Kia Stonic GT-Line: No time to dither

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 9

What is it?

Effectively, Stonic is a replacement for the Soul (remember it?)

Stonic is positioned as a city-focused SUV. Small, agile and marketed as a car for younger urbanites, there’s two grades — Sport and GT-Line.

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 10

What’s it cost?

$29,990 driveaway is the deal right now, plus $595 for premium paint such as the Aurora Black Pearl of our review vehicle.

There’s hints of Hyundai Kona, perhaps Kia’s Seltos too, in Stonics’s angular shape, including the chin insert with driving lights, angled rear pillar and slimmish rear lights. 

The headlights have horizontal LED driving lights that follow the lines of the grille.

It’s a simple yet classy look that contrasts beautifully with that black paint and rides on grey painted, machined 17-inch alloys with 205/55 series Continental rubber.

Inside and there is room up front for most people, but the squat dimensions — the same 2580mm wheelbase as Rio — make for a tightish rear setup legroom-wise.

It’s a modestly sized boot at 352 litres, expanding to 1155 litres, while the rear seats fold to almost but not quite level pegging with the boot floor.

Underneath the carpet is a space saver spare.

Instrumentation is set in a dash with a huge swathe of faux carbon-fibre that reaches from side to side.

It’s classic Kia with easy to read dials and tabs, a pair of analogue dials and colour info screen in the binnacle, and their cleanly laid out touchscreen with plenty of sub-menu functionality.

The rear seats have a single USB port at the rear of the centre console, with another one up front along with a pair of 12V sockets — and only the driver’s window is one touch up and down.

There are heating elements for the Stonic’s wing mirrors, a handy touch for some areas.

Safety-wise there is Kia’s over-eager Lane Keep Assist, with its staccato audio warning, Forward Collision Alert and Blind Spot Assist.

Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Follow Assist are also standard.

Rain sensing wipers and solar glass for the main screen and side windows ease the UV rays. 

Peace of mind comes from the standard seven-year warranty and unlimited kilometres, plus capped price servicing.

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 1

What’s it go like?

Here we find the three cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo engine once found in Picanto and now in the Rio.

The transmission is a seven ratio, dual clutch auto in the GT-Line.

Peak power is 74kW at 4,000rpm, while maximum torque is 172Nm between 1500 to 4000 rpm.

Tank size is 45 litres, with economy an odd one.

We didn’t see a figure below 6.0L/100, with the closest 6.4L/100.

The engine is a buzzy, revvy thing, and needs some revs to really extract the best result, even with drive modes such as Eco and Sport.

It’s not a heavyweight either, at 1227kg before fuel and passengers.

But with a load on that torque suddenly seems a little light.

Suburban pedaling saw the DCT twin clutch transmission dither at stop signs and that’s a characteristic trait.

On the freeway, it’s a quiet, relaxed revver, but overtaking isn’t something that happens naturally. It needs some foresight and planning to be performed safely.

Turbo lag in a small engine is problematic too.

Again it’s those momentary stops where the engine spins down and is suddenly required to spin back up, and to get boost from the turbo to do so (which has also spun down) — where some intersections need a deep breath before proceeding.

The ride quality was surprising as it was more a bang crash thump ride than a competent, comfortable, setup.

This was noticeable at suburban speeds, and the front suspension was soft enough that it would bark the chin on driveway exits.

Again, the freeway seemed a better fit for the 4140mm long Stonic (and it’s just 70mm longer than the Rio), with the ride seemingly more adept and capable of providing the expected level of comfort.

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 4

What we like?

  • Decent enough looker
  • Right amount of equipment and room for intended market
  • Size will appeal for city driving

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 11

What we don’t like?

  • Ride quality isn’t quite up to expectations
  • Typical small engine meets twin clutch woes

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 6

The bottom line?

Call us slightly cynical.

Stonic is not a car that appealed that much.

For what we anticipate to be the target area and market, it’s odds and evens.

It’s the right size for those that do pretty much nothing but city driving, but at the same time doesn’t drive well enough to suit the city. 

The economy figure we saw is average, not stellar, too.

As noted with the Rio, it’s some distance away from what could be a truly user-friendly vehicle for the intended market.

2021 Kia Stonic GT Line 5

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Kia Stonic GT-Line. priced from $29,990 driveaway
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 6.5/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7/10