THERE are surprises in store with the Kia Stonic.
Based on the Rio hatchback, the Stonic has a longer body and stands slightly higher on the road with added ground clearance over the supermini stablemate.
The Kia Stonic comes in eight versions: two engines and four trim grades -‘2', ‘GT-Line', ‘Connect' and ‘GT-Line S'. The ‘2' grade is offered with the 1.0-litre T-GDi engine developing 99bhp andsix-speed manual transmission, which we tried or a dual-clutch automatic unit.
Other versions get the new 48-volt mild hybrid 1.0-litre T-GDi engine that produces 118bhp, with a six-speed manual as standard.
Standard equipment on the Stonic ‘2' includes 16-inch alloy wheels, body coloured door mirrors with a matt black lower housing, a high gloss black and satin radiator grille, black and body coloured door bumpers with silver kick plates front and rear, and black side sill, door garnish and wheel arch trims.
A body coloured rear spoiler with high-mounted brake light, roof rails and body coloured exterior door handles complete the exterior look.
It's what you don't see which makes the Stonic particularly attractive however, including the advanced sensory monitoring and safety equipment all designed to keep the occupants safe and car out of trouble, with the latest in-car infotainment system integrating with a user's mobile phone.
The Kia Smartstream petrol engine is of modest size but it too is packed with innovations which allow the car's computer brain to select the optimum combustion cycle bearing in mind the driver's selection of eco, sport or normal modes.
Our test car was an excellent city runabout or short commuter car with long legged potential thanks to the overdrive ratios on the top three gears and without any frugal driving it returned over 50mpg, which is more than the WLTP figures suggest it should have done. Another surprise there.
The engine was definitely best suited to running under 4,000rpm and seemed sweetest about 2,200rpm because when extended it audibly struggled and there was not much punch but a harsher engine note also crept into the cabin.
It could keep up with town traffic and with some careful consideration when overtaking it had respectable acceleration for passing slower vehicles.
The Stonic's gearchange was direct but long throw and the clutch had surprisingly long travel to its bite point. Brakes were very good at precisely slowing the car as desired while the steering felt a bit dull but delivered a good turning circle without any vibration at speed or much kick-back over bad surfaces.
Secondary controls were immediately to hand and worked well on the wheel-spokes and spread over the fascia to left and right of the driver with good sized rotary knobs for temperature and fan selection of the air conditioning which was effective, quick and quiet. Dials were simply laid out infront of the driver, decent sized and very clear.
Oddments spaces were generous throughout and you could hook up USBs on the central tray with its small compartment box and matched with really big door bins front and back. Access to the small rear boot was easy with a low loading floor and a good shape to fit in a modest amount of shopping unless you folded down the individual rear seats.
Access for passengers and driver was reasonable and once inside the seats were nicely shaped but on the small side to give support to larger occupants. Adjustment was adequate but not generous infront and those behind found legroom was short and it was a squeeze for three.
Noise levels were generally low, a little more noticeable on bad surfaces and when the engine extended, but wind and most mechanical sources were kept out of the cabin.Visibility was fairly clear all round apart from blindspots to the rear, wipers/ wash were good and headlights adequate.
With its modest engine size and power you were not really going to challenge the Kia's chassis and it proved very safe and surefooted for a small front wheel drive car. Tight turns could encourage it to run wide if attempted with attitude but it instantly responded to easing off the throttle or unwinding the steering.
As a package the Kia Stonic was very capable within its limits but its not the roomiest city car despite its Crossover design and with the 99bhp triple-pot engine and emissions it works out expensive to tax.