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    Kia Stonic GT-Line 2022 review: long-term

    Tricky parking spots are a breeze in the Kia Stonic (image: Andrew Chesterton)

    It might be Kia's smallest SUV, but the Stonic GT-Line is big on personality. But is that enough to put it at the top of your micro-SUV shopping list? Our man Chesto puts it to the urban family test to find out.

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    Part 1: July 2021

    Ok, so it's fair to say that it's a strange time to be running a long-term vehicle in Sydney. Road-trips are a distant memory, our very best driving roads are sitting lonely and empty of traffic, and the concept of a long-distance test has been shrunk to a 5km circle around our homes. 

    But there is another way to look at it, and that is that I've never depended on a vehicle quite so much as I have the Kia Stonic GT-Line. 

    When you can only go to the shops, getting their and back has been critically important, plus it's taken me to my vaccination appointments, piped the ritual 11am press conference through its in-cabin speakers, and – perhaps most important – been responsible for picking up more take-away pizzas, Thai food and bottles of wine than I had ever thought possible.

    Short version? We might not be travelling far, but I find myself bonding with my little Kia like few cars before it. Plus, I managed to wrack up some kays before lockdown really set in.

    Kia's smallest SUV is barely bigger than a city car. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton Kia's smallest SUV is barely bigger than a city car. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton

    But first, what the hell is it? Kia's smallest SUV, the Stonic stretches the very definition of SUV, with dimensions barely bigger than a city car. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for with a seriously stylish exterior design and a mostly well-equipped cabin, especially in this GT-Line trim level.

    The Stonic measures 1520mm in hight and 1760mm in width, which makes its marginally taller and wider than the Rio hatchback, which is 1450mm high and 1725mm wide. So in SUV terms, the Stonic is no giant.

    Unsurprisingly, it's front-wheel drive, and there is seating for five (though more likely four if you're transporting adults), and there is 352 litres (VDA) of space in its clever little boot. 

    Our car, the GT-Line, sits at the tippy top of the Stonic family, above the entry-level S and mid-spec Sport, and it's the only model in the family to make use of Kia's most-clever engine.

    The GT-Line, sits at the tippy top of the Stonic family. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton. The GT-Line, sits at the tippy top of the Stonic family. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton.

    While the lesser grades get a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol paired with a six-speed auto or six-speed manual, the GT-Line gets a clever 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol that not only makes more power (74kW and 172Nm versus 74kW and 133Nm), but also requires less fuel (5.4L/100km versus 6.0-6.7L/100km).

    But... you do have to pay for it. The Stonic range kicks off with the S for $21,490 (manual) or $22,990 (auto), before stepping up to the Stonic Sport for $24,990 (manual) or $25,990 (auto). Our car, the GT-Line, is then a fairly sizeable jump to $29,990.

    The Stonic measures 1520mm in hight and 1760mm in width. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton. The Stonic measures 1520mm in hight and 1760mm in width. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton.

    But for that, you do get a fair bit of stuff. There's the engine and gearbox, of course, as well as the range-wide 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

    You also get the best of the Sport model's kit, including 17-inch alloys, a proximity key with push-button start, sat-nav, digital radio and a more upmarket-feeling cabin.

    But springing for the GT-Line also unlocks some of its own features, some of which seriously improve the street appeal, like the GT bodykit, the LED lights, DRLs, and fog-lights, and the massive sunroof. 

    You also get a sportier-feeling steering wheel, better-feeling seats and on-board climate control, as well as three driving modes (Eco, Normal and Sport).

    The GT-Line has a sportier-feeling steering wheel. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton. The GT-Line has a sportier-feeling steering wheel. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton.

    All of which is why the Stonic GT-Line does a pretty good impression of a premium vehicle for front-seat riders, even if some of the cabin materials (and especially on the door panels and centre console that divides the seats) are a harsh plastic that is unforgiving to the touch.

    Still, there are two cupholders, which match the big bottle holder in each door, and connecting your device is easy and intuitive. 

    However, those in the less-than-massive rear pews make do with a more basic space, free of air-vents, cupholders and power outlets, and with just a single USB port to share.

    That said, I reckon I’ve got a fair handle on the Stonic’s buyer. If yours is a bigger family, you’re no-doubt shopping further up the Kia tree. Same if you have lots of people or stuff to cart around regularly.

    Those in the less-than-massive rear pews make do with a more basic space. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton. Those in the less-than-massive rear pews make do with a more basic space. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton.

    The Stonic, I reckon, is aimed pretty squarely at my wife and I: a city-dwelling couple with no kids, one dog, and a penchant for the kinds of adventures that rarely see us leaving tarmac roads.

    And for us, the space has proved ample to date, with the not-massive boot still able to swallow all the shopping, picnic gear, tennis stuff and everything else we’ve thrown at it to date — save a trip to Bunnings in which the items were too long to fit in, even on an angle, so ended up thrown across the backseat instead.

    So, the size is right (for us), and I do swoon a little when I catch a glimpse of its exterior styling, but that’s not to say there haven’t been a couple of queries to date.

    The Stonic is a small family car for those with a penchant for adventures that rarely leave the tarmac roads. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton. The Stonic is a small family car for those with a penchant for adventures that rarely leave the tarmac roads. Image Credit: Andrew Chesterton.

    The engine/gearbox combo is undoubtedly clever, and I love the way the three-pot sounds, but it hasn’t proven the smoothest combination I’ve driven so far, and there’s plenty of lag on set-off that you need to contend with, or at least get used to. 

    One other thing, and this is an annoyance rather than a problem, but the Stonic auto-locks every door once you start moving, which makes sense, but to unlock them you don’t just need to put the vehicle in park, but also kill the engine. Which means if you stop to pick someone up, or run into a shop to grab something to throw into the boot, you find yourself locked out and looking a bit of a dill. 

    Far from a deal-breaker, I know, but there you have it. 

    Still, our early weeks with the Stonic have been mostly sunshine-filled, and I haven’t grown tired of just looking at it yet.

    But how will its little engine deal with daily grind of lockdown life? And will its fuel economy really live up to the promise? Tune in next time, friends. Same CarsGuide time. Same CarsGuide channel.

    Acquired: July 2021

    Distance travelled this month: 453km

    Odometer: 2885km

    Average fuel consumption for July: 8.8L/100

    Part 2: August 2021

    If you live in one of this country’s ever-more cramped and confined cities, and you buy a vehicle that offers more space, more seating and more size than you actually need, then I think it’s time we had a little chat. 

    Because I must admit, when I first climbed behind the wheel of the bite-sized Kia Stonic, I thought it was going to be too small for me, despite the fact my little urban family consists only of myself, my wife and a cat-sized corgi. 

    It’s not that it’s cramped in the driver or passenger seat, mind. But more that we had recently climbed out of the bigger Kia Seltos, and thought that downsizing meant we’d also need to downsize out lifestyles, too. 

    We’re of an age now where a super-exciting weekend involves a trip to Flower Power, and another to Bunnings, followed by several hours accidentally killing the plants we’ve just dropped a mortgage payment on. So while we don’t have kids to cart around, boot space is important. 

    And, on paper at least, the boot space in the Stonic is a little underwhelming. There’s 352 litres on offer with the seats in place, swelling to 1155 litres with them folded flat, but a fairly high shelf (there's a spare beneath it) means the space isn’t all that deep, making loading taller items (like plants, for example) a little more challenging to squeeze in.

    The boot space in the Stonic is a little underwhelming (image: Andrew Chesterton). The boot space in the Stonic is a little underwhelming (image: Andrew Chesterton).

    That's less than the Nissan Juke, for example, which delivers 422 litres of space, and marginally less than the Hyundai Venue, which offers 355 litres. It does, however, make the Mazda CX-3 seem tiny, with its 264 litres.

    But remember, we’d recently had a Seltos, which delivers around 25 per cent more boot space with the rear seats in place, and even eye-balling the storage area in the Stonic left us feeling like we’d been a littler short-changed. 

    But every downside has an up, and vice versa, and having now spent several months behind the wheel of the Stonic I can tell you that maybe - maybe - twice we’ve had to rethink our weekend adventures based on what we can reasonably lug home from the hardware store. 

    And on the flip-side, we take advantage of the Stonic’s diminutive dimensions (we’ve covered this before, but the Stonic measures 1520mm in height and 1760mm in width, which makes its marginally taller and wider than the Rio hatchback, which is 1450mm high and 1725mm wide) every time we leave the house. 

    The Stonic measures 1520mm in height and 1760mm in width (image: Andrew Chesterton). The Stonic measures 1520mm in height and 1760mm in width (image: Andrew Chesterton).

    Don’t believe me? Look at the parking photo I’ve attached. I had smugly watched several large vehicles eye-off the space longingly before continuing their dejected circling of the carpark. But the Stonic? Not a problem. It was in the space with room to spare before you could blink.

    We take advantage of the Stonic’s diminutive dimensionse very time we leave the house (image: Andrew Chesterton). We take advantage of the Stonic’s diminutive dimensionse very time we leave the house (image: Andrew Chesterton).

    It’s small, light and easy to drive, and while the nine-point-something litres per hundred we’ve been averaging is a little higher than we’d expect — and certainly higher than the claimed combined figure of 5.4L/100km — but it’s liveable, and even more so given our lives have been confined to the city for months (which Kia says should return 6.4L/100km).

    We could shop bigger, of course. And we’d pay more money for more space, probably have a higher fuel bill, and — on a bad day — could even find ourselves joining that sad, circling procession looking for a jumbo parking spot. And is that worth an extra package or two from Bunnings? I’m not so sure. 

    It’s all relative, of course, and the examples I’m giving are relative to me, and my child-free life. The Stonic is not a family car, nor does it pretend to be. But I reckon the same philosophy applies no matter who you are, or what your family looks like. 

    If you’ve got two kids, do you need a three-row seven-seater? If you have only seen pictures of the outback, and if your idea of camping is slumming it in any hotel with less than four stars, then do you need that super-expensive off-roader? And if you’re a young(ish….) couple, do you really need a vehicle bigger than the Stonic?

    It’s a bit like the extra-bedroom crisis that plagues our cities. The theory is that big families need big houses, which makes sense, but eventually those kids all move out, leaving just two people rattling around these massive four- and five-bed homes. The problem is that the longer they stay in them rather than downsizing to something that suits their new needs, the longer the next-generation of young families are locked out of them.

    So I ask you, CarsGuide readers, what do you really need from your next new car?

    Acquired: July 2021

    Distance travelled this month: 375km

    Odometer: 3360km

    Average fuel consumption for July: 9.7L/100


    Insurance Quote

    The Wrap

    Likes

    Supermodel looks outside
    Wants for little in terms of equipment
    Clever engine makes more power with less

    Dislikes

    Basic set-up for backseat riders
    Smooth driving takes practice
    Self-locking doors surprisingly annoying

    Scores

    Andrew:

    The Kids:

    $29,990

    Based on new car retail price

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    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.