February 23, 2021 By Paolo de Borja Photos by the author

2021 Kia Stonic EX: Value-for-Money Crossover

It’s no surprise that Kia Philippines added the Stonic to its crossover stable. Like most other car manufacturers, Kia has bolstered its range to keep up with the growing demand for SUVs and crossovers.  The Stonic itself, however, is an seems to go beyond and surprises in different levels.

Crossovers of all shapes and sizes have caught the attention of consumers in recent years, but Kia didn’t simply come out with the Stonic to satisfy public demand. The new subcompact crossover was made with intent while maintaining its value-for-money.

Drive and Handling

Perhaps the most interesting but unexpected element on the Stonic is the way it drives. Looking at the bits and pieces on the outside, the car told me that it’s a crossover. Yet the low seating position felt more like a hatchback or a sedan. The short wheelbase and lack of a trunk surely add to its case. Under the hood is a 1.4-liter inline-4 engine also used on the Soluto. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox, differentiating itself from the Soluto’s 4-speed. The 97 bhp and 97 lb-ft of torque aren’t eye-popping, but performance on CAVITEX and Ternate-Nasugbu road was surprisingly good. Although I was alone in the car, it did not feel underpowered as some would suggest. The throttle response was decent and it can get up to speed at a respectable time even along the uphill portions of the highway.

Comfort levels are above average considering the size mainly because of the low driving position. A tiny but handy vehicle to have for long drives indeed. It’s also able to take on bumps on the road quite well. One small drawback would be the noise and vibration experienced at higher speeds on the expressways; but expectations definitely need to be managed with vehicles at this level. The addition of reverse camera, even with the crossover’s small dimensions, is also very welcome and helps the Stonic compete with rivals in terms of features.

Exterior

Kia makes no excuses in designing cars regardless of the segment they belong to. This is evident even in affordable models like the Stonic. It proves that inexpensive cars don’t necessarily have to look boring. The Stonic employs similar athletic lines we’ve seen in bigger Kia models like the Sportage and Sorento. Upfront is the brand’s signature tiger nose grille slotted in between the slim headlamps. It would have been nice if this top-of-the-line EX trim was equipped with automatic headlights or even LED lights instead of the projector-type halogen lights. However, it could just be that Kia opted to use the budget on an admirable interior feature instead, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Nevertheless, the inclusion of LED daytime running lights on this EX is commendable. The 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rail, black body claddings, and faux skid plates complete the crossover look of the Stonic. The ground of 185 mm also places it in between its main competitors in the Ford EcoSport (209 mm) and Hyundai Kona (170 mm). Of course, I can’t talk about the Stonic’s exterior design without mentioning how seamless the two-tone color scheme looks.

Interior

The most remarkable part of the Stonic’s interior is the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its 8-inch touchscreen display across all variants. Kia is aiming for younger consumers with the Stonic and the addition of such features makes a lot of sense. Personally, modern connectivity makes up for the lack of LED or automatic headlights. The multi-function steering wheel is generous as it has controls for the instrument cluster, infotainment system, and for calls. Also standard across all variants are six speakers, two of which being tweeters. The EX trim gets automatic climate control, smart entry and push start, hill start assist control, and a rear parking sensor.

I was hoping that electronic stability control would be standard across all variants, however. Overall, Kia did not scrimp on the interior construction of the Stonic despite being its smallest crossover in the local market. Significant thought was given in combining the silver accents and gloss black touches of the interior with above average convenience features.

Conclusion

The Kia Stonic is a great choice for those looking to buy their first brand new car but yearn for something more exciting than an economy sedan. They would get the respectable ride height of a small crossover but with the nimble handling of a small sedan or a hatchback. The exterior design elements coupled with the generously packed cabin make it a comfortable and stylish everyday drive.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1,368 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16V
Fuel Injector Multi-Point Injection
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 99 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 97 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic transmission

Performance

Top Speed 172 km/h
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 10.3 sec

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 10.8 km/L Overall

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 925,000
What's Great Packed with value, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on all variants, driving dynamics, service
What's Not So One USB port, NVH levels at high speeds
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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