Kia Stonic 2021 full review & buyer's guide
Let’s get a few things straight, OK? A Kia Stonic is a Kia Rio - only with added roof rails, infinitesimally more luggage space, and 43 millimetres of additional ground clearance. And different hair and makeup. This will cost you $5500 extra, roughly.
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We’ve seen this kind of cloning before, with crossovers and cars: Stonic is Rio just like Subaru XV is Impreza hatch. Of course, some manufacturers do this without changing the name - like Toyota with Yaris and Yaris Cross. Either way, beancounters inside carmakers jump at this kind of thing, because the fundamental R&D is already in the can - amortised and paid for - you just jack the car up a bit, you give it marginally different styling, bit of botox if you’re lucky, slap on a new badge - and there’s a brand new SUV, at a fraction of the cost of developing a bespoke one. Like, don’t get me wrong here: Stonic is an awesome styling exercise. It looks great - the proportions are spot on, and the front end in particular came together really well. Especially on GT-Line, which you’re predominately looking at in this review. With cars being the fashion statement they often are in the minds of many, there’s all too frequently a line in the sand with the letters ‘SUV’ on one side. The ‘must have’ side. It’s kinda non-negotiable. So there will be people out there for whom only an SUV will do. This ultimatum will be delivered to you in some way - probably not in the manner of the butler handing you a gilt-edged envelope. For these people (who I would argue can’t see the forest here, for the trees) Stonic will be a contender in the way Rio won’t. Stonic is priced - and equipped - competitively against its peers, such as Mazda’s CX-3 and Big Sister’s Venue. You’ll pay roughly $10,000 more for a fully-loaded CX-3. However, the Mazda’s not a rip-off. CX-3 delivers roughly 50 per cent more power from its 2.0-litre four, and it has AWD and adaptive cruise, for example - both of which the Stonic lacks. If you go dollar-for-dollar with CX-3, you’re looking at a front-drive CX-3 Maxx Sport - and then you’re back to manual seats, non-adaptive cruise control and smaller 16-inch alloys. Stonic GT-Line starts looking pretty sharp against a Maxx Sport CX-3. Hyundai Venue is close to a direct Stonic competitor on price and spec. Like Stonic, Venue is front-drive only, but even here, Venue will give you about 25 per cent better power to weight. So, there’s your boxed set of three diminutive SUVs, if you want to duck out and test drive today, comparatively. CX-3 for polish and performance; Stonic as the price-leader; Venue in the middle. Just make sure you drive variants at the same price-point, otherwise this will skew your perception.