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Kia Stonic 2021 review: S

Looks super cute on the outside. Does the rest match up?

If you’re after a small car, these days you have to think about whether you’ll buy a small SUV or a regular city hatch. This is Kia’s latest contribution, the Stonic. It’s a small SUV, which is not really bigger than a regular small car, just higher. Which is significant when you’re on the road. 

The Kia Stonic sits under the also small Kia Seltos, and competes with cars like the Mazda CX-3 and the Toyota C-HR. This one I test drove is the Stonic S. It’s the bottom of the range, and costs $24,490 drive-away. Here’s how it did for this week’s family review. 

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What does it look like?

The Kia Stonic looks really fresh, modern, and like a lot of fun! If it were a celebrity it would be someone like Mila Kunis - bouncy and cute. It has sporty angles and a thin grille that suits the car and adds a touch of sophistication. 

The Kia Stonic looks really fresh and modern. The Kia Stonic looks really fresh and modern.

Inside is quite basic which is to be expected for a car in this price bracket. There are fabric seats that are smooth to sit on. The dash and doors are covered in man-made materials but it doesn’t look too budget. There’s a premium steering wheel, with a small flat-bottom section, which is nice. 

The centre console is well designed and everything is clearly laid out to be functional. It’s not swanky, but it’s not bad, either. You’ll still feel good driving it.

Inside is quite basic which is to be expected for a car in this price bracket. Inside is quite basic which is to be expected for a car in this price bracket.

What’s the tech like?

How easy is it to use every day?

The front seats are manually adjustable, there's a key-start ignition and the tailgate opens and closes manually.

There are two cupholders in the front and a small spot for keys and a phone. You’ll get a small centre storage section and bottle holders in each door. 

Rear passengers miss out on directional air vents and there are no cupholders back there either, but that is fairly standard in this category, and you do get bottle holders in the doors. 

Tall people will have trouble sitting in the back seat. Tall people will have trouble sitting in the back seat.

How spacious is it?

I found it just spacious enough for my family of four, and surprisingly, we weren’t super squashed. There isn’t loads of space of course, it’s still a small car and there is no spare room, but as far as fitting in goes, we did. The front has enough leg and headroom for tall people.

The Stonic is spacious enough for my family of four. The Stonic is spacious enough for my family of four.

There's less room in the back for tall people who will find it tricky to get legs in. I’m fine back here, I’m 161cm (5'3"), but taller teenagers or adults will have to angle their legs. My kids are only seven and nine and we just had to compromise on space when there was a tall person driving.

The boot can fit a medium and a small suitcase, and will hold your pram, unless it’s enormous. At 352L it’s bigger than a Mazda CX-3, but smaller than what's offered in the Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona. 

  • Boot space is rated at 352 litres. Boot space is rated at 352 litres.
  • There's enough room to fit a medium and a small suitcase. There's enough room to fit a medium and a small suitcase.

How does it drive?

It’s the driving that I think lets the Stonic down. Small cars, and yes even small SUVs I’ve driven, are usually enjoyable to drive because they’re so zippy and fun to get around in. 

This Stonic S has a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine, and it’s not quick off the mark. It almost struggles to get going. Once it’s going it’s fine, but if you’re at the lights and you think you can floor it to get in front of someone - don’t, because you can’t get in front in this car.

The Stonic shares the same 1.4-litre four-cylinder as the Rio. The Stonic shares the same 1.4-litre four-cylinder as the Rio.

I found it sluggish, which is not why you’re buying a small SUV. To get more pulling power, you’ve got to spend a lot more on the top-of-the-range Stonic GT-Line, with a three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine under the bonnet. 

Apart from that, it handles well, the steering turns easily, and the turning circle's small, so it’s good to whip into parks. You’ll also get a decent reverse parking camera to help out. 

How safe is it?

For safety, the Stonic has front and side airbags for driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. 

Advanced safety includes Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist protection, lane keep assist and lane follow assist. This model doesn’t have extras like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. 

You will get two ISOFIX points and three top tether points across the second row seat for child seats

How much does it cost to own?

The Kia Stonic costs $24,490 drive-away, which is great value. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 6.7L/100km which is getting up there for a car of this size, and I think it reiterates the need for a hybrid version on every model. 

It does take cheaper 91RON fuel, but I averaged 8.7L/100km but did only city/suburban driving this week, which naturally uses more fuel than highway driving.

The Kia Stonic S auto kicks off at $24,490 drive-away/ The Kia Stonic S auto kicks off at $24,490 drive-away/

The warranty is seven years/unlimited km, which is ahead of the mainstream pack (most being at five years/unlimited km). You'll receive one year of complimentary roadside assist, which can stretch up to eight years if you take the car to an authorised Kia dealer for scheduled service.

Speaking of which, servicing is required every 12 months/15,000km, and a capped price program is available, setting the maximum price you will pay for the first seven scheduled services (for up to seven years/105,000km).


The Wrap

The Kia Stonic S certainly looks the part and has good enough space for a family of four, with a big boot size for this small SUV category. Plus, there’s good safety and technology. I think it's a little sluggish to drive and I’d prefer more zip if I was buying a small SUV. 

I gave the Stonic S a family rating of 6.8 out of 10 and my kids gave it a 7.5. They love this colour blue. 

Likes

Exterior design
Boot space
Affordable entry point

Dislikes

Slow off-the-mark
Fuel consumption (for a small SUV)
Rear seat tight for taller people

Scores

Nedahl:

3.4

The Kids:

3.8

$21,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.