A malaria drug by the name of quinine and a mixture of sugar and soda were the constituents of the famous shandy used by the upper-crust Anglo Indian fraternity along with their gin during the occupation of India by the British Raj. It was rumoured that this concoction called Tonic in combination with gin was used to make the malaria medication more palatable (Great excuse methinks). It is no easy task, to come up with names for car models especially with the proliferation of models being introduced by all brands, so it is likely that the honcho at Kia entrusted with the task of naming models, would have probably derived his inspiration at a bar downing a gin/tonic, to have named Kia’s newest and smallest SUV, the Stonic. S apparently indicates speed and he has been provided justification by a recent study at a university in Ukraine which found that Gin/tonic does speed up ones metabolism. So do Read on to find out whether the Stonic does live upto her name.
The Platinum Graphite and two tone Lime-Green car on test was a pretty sight. Well-proportioned and stylish with an abundance of little designer cues, it was hard not to fall in love with it. The smart 17 inch alloys shod with 205/55 Continental rubbers and black contrast rubbing strips, lent her a nice side profile. Though Kia calls it their smallest SUV, I would hesitate, and call it a small crossover hatch. It’s got a ground clearance of 183 mm which is about average for the class. As a comparison, its family competitor the Hyundai Venue rides at 190mm.
Under the tutelage of its chief designer Peter Schreyer Kia has carved itself a niche for presenting designer cars at affordable prices, and the Stonic is a great testament to that, as it has already annexed the iF product design award and the prestigious German red dot award for car design. Need I say more, thumbs up then for the Kia Stonic’s euro inspired head turning looks!
Mech & Tech
If the exterior styling was a revelation with the Stonic displaying its “power to surprise” more was to follow in the interior. The fully specced version tested had all the bells and whistles and some not seen in this segment of car like cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring. It’s got the now must have smart key for keyless entry and push start/stop button, power everything from mirrors, windows and electric steering with full rake and height adjust etc. The engine is a three pot 998cc overhead cam unit, turbocharged and developing 118bhp @ 6000rpm. It also develops an impressive 181NM of torque @ 4000rpm which is quite impressive for such a small displacement engine and is coupled to a seven speed DCT transmission. All-round disc brakes are on offer as well.
Small practical touches like luggage net, sunglass holder, illuminated vanity mirrors, and bag hooks and boot light are all features that would endear to the family motorist and female drivers. The seats too are beautifully sculpted and covered in faux leather upholstery in this premium spec model. All doors have bottle holders and the front ones can accommodate one litre bottles as well. If one were to nit-pick the only boxes not ticked,(available in some markets) in this car are a sun roof and electric adjustment for the seats. So full marks to Kia for a well-equipped and excellently packaged practical car.
It is an easy car to get comfortable in as the seats have myriad adjustments and the steering too adjusts for height and rake. It’s one of those ‘get in and press the button’ getaways so no fiddly keys to grapple with. The seven speed auto is really good with the DCT setup, and gears keep moving up without any perceptible, gaps or jerks. As the torque spread is well coupled to the transmission and peaks circa 4,000 rpm, the car feels very lively and sprightly and I did not notice any gaps in its acceleration which was very linear. For a 3 pot one litre unit the acceleration is brisk and the quoted 10.2 seconds to the 100kmh sprint is very good. During hard acceleration I did feel that the car was quicker than the figures suggested but due to traffic conditions couldn’t put a stopwatch to it. However the manual change was not as instantaneous as the box left to its own devices and took a wee bit longer to respond to downward changes. On full blown sole to the carpet acceleration, the engine does feel strained but yet manages to reach the upper echelons of the rev range with a not unpleasant exhaust tone.
The test car had only a few hundred kilometres and did feel a bit tight and the brakes too felt a bit draggy to engage, but with a few more kilometres both the engine and brakes will bed in well. In fairness the all disc brake set up did stand up quite well to emergency braking when more pedal pressure was applied and is more than adequate for the car. The owner told me that it was very tight when it arrived out-of-the-box and has loosened up a lot more since, so once it hits the thousand kilometre mark and has its first service, it should have all settled down.
The suspension is McPherson strut at the front and torsion beam at the rear, and set to a medium hard setting. Much to my surprise the ride was not compromised on the comfort stakes and rode the rumble strips and pot holes, ripples with great composure without any backlash onto the electric steering. However this set up really came to life and was a bonus during spirited driving as the car felt well planted and cornered in a nice controlled manner. I guess the lower ride height compared to conventional SUVs helps keep the body roll to a minimum as do the prolific grip from the premium Continental rubbers.
I must say that it is a very enjoyable small car to drive and the power delivery is very linear and sprightly, hence the fun coefficient is very high. Even on kick down, the transmission gets to the right gear pretty quickly, and is adequate enough to get you out of tricky traffic situations. The engine is smooth and vibration free even at idle from the cabin, but if you do open the door and the bonnet then you will hear and see the typical three cylinder concerto, but it’s not a negative or a complaint as that is the inherent nature of three pots.
Living with the Stonic
It will be a great family car to have, especially for the upwardly mobile with young families or young fashionistas who want to project their youthful personalities etc… The front seats are very commodious and there is plenty of head and leg room, but as you move to the rear, you notice that leg room is a bit restricted for taller persons. Head room seems adequate. Though the rear foot well is flat and the centre tunnel intrudes minimally, it is nigh impossible for an averagely built person to be comfortable hence the centre seat should be exclusively reserved for the junior in the family. We did manage three adults in the rear but it was a bit of a squeeze. The doors open wide and ingress and egress is easy, and coupled to the keyless entry and start option, mom would be delighted that she does not have to dive into her handbag in search of keys, after every super market stop. Additionally the electric steering which really lightens up at parking and the small turning radius and of course the illuminated vanity(powder) mirrors would ensure that mom is relaxed after her illegal U-turn and looks her best during the school run. The roll back facility will also make sure that she does not pick up untoward rear dents during parking, which should make dad happy I guess. Juniors are well taken care of too with phone chargers/ cup holders all close at hand, and for couch potato drivers who can’t fiddle with the wiper stalk switches, rain sensors will keep your screen clean. The practical options in this car are too numerous to mention but the 7 inch touchscreen infotainment screen with voice recognition and 3.5 inch supervision cluster will, provide a myriad of information to keep the tech minded motorist happy and well informed whilst the six speaker stereo will soothe your tensions away.
The steering and gear shift too are covered in faux leather and provide a nice tactile feel, whilst the climate control does its best to keep the inside temperatures low assisted by the fully tinted rear windows. Boot space is adequate at 352 litres about average for the class, but the 60/40 split fold rear seats when deployed can boost the cargo space considerably. The inside fit and finish is great, though some hard scratchy plastic bits are seen on the dashboard and door cards but is not uncommon in this segment of car.
It will be a great car for a small family with sporty pretensions as it is certainly a head turner and at the offered price point, the features and style and performance are really in excess of what one could expect.
The Stonic has earned itself a 5 star rating at the euro NCAP crash ratings and comes equipped with six airbags, vehicle stability management system, reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, tyre pressure monitor, hill start assist and more. All these safety gizmos should keep you safe as one would want in a modern car, unless of course you have fallen foul with the local drug or Ethanol mafia, in which case god help you, or if you have a politician god father you could borrow a fully armoured bullet proof chariot at taxpayer expense for your safety and well-being as no Stonic or other similar vehicle would do.
Fuel Econ & Price
A 45 litre fuel tank, is a premium for a car in this segment and bodes well for long distance commutes. The quoted fuel consumption figures vary greatly depending on which source you consult, but a combined figure of 7 litres /100 km (14.28 km/litre) seems to be the average. Don’t read too much into these figures as real world driving conditions, traffic intensity, wind conditions, load, speed all have a bearing and till the industry agrees on a testing format as close to real world driving conditions as possible, it will always be a guesstimate.
Most manufacturers including Kia do not provide any fuel consumption figures in their brochures or sales material currently. The engine is equipped with the stop/start function as well, hence this should certainly lend itself to better economy. As the engine is small in displacement, it requires only a measly 3.5 litres of oil, hence servicing costs will be pretty cheap. However it is recommended to use the more expensive premium fuel of 95 octane which would add a small dent to your purse.
The base version of the car is priced at Rs. 4,950,000 which is tremendous value, for such a great offering. At this price point there is no competitor but at the premium segments going up to Rs. 5,550,000 more competition comes in, in the form of the MG ZS, Hyundai Venue and some Suzuki models, but in my view it is extremely hard to beat this offer on Style, price, value and features. Kia has indeed the “power to surprise”, though it seems a foregone conclusion now.
Kia has now built itself a global reputation for building quality cars, with designer flair at affordable prices, but have not compromised on quality as in most car reliability global surveys is placed in the top two slots, which is amply demonstrated by the offer of their astounding warranties. Servicing costs too will be minimal as the lubricant volumes are small and with the 150,000 km five year warranty, backed by the huge US dollar 45 billion Kia conglomerate, and the SLRs 1 billion workshop facility in Sri Lanka one is assured of 1825 nights of restful slumber. The 150,000 km warranty is a huge bonus for mile crunchers as it gives a motorist 82 kilometres per day which is almost impossible to achieve on a daily basis in Sri Lanka, unless you are a taxi driver spending over six hours behind the wheel in continuous driving and to my mind is far in excess of the needs of a regular family motorist. The purchase price also includes three free services and is an on the road offer with registration, number plates etc. which is a great convenience for the customer.
The Stonic caters to both, the style conscious youth, as well as the conservative family dad and mom with sporty pretensions, as they offer a staggering choice of 29 colour combinations including 4 roof colours that you can combine as a two tone and as SUBWAY says, you can make your own sandwich any which way you like. There are six trim and interior seat packages, which is a first for me in a car in this segment, which augurs pretty well for the customers. Kia has certainly turned on the charm with the Stonic, and it shows.
Direct Injection, Turbo
118bhp @ 6,000rpm
181Nm @ 4,000rpm
Front wheel drive
Front MacPherson Strut
Rear Torsion Beam
Front Vent. Disc
Wheels & Tyres
205/55R17 all round
0-100km/h in 10.2s
Top Speed 185km/h
Kerb Weight 1,185kg
Fuel Tank 45L
Boot Volume 352L