ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE KIA STONIC

When the Kia Stonic arrived for my week behind the wheel, I have to confess I wondered was it a crossover or an SUV. Kia see it as an SUV one of the compact variety and it is this type of vehicle which is taking away in ever increasing numbers sales of hatchbacks and saloons.

The newcomer is both practical and affordable from Kia and the renowned seven year warranty for added peace of mind and is based on the new Rio and is built in South Korea; my test example was a 1.0 T-GDi 2 version. For me, two key areas, the practical side and the very impressive 998cc engine. With 118bhp, acceleration is brisk with rest to 62mph (100kph) in just under 10 seconds; okay it is not going to win a rally. There are of course other engine choices, in addition to the petrol version tested, a 1.4 litre with 98bhp and a diesel with 108bhp. There is no doubt that many in Ireland will still yearn for a diesel. Currently the small petrol engine is gaining a lot of followers and the Kia unit I tested certainly ticked a lot of boxes for me and the only clue that it was a three cylinder was when I accelerated in a sporty fashion.

All versions feature a six speed manual transmission with ISG Kia’s intelligent engine start/stop system, this prevents CO2 from being pumped into the air when the Stoic is stopped, e.g.; traffic lights. Worth noting that there is no all wheel drive version, all models feature two wheel drive, this was a decision taken by Kia as small SUVs with all wheel drive only account for 8 per cent in their market segment. Turning to the practical side, full marks to the 60/40 split rear seat which proved so useful on a short break to County Fermanagh, which left me to think that this Kia is more a crossover, a mix of a hatchback and a SUV.

Overall the specification is acceptable, although sat nav is absent, no doubt the aim to keep the final price tag more accessible. However on the model tested music on the move was enjoyable courtesy of the audio system supported by six speakers and with Bluetooth the ability to get connected. Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management are standard. VSM is linked to Torque Vectoring, Straight Line Stability and Cornering Brake Control. All versions also have Hill-start Assist to prevent the car from rolling backwards when setting off on steep inclines. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning System are optional on grade ‘2’. All models have 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, and all-round electric windows with an automatic function on the driver’s side, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, and a 3.5-inch supervision cluster. Safety is well catered for with bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. Finally to peace of mind and the warranty and in line with the rest of the Kia line-up, a 7 year/100,00 mile warranty, (three years unlimited mileage), anti-perforation (12 years/unlimited mileage), paint warranty (5 years/100,00 miles) and KIAssist.

My lasting memory of the new Stonic, the amazing one litre petrol engine.