottle of water. The front door pockets can fit a 1.5-litre bottle and a 0.5-litre each while those in the back are only slightly smaller.
There’s also a deep central cubby, a couple of cupholders in the front and a place to put your wallet under the climate-control buttons. Top-spec models also get a USB port for the rear seats and a 12V socket in the front as well.
Just like its back seats, the Kia Stonic’s boot is also on the small side – its 352-litre capacity is significantly less than what you get in the likes of the Citroen C3 Aircross (520 litres).
Top-spec models come with an adjustable boot floor that halves the height of the load lip but doesn’t eliminate it completely. That said, there’s enough space under the cover for a soft bag and you get a total of six hooks and tethers to keep your luggage secure. There’s also a curry hook on the bottom of the parcel shelf.
The rear seats fold in a two-way (60:40) from the boot so you can carry something long and still have space for a passenger in the back. With the seats folded the space increases to 1,155 litres. The floor is almost completely flat making it easier to load bulky items.
The Kia Stonic is easy to drive around town and quiet at a cruise but the diesel model sounds grumpy when accelerating heavily. However, the turbo petrol will suit most people
The Kia Stonic feels best navigating tight city streets but it’s also pretty relaxing out on the open road – just don’t expect much excitement
You can get the Kia Stonic with a range of one diesel and two petrol engines, ranging in power from 99- to 120hp.
Your best bet is the 120hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol that’s quicker and cheaper to run than the 99hp 1.4-litre petrol. It feels nippy around town and can zip in and out of openings in traffic. It also gets pretty close to its advertised fuel economy of 55mpg – expect around 45mpg in the real world. However, load it up with passengers and it soon starts to struggle especially on steep hills.
If you do plan to carry people and/or luggage regularly in the Kia Stonic, the 1.6-litre diesel pulls strong and rarely feels out of puff. It’s also the engine to go for if you do lot’s of motorway miles because, if driven carefully, it can get pretty close to it’s advertised fuel consumption of 67mpg.
The Kia Stonic feels great around town. The raised seating position helps with visibility and standard rear parking sensors make fitting into a tight spot pretty easy. Big mirrors and small blind spots also help with manoeuvring. Top-spec cars also come with a reversing camera that is clear and has guidelines to help squeeze into really tight spaces.
The Kia’s light and progressive clutch means even after hours in traffic your left foot won’t get tired, but there’s also a seven-speed automatic available.
The Kia Stonic’s light steering is great around town but out on the motorway you need to make a multitude of tiny corrections to keep it going straight, and you also have to deal with some road noise and a pronounced thrum from the diesel engine.
The Kia Stonic is a very relaxing way to travel the countryside, provided you keep your speed to reasonable levels. The suspension soaks up bumps well but there is quite a bit of body lean so – for the benefit of your passengers – it’s best to enjoy the scenery and drive the Stonic at a relaxed pace.
For a bit of extra peace of mind, choose a 3 or 4 model. These get automatic emergency braking as standard that slams on the brakes hard if it senses an imminent collision. However, the Stonic only scored a pretty poor three stars out of five in its crash tests with Euro NCAP, partly because this feature should be standard across the range these days.