FIRST, let's get that name out of the way. Stonic apparently comes from a mash-up of speedy and tonic, in which case it's just bawful. And not 100 per cent correct either.
That said, though it's not exactly speedy, or a ‘tonic', the South Korean company's first entry into the rapidly expanding small SUV market, is a fairly decent drive and Kia is eventually hoping to sell 100,000 a year across Europe.
With competition from the likes of the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, SEAT Arona, and Citroen C3 Aircross amongst others, it won't be a cinch.
The Stonic is based on the platform of the latest Rio supermini but is 70mm taller, to give it that slightly more rugged, crossover stance, and has a longer overhang at the rear to maximise luggage and passenger space.
In the UK, Stonic is available in seven versions based on three engines and Kia's now-familiar trim grades - 2, 3 and 4.
Standard features include 17-inch alloys, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, electrically adjustable, heated and power folding door mirrors, Bluetooth, and automatic headlight control.
There is a seven-inch display with a DAB radio and MP3 compatibility, and on 3 and 4 grades, this is upgraded to a seven-inch touchscreen navigation system with Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom Live. With large, easy-to-tap icons, both are clear and simple to use.
As well as life-saving safety equipment such as Forward Collision Assist and a Lane Keeping Assist System - a rarity in the sector - the Stonic 3 also features, blind spot detection with rear traffic alert, a reversing camera system, automatic air conditioning, an automatic defog system, auto wipers and privacy glass for the rear windows and tailgate.
The neat interior - the number of buttons and switches has been kept to a minimum and what ones there are, are in the right place - has been designed around the displays for those connectivity technologies. The central display screen is at the same height as the main instrument cluster, making it easier for the driver to absorb information quickly with the minimum of distractions.
Black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents give the Stonic 3 a plush feel to the neat cabin, along with satin chrome finish interior and door handles and a sporty D-shaped steering wheel with leather trim. It feels robust and solidly built though the plush feel is let down by the hard plastic surfaces and lack of soft-touch materials.
It is fairly roomy though with class-leading shoulder room and generous head and legroom. However, if you need to squeeze three adults across the rear seats, it's best that they know each other well, though that's true of most cars in the class.
At 352-litres - 1,155 with the rear seats folded flat - there's enough room for the weekly family shop or a folded baby buggy.
Three modern and efficient engines are available, headed by Kia's busy, little 1.0-litre T-GDi delivering 118bhp, and the 114bhp 1.6-litre CRDi 3 turbodiesel. Most versions have a six-speed manual transmission though a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is offered on 3 and 4 trim levels with the petrol engine.
Available in grade 3 trim, the fuel economy champion of the Stonic range is the diesel edition. It officially has a combined economy figure of 57.6mpg, though I only managed a return of 45.2mpg, which isn't bad.
As hinted at above, it's not the fastest kid on the block but with slightly over 170Nm of torque the diesel pulls eagerly from 1,500rpm to 2,750rpm, so is certainly no slouch, especially in between gear changes.
There's plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and driving seat height - which you'll probably need as it's slung low on this chariot, However, because of its 42mm raise in ground clearance and slim front pillars, visibility is good.
Yes, the steering is light, which some will grumble about, but it responds surprisingly well. The Stonic is nimble, composed and also relatively roll-free which means you can carry a decent amount of speed through corners.
All models come with All models come with electronic stability control and Kia's Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system that will help you regain control of the car if it starts to skid.
On the downside, the Stonic's ride is quite firm so not very cushioned over the lumps and bumps, and wind and road noise at motorway speed is a little intrusive. If you spend most of the time pottering around town, that's not going to worry you.