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The Top Gear car review:Kia Stonic
What is it like on the road?
The B-SUV segment is not one that’s over-flowing with driving talent. If we say that the Fiat 500X is among the best cars in the class to drive, you’ll begin to understand what we mean. These cars are essentially superminis with stilts, and dynamic capability is generally a good way down the list of priorities compared to, say, styling, roof-rail fittings, or jazzy seat trim.
So if we say that the Stonic is one of the better small crossovers to drive, that may sound like damning with praise so faint you’d need an electron microscope to find it. To be fair to the Stonic, though, it’s none too shabby. The steering, as it is in the Rio, is too light and too devoid of feel to actually have any fun, but around city streets, on the open road and the motorway, the Stonic felt… fine.
Not exceptional, not especially engaging, but without serious vice, and with some quite good points. That light steering and the square-edged styling make it feel quite nimble through tight gaps and narrow twists, and while you do need the optional parking camera to help you see past that thick C-pillar, it’s easy on the nerves in confined urban agility tests.
We would raise one potential question mark over ride quality. With the standard-fit 17-inch alloy wheels, the Stonic did feel a touch firm on its German launch, occasionally bouncy. It may be that it’s a car that struggles to cope fluidly with British bumps and lumps. But that would make it far from unique in its class – choosing stylish wheels can compromise comfort.
Of the engines, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine is the undoubted star. It spools up quickly and smoothly, and has diesel-like economy and emissions figures. It’s not the cheapest engine by any means (the basic, but rather underwhelming 100hp 1.4-litre petrol fills that role), but it’s the one that feels best suited to the Stonic, and vice-versa.
You could go for the torquey 1.6 CRDi diesel, but while that’s refined at a steady cruise, it’s noisy when you ask for extra go, and for the Stonic’s in-town role, petrol is surely the better option these days.