PICKING the perfect name to suit a car's characteristics and styling is no easy feat, but Kia has certainly come up trumps with its all-new Stonic model.
It's the company's first venture into the compact SUV sector and the Stonic boasts a sporty, confident design along with great handling ability that perfectly matches its funky title.
Based on the latest platform of the Kia Rio, the Stonic is a good looking car that's big on practicality and functionality.
With the company's distinctive ‘tiger-nose' main front grille, the five-door hatchback looks appealing from any angle thanks to rear privacy glass, roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear combination lights, sweeping light clusters, lots of smart black gloss trim, plus two-tone paint with a contrast roof colour.
Move inside and the interior is modern in its design with a practical layout and plenty of on-board technology to explore.
Our range-topping ‘4' trim version featured the likes of black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, satin chrome finishes to the interior door handles, stainless steel pedals, a D-shaped steering wheel with perforated leather rim and an auto dimming rearview mirror.
Creature comforts were plentiful and included automatic air conditioning, heated front seats and steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system, full smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth, a reversing camera, a seven-inch display screen with touchscreen navigation, rear parking sensors and lots, lots more.
That's an impressive amount of kit for a mid-sized SUV and a clear indication that Kia likes to sell cars that are fully loaded with no hidden costs.
The car was priced at £20,475 and there were no optional extras to factor in.
It was powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with 118bhp and 171Nm of torque helping it complete the 0-60mph sprint in a respectable 9.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 114mph.
According to official figures, the Stonic could deliver combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg with carbon emissions of 130g/km.
Out on the open road, the Stonic was well balanced and the road holding was deceptively good into corners with minimal sign of any body sway.
The highly efficient suspension system does a great job of ironing out all but the harshest of uneven surfaces and the cabin is well insulated against road surface and engine noise. You will hear a raspy note from the three-pot engine when driven hard, but it almost adds to the car's appeal and fun factor.
Comfort levels are good and the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the slightly elevated seating position. There is space for a couple of adults in the back although leg room can be limited if the front seats are pushed right back.
In town centres, the Stonic proved nice and agile with a 5.2 metre turning circle and the light steering was another plus factor. Then out on the faster motorways and dual carriageways, it proved that small engines can still pack a mighty punch. The acceleration through the six-speed manual gearbox was sharp and this is a car that can cruise at national speed limits with ease.
SUVs need to be practical and the Stonic ticks all the boxes on that front too with a boot capacity that ranges from 352 litres to 1,155 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, convenient storage compartments throughout the car include a glovebox, door bins, a centre armrest storage box, front seat-back pockets, overhead sunglasses holder and cup holders. There are luggage nets and hooks in the boot along with a dual height boot floor.
Kia has also packed the Stonic with a generous array of safety features and driver assistance aids, including anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, high beam assist, hill-start assist, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and a full suite of airbags.