What are you driving?
Another entry into the ridiculously popular compact crossover segment, the Kia Stonic. We've already commented on the folly of combining the words 'speedy' and 'tonic' to name a car that is in fact neither, but then again, the supermini-on-stilts class is more about image and style than practicality. That's abundantly clear when you take a look inside, as despite its jacked-up appearance, the Stonic isn't significantly bigger than the cheaper Kia Rio with which it shares its platform and running gear.
The Kia 'Tiger' grille and angular lights sit well up front, with some interesting detailing on the flanks alleviating the slab-sided look that's usually unavoidable on crossovers. Viewed in plan, you'll note that the C-pillar seems to have been extended across the roof like a sort of handle, a cool effect that's especially noticeable if you choose one of the brighter colours. For a car aimed at active trendy urbanites, whatever and whomever those may be, it hits the spot visually.
Nonetheless, the interior is a little disappointing when compared with the exterior's extravagance. The usual infotainment stuff like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is present and correct on the standard-fit seven-inch touchscreen, along with sensible control placement and a good driving position, but there's just no design flair and with some questionable-feeling plastics and space issues for bigger adults in the rear seats, it doesn't quite live up to expectations.
Name its best bits
Apart from the external appearance (though we'd shy away from some of the louder colours), the Kia Stonic's strongest trait is probably the driving experience that it offers. Now, a taut chassis and feelsome steering won't be priorities for buyers of this type of car, and Kia has recognised that. Instead, it's got easy-to-use controls, excellent forward visibility and enough performance from the 1.4-litre petrol engine both to zip around city streets and carry out longer journeys without too much fuss. Incidentally, it's this engine that Kia reckons will be the most popular choice in Ireland, though the top spec K4 model comes with the more powerful and torquier 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged motor. There's also a naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre petrol and 1.6-litre CRDi diesel to choose from.
Anything that bugs you?
Since we've discerned that the Stonic is not what you'd class as a true driver's car, the fact that the ride is quite stiff is a bit of a surprise. All bar the entry-level K1 model sit on 17-inch wheels, so it's a trait that's shared almost across the board. While the high-speed damping is fine, bumps and surface imperfections are very evident around town and on smaller country roads. It's something that we raised as a potential concern even on our first drive of the car on smooth German tarmac, and it doesn't do the car any favours.
How much to get one on my driveway?
This K3 model with the 1.4-litre petrol engine comes in at €22,599. On PCP finance, that equates to monthly repayments of €250.37 based on a €6,000 deposit, a guaranteed minimum future value of €9,040 and 3.9 per cent APR. The top-spec K4 costs €24,599, but adds niceties like dual-zone air conditioning and blind spot detection.
And why have you given it this rating?
Despite their prevalence on our roads, compact crossovers offer precious little to get excited about other than image. Kia has made a valiant attempt to spice things up, but the Stonic is still too average in key areas to really make an impression. We're still waiting for a car in this segment that's truly desirable. Also, when you look at what you can get for the same money in Kia's own range, the pricing is a little hard to stomach.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Kia Stonic that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.