KIA'S Stonic is a crossover SUV that has plenty going for it in the booming sectior of the car market.
The newcomer is available in two trim levels called ‘2' and ‘First Edition' with a choice of two petrol and one diesel engines.
It is only available with front-wheel-drive and is priced from £16,295. It is built on the same platform as the all-new Kia Rio, but offers extra space and practicality.
The First Edition cars like the one I sampled have the roof, mirror casings and rear spoiler in either orange, red or lime green depending on the main bodywork colour and the cabin also features flashes of colour on the seats, steering wheel, across the dashboard and around the centre console.
The Stonic sits on 17-inch alloys and looks tidy thanks to its sporty muscular lines and jazzy colour scheme. It features the signature Kia tiger grille as well asa sporty lower intake grille, roof rails and LED daytime running lights.
Inside the cabin is neatly styled but there is a little too much hard black plastic for my taste. Neverthelessthe controls, dials and instruments are well positioned and easy to use.
All Stonic models are well equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range.The entry level grade ‘2' models have a seven-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker sound system, DAB radio, MP3 compatibility, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, all-round electric windows, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, automatic headlights, remote locking and electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors.
Opt for the First Edition I drove and you will get a touchscreen navigation and infotainment system, black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, heated front seats, a D-shaped steering wheel, LED rear lights, privacy glass, smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, automatic air conditioning, additional chrome window trim and a dual-height luggage floor.
Buyers can choose betweena 1.4-litre 98bhp petrol engine which is the cheapest model, a 1.0-litre 118bhp three-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.6-litre 108bhp diesel. All are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The car was fitted with the three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol model which is surprisingly good for 60mph in 9.9 seconds before going on to 115mph. It has stop/start technology and a claimed combined fuel figure of 56.5mpg although I only averaged just under 40mpg probably due to the weather and driving conditions.
It may be small but the three-pot did not luck punch and it always felt willing and lively and cruised at the motorway speed limit without fuss.
The steering is sharp and accurate and the suspension coped well with most surfaces. The car did suffer a little in strong cross winds but otherwise it was a nice drive with little sign of body roll.
The Stonic offers room for four adults to travel in comfort and the boot provides 352 litres of space increasing to 1,115 litres with the split rear seats folded. The First Edition model also offers extra storage space under the boot floor.
As you would expect the Kia offers all the latest safety technology and it carries the Korean company's unmatched seven-year/100,000 mile warranty.