YOU might think the rage in SUVs is just a fashion craze.
But there's a certain logic in owning an SUV that may have escaped notice. Even if you never go off-road, never carry huge loads and are yet to take up hang-gliding or outdoor pursuits.
The attraction is in the accommodation. Being taller than the average hatchback passengers sit more vertically therefore maximising the legroom within a compact length. In other words the footprint remains modest despite generous cabin dimensions.
It's the auto equivalent of adding an extra storey to a house, in fact.
A good example is the new Kia Stonic, the South Korean firm's first venture into the oh-so-popular B-segment SUV market.
Designed in Europe at the firm's Frankfurt studios and based on the Rio supermini, it's just 2.580mm long but 70mm higher than the Rio boosting visibility as well as improving cabin and luggage room. The hatchback boot holds a generous 352 litres of cargo with rear seats in place and 1,155 litres when they are folded down.
There's a choice of three engines including petrol and diesel. The model tested was the 1.6 turbo diesel, also used in the Cee'd range. Six-speed manual gearbox is standard and all the versions are front wheel drive.
The diesel engine, with a reasonable 108bhp, has enough urge to allow the Stonic to match or better rivals' performance, although the unit is fairly audible especially if you hang on to the gears. It's good for 112mph and 62mph comes up in just less than 11 seconds, all this while averaging close to 50mpg - the official combined figure is 67.3mpg.
While the Stonic is undeniably more roomy than most hatchbacks and pleasingly practical, it lacks little in the style stakes. Cute proportions and smooth lines give it a distinctly individual appearance without reducing its usefulness.
And it really comes into its own weaving down windy country lanes when the precise steering and firmish ride endow it with a hatchback-like feel. Pot holes and road irregularities can be somewhat uncomfortable for passengers but the lack of cornering roll is an advantage to keen drivers.
The First Edition version is well equipped with seven-inch touchscreen, incorporating sat nav. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is fitted across the range.
Blind spot detection and lane departure warning sytem are standard features in the First edition as is autonomous emergency braking - all useful safety features that are not usually found in models costing around the Â£20,000 mark.
With two-tone paintwork, and colour-matched, wing mirrors, roof and rear spoiler, the Stonic certainly stands out from the crowd. The cabin is smart enough with more colour coding. The materials, though durable and pleasing enough, don't impress as being particularly luxurious.