android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
The Kia Stonic Sport is a practical, fun car for a small family.
android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

The roof rails create a long clean line across the top of the car. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

Upfront is spacious but the seats are uncomfortable. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

Two adults can fit comfortably in the back seats. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

The boot space has a capacity of 352 litres. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

When the back seats are folded down, the boot space capacity triples in volume. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

It hasn’t been around long, but the Kia Stonic has made quite a splash in the busy light SUV market, for good reason. It’s an easy drive, looks sporty and for the price it’s a pretty comfortable family vehicle and fair value-for-money, with enough boot space to look after a little tribe.

The Stonic is a bit cheaper than some of it’s fancier rivals such as the Ford Puma, the Mazda CX-3 and the Volkswagen T-Cross. The Sport version is $28,190 drive-away and sits in the middle of the range, with the S model below and the GT-Line at the top at $30,490.

You definitely get what you pay for as you work your way up the range as the GT-Line is the only version to get the more fuel-efficient and faster 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. You might think you’d get that on the Sport version, so it’s something to keep in mind.

What does it look like?

The design of the Kia Stonic means it actually looks like a little SUV, unlike some of the cars in this category that still have the design of a small hatch. I reviewed a ‘Sporty Blue’ Stonic and my nephew is a big fan of the colour, which stands out well in the parking lot.

The headlight design of the Stonic helps reinforce the SUV feel and the roof rails create a long clean line across the top of the car, and the black wheel arches tie it all together, along with the 17-inch alloy wheels.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

The roof rails create a long clean line across the top of the car. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

The silver grille makes the car look fresh, along with the rear diffuser, although it doesn’t really add anything in terms of functionality.

Inside, the Stonic continues those clean lines and the design is fairly modern, but there is quite a bit of black plastic which is broken up by the dials and tech.

The car has a few metallic finishes on the door handles and the Sport model also gets the premium gearshift and steering wheel cover which gives it a leather-like feel. It’s a welcome upgrade over the plastic stuff on the base model.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
The Stonic has black wheel arches and wears 17-inch alloy wheels. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

How does it drive?

This version of the Stonic comes with a small petrol engine with no turbo – so it does struggle with a lack of power. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 74kW/133Nm, struggles up steep hills.

It leaves you feeling like the next gear is just out reach, but driving around the suburbs and the city it gives a much smoother drive. It also handles wet and windy roads quite well.

Other models like the Ford Puma, Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Cross have turbo engines, but they’re all more expensive. You can get more power in a Stonic but you have to spend more for that GT-Line grade I mentioned earlier.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
The 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine produces 74kW/133Nm. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

I found the suspension quite hard and the brakes on the model I had were very touchy.

In terms of visibility, the side pillar was in the way when I checked my blind spot, but otherwise it was fairly good because you’re up fairly high for a small SUV.

I found it really easy to park, much easier than some of the other cars in its class, it has a small turning circle and great predictability.

The reversing camera is decent enough and the rear sensors work well, but there are no front sensors.

How spacious is it?

Up front I found the car quite spacious as the driver or passenger but unfortunately the front seats are quite uncomfortable. There’s no lumbar support and the dark cloth-trim seats are really firm.

I’m 177cm (5′ 10″), and when I sat behind my driver’s position, I had some legroom but I wouldn’t call it spacious.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

Upfront is spacious but the seats are uncomfortable. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

Two adults can fit comfortably in the back seats. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

Passengers in the back of the car don’t receive quite as much love as they could but you can fit two adults comfortably. A rear-facing children’s car seat did eat up most of the front passenger’s legroom, and some of the middle seat in the back. But it was fairly easy to fit in because the doors open fairly well.

The boot space is fair for a car of this size at 352 litres (VDA), but it’s not quite as roomy as other compact models like the Ford Puma or VW T-Cross.

When the back seats are folded down you get almost three times that at 1155 litres (VDA) which is pretty good, though. The cargo area has a parcel shelf, netting and a luggage hook.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

The boot space has a capacity of 352 litres. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport

When the back seats are folded down, the boot space capacity triples in volume. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

The car comes with a decent sized glove box, two cupholders up front and bottle holders for all four doors – although we couldn’t fit the standard-sized CarsGuide drink bottle in the back door holders.

Up front you also get a sliding armrest on the console, which can be a bit distracting if you’re checking your blind spot. Lean on it and it moves.

Other features that come as standard are cruise control, auto headlights, roof racks and heated side mirrors. When you buy the Sport version you get the electric folding mirrors plus the push-button start and a proximity key which comes in handy when you have your hands full.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
Inside is a 8.0-inch touchscreen. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

The car has quite a few thoughtful touches that add to its practicality, like a sunglass holder for the driver, which may be a little old school, but I’m a fan.

There’s also an extra light under the visor, which is great for doing your makeup (when you’ve parked of course) especially when you add the bright double centre light.

In the back it’s a different story. There’s not much at all, just the one USB point to charge devices, and if you have two kids it can cause an issue.

How safe is it?

The Stonic received a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when it launched, but the rating is actually based on the Kia Rio from 2017 so there’s been quite a few improvements in the safety tech since that rating was given.

You get the safety features you’d expect from Kia with low speed forward AEB and lane keeping assist, but the Sport doesn’t come with a blind-spot warning system. There are front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger plus side curtains that extend to the back row.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
The Stonic received a five-star ANCAP safety rating when it launched in 2017. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

One great feature is the design of the two ISOFIX points for the window seats in the back. They jut out slightly so you can easily access them, but you can’t feel them as a passenger.

The Kia also comes with three top-tether anchorage points, but as mentioned earlier, you’d struggle to fit three car seats.

What’s the tech like?

It might take a minute to get used to the way the tech is laid out because there are quite a few options. I quickly got the hang of it and found it easy to use my digital radio and Apple Maps at the same time, which can be difficult with some of the Stonic’s rivals. 
The 8.0-inch touchscreen is great. It’s fairly easy to use and Bluetooth is included, along with a USB input for your device, plus wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It’s only wireless for the cheaper model, because the Sport version and the GT-Line come with the built-in navigation system, but I did find it a bit clunky in terms of programming destinations, manually and with the voice command.

How much does it cost to own?

The value-for-money equation is one of the Stonic Sport’s best features because of the ownership options available.

It comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. If you have it serviced with Kia, you also get capped price-servicing for the same time and up to eight years roadside assist.

The Stonic needs a check up every 12 months or 15,000km, which isn’t a heavy lift.

android, kia stonic 2023 review: sport
The Stonic Sport comes with seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. (Image credit: Dean McCartney)

My petrol usage was a little higher than I expected. Over a week of city and suburban driving I averaged 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres, but I did have a mix of stop-start traffic in rainy conditions and sunny days. The official number is 6.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

So that little non-turbo engine is working pretty hard. Fuel efficiency does get better if you’re looking at the GT-Line model.

Keyword: Kia Stonic 2023 review: Sport

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