THE demand for small SUVs shows no sign of waning so competition for sales is tough.
Which is one of the reasons why Kia has refreshed its Stonic model range to add more appeal and better value for money.
The Stonic is a cool, trendy little car which not only looks good but is practical and inexpensive to run.
It's testimony to its sleek lines that while it was originally designed to be sold only in Europe there was so much demand for it in its country of origin, Korea, that the company decided to market it there too.
The latest version now features a 48-volt mild-hybrid assisted turbocharged three cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine with a choice of either 99bhp or 118bhp.
The new top of the range version - driven here - is the new Stonic GT-Line S, which not only boasts the more powerful engine but a host of other new features too.
While the interior and exterior design remains largely unchanged improvements include increasing the size of the central dashboard touch screen from 7 inches to 8 inches and the fitting of a host of new safety and driver support systems.
Cosmetically there are new wheel designs as well as a larger choice of body and roof colours.
The Stonic is loosely based on the Kia Rio hatchback although the two cars look completely different.
So while they do share the same platform the Stonic is 70mm taller giving it that distinctive SUV look as well as being wider and having a longer rear overhang to provide more space for rear seat passengers as well as more luggage space.
The new GT-Line S is a sophisticated highly specced car with some nice features which make it easy to live with including heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, smart cruise control and a reversing camera plus front parking sensors.
In the generously proportioned cabin there's a clean, sharp appearance with leather-look and cloth seats, aluminium pedals and a user friendly dashboard with both conventional speedometer and a digital readout.
The touch screen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while the navigation system uses TomTom Live.
And while a 1.0-litre engine might sound a little small for this car it punches well above its weight giving a nice turn of power when you wind up the revs.
There are three driving modes - eco, normal and sport - which are changeable at the touch of a button although the car always defaults to eco when you switch off the ignition.
Use eco and you will find yourself "sailing", or at least that's what Kia calls it. As you lift off the accelerator the revs drop to zero and the car goes into a coasting - or sailing - mode as if in neutral to help save fuel.
The engine is mated to a super smooth seamless seven speed auto box which you can use manually but it's so efficient it's hardly worth it.
It rides well and always feels nicely planted on the road even at speed despite its height.
And despite the small engine this Stonic is a very quiet and comfortable motorway cruiser.