18 March 2021

Kia Stonic 2021 Car Review

The new Kia Stonic brings some fun spirit to the small SUV sector that we’re sure will resonate with Kiwis nationwide. The Stonic is an interesting character and is based on the same platform as the popular Kia Rio.

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Kia Stonic 2021
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Kia Stonic 2021
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Kia Stonic 2021
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Kia Stonic 2021
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Kia Stonic 2021
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Kia Stonic 2021

Its name is also rather quirky and is a portmanteau word, mixing the vocal elements of the words ‘speedy’ and ‘tonic’.

Regardless of the bizarre name, Kia is slowly emerging as the brand of SUV experts, and after the new Seltos was very well received, the competitively-priced Stonic makes perfect sense.

Over the past few months, our AA Motoring Advisors have received many calls from AA Members asking for our opinion about the Kia Stonic, due to an enticing starting price of just $23,990 (+ORC).

Sharp looks

The Kia Stonic is designed with practicality in mind and uses Kia’s signature 'tiger-nose' grille, along with a wide lower air intake running almost the full width of the car. There are also black trims that run around the wheel arches and continue along the sills (including on the lower portion of the doors and tailgate). The overall look promotes a rugged, SUV makeover.

The Stonic also gets some great standard kit. All versions are fitted with LED daytime running lights at the front, as well as neatly integrated roof rails and a rear spoiler. Alloy wheels range in size – they start from 15-inches for the LX entry model, however the Limited model that we tested was fitted with larger 17-inch wheels.

Colour-wise, there are some splendid hues to choose from and you can also get a two-tone option with a black roof which will cost you an extra $500. The stand out choice for us is the Mighty Yellow two-tone option.

Feeling High

The Stonic and the Rio that it’s based upon share an identical 2,580mm wheelbase, but the Stonic is jacked up a further 70mm and has an added 35mm in width.

Another tweak is the rear overhang, which has been lengthened by 70mm to improve the luggage space. It’s really interesting to see how much of a new car Kia could make from a pre-existing platform.

The legroom up front is about average, and due to the extended rear overhang the boot offers a reasonable 332 litres of capacity, which is ample for this class of vehicle. Due to the storage area being quite low, you will however have to contend with a reasonably-sized lip in order to maximise the available space. The rear seats have a 60:40 split, and 1,135 litres of space is on offer should you fold the rear seats. The high loading area makes the space available very useful.

The cabin is very practical and has numerous storage areas throughout, including a centre console box and cupholders and bottle holders in each door.

At this price point, you naturally wouldn’t expect the most premium feeling interior, but it feels pretty well put together and durable. Kia has also added small subtle touches to spruce things up, like a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter (which are both standard equipment).

At the heart of the Stonic is a new upgraded eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers. There’s also a reversing camera included with dynamic guidelines to aid in tricky parking spots.

As you would expect from a new model, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity is standard across every model. Satellite navigation is also included in the Limited model which we tested. All models also feature a 4.2-inch TFT LCD colour supervision instrument display to deliver key information to the driver.

The Drive

The new Stonic benefits from Australian suspension and steering system tuning, meaning it’s well set up for New Zealand roads. The steering is nimble and needs just 2.52 turns between the extremes of locks, providing a tight turning circle of 5.2 metres.

The new Smartstream engine is found in the Stonic LX, EX and Limited models. The 1.4-litre engine is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic and uses Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology to make the most of its 74kW of power and 133Nm of torque. Our model was fitted with this engine configuration and its fine for around town cruising. On the open road, however, you can hear the engine working harder than you might expect.

GT Line and GT Line+ models, receive a more excitable 1.0-litre, three-cylinder GDi Turbo engine, mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. This combination offers a perkier ride, with the engine developing 74kW at 6,000rpm and 171Nm of torque. It also offers even greater economy to boot at 5.4L/100km, with CO2 emissions of 125g/km.


The Kia Stonic enters a very condensed segment of the market with models like the Toyota Yaris Cross, Mazda CX-3 and Volkswagen T-Cross all vying for top spot.

All in all, Kia offers a very good package with the Stonic. The only thing that would have been the icing on the cake is if it were to include a few more mod cons, like wireless charging, as standard.

The Stonic is a vehicle designed with sagacious buyers in mind, and we predict that it will be a top seller in New Zealand.

At a glance


Kia Stonic




From $23,990

ANCAP safety rating

5 star (2017)




Six-speed auto

Fuel economy/CO2

6.7L/100km, 155g/km

Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

332 litres

Safety systems

  • Hill-Start Assist Control
  • Electronic Stability Assist (ESC)
  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
  • Rear Parking Sensors
  • Front Parking Sensors (excludes LX)
  • Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist Rear (excludes LX and GT line)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (excludes LX and GT line)

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