By Mike Torpey on 2019-07-14 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI
YOU need only listen to 'greats' like Frank Sinatra or Bruce Springsteen to appreciate that delivery and timing cannot be overstated.
And Korean car maker Kia wasn't going to get caught napping when plotting its first entry into the small SUV scene.
Armed with the knowledge that this particular area of the new car market was likely to double to more than two million vehicles a year in Europe by 2020, Kia launched a slightly left-field model in the Stonic.
A compact cracker it may be, but the Stonic doesn't conform to the archtypal SUV format - it has style, shape and is pretty low slung.
More important to the big guns at Kia though was to produce a model range aimed at motorists looking for compact dimensions and efficient engines combined with flexible space and some serious road presence.
The Stonic produces the goods on all four counts in a seven-model line-up based on grade 2, 3 and 4 trim levels, with prices from £16,540.
Based on the platform of the latest Rio supermini, the model was originally designed purely as a car for the UK and European market, but such was the reception it generated when shown in Korea that it is on sale there too.
Three engines are available - a 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol unit delivering 118bhp, a normally aspirated 1.4 petrol unit with 98bhp and the 108bhp 1.6 turbodiesel from the brand's cee'd range.
All are front wheel drive, include stop/start and have six-speed manual transmissions, though the top two trim grades also offer a seven-speed dual automatic gearbox.
Our tested variant was powered by Kia's ‘little jewel' the 1.0 T-GDi, an engine that's a joy to drive and frugal with it - our own fuel consumption figure of 46mpg comparing favourably with the official average of 51.4.
Inside things are a bit drab and plasticky in entry level 2 trim, though there are a few touches that lift the cabin like a mix of bright and matt alloy strips on the dash and steering wheel.
This model comes with a seven-inch display screen, DAB radio, Bluetooth with music streaming plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control, though you don't get sat-nav.
There's also a trip computer, steering wheel-mounted controls, rear parking sensors and Hill Start Assist.
Even a small or compact SUV needs to offer decent space for passengers and their paraphernalia - and the Stonic doesn't disappoint on that score.
Room is plentiful up front and reasonable for three in rear - even a centre rear passenger can travel in comfort - while the boot is large and there are also lots of oddments spaces, including four cup-holders plus bottle holders in the rear door bins.
Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI 2
Mechanical: 118bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: 14
C02 emissions: 130g/km
Bik rating: 30%
Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles
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