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MOTORS NORTH: Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT is a small smart car with lots of style and big attitude

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Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT
Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT

Its name sounds like a bit of Glasgow banter, as in “he wis pure stonic, so he wis.”

But it turns out the Kia Stonic gets its name – in true Far Eastern automotive style – from combining the words “stylish” and “iconic”.

That’s a bit contrived but it is a smart small car, the latest in the current trend for higher-riding, not-quite SUVs, which seem more popular than ever and have replaced the hatchback as the runabout of choice.

There’s certainly plenty of choice in the showrooms with the likes of the Ford Puma, Nissan’s Juke, the Peugeot 2008 and the Kamiq from Skoda, so the Stonic has got its work cut out to compete.

It’s basically a beefed-up Rio supermini with bigger wheels and tyres and pumped-up suspension to give it a higher ride along with some bulgy body styling to make it look a bit tougher.

Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT
Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT

It is front wheel drive and the engine choice is simple – there are just two 1.0 litre petrol units and a manual gearbox or a seven-speed DCT automated manual transmission, which was in the test car coupled with the more powerful engine. It’s a mild hybrid electric set-up for better economy and reduced emissions but no lack of power for the range of tasks it’ll be asked to perform, thanks to the electric boost.

The 48-volt MHEV system provides electric power assistance under acceleration and when the car decelerates it switches to “generator” mode, recuperating energy to recharge the battery.

It’s a very good system which helps keep up the mpg, but you know there’s always the oomph in reserve if you need it.

I enjoyed its performance and while its suspension is firm it’s well-adjusted to our dubious road surface quality and goes about its business nimbly and with sure footing.

Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT
Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT

The test car was in top-of-the-range GT-Line S trim, and so was also remarkably well-equipped like all of the Kia range. Looking round the interior, the cloth and faux leather seats are heated in the front and so is the steering wheel which bristles with controls. The equipment is extensive, from smart cruise control to reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass and electrically folding door mirrors.

The 4.2-inch colour cluster display is crystal clear while the eight-inch touchscreen which sits high on the dashboard has large icons that make it easy to use on the move and was simple to access for the range of functions and sat-nav while there’s still buttons and switches on the dashboard for other more frequently-used systems.

The GT-Line comes with LED lights all round including projection headlights with bending, welcome and follow-me-home functions and there’s a stack of safety features such as blind-spot collision warning, lane-keeping assist and forward collision avoidance to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

The two top versions stand out in the range with two-tone paintwork. In the test car the roof, wing mirror casings and rear spoiler were picked out in black to contrast with the bright blue main body colour.

The Stonic has the best shoulder room of any car in its class, as well as good head and legroom in both front and back, while the longer rear overhang means the boot is bigger too.

The increase in overall height means there’s great all-round visibility and a greater feeling of safety which buyers give as their main reasons for choosing an SUV.

The navigation system draws on cloud-based real-time data to predict traffic levels, to give a more accurate picture of estimated time of arrival. The new “last mile navigation” feature lets drivers continue navigating on their phone to their final destination, even after they have parked up and left their car behind, handy where parking is often some distance from shops and restaurants.

A major benefit is that the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is transferable to subsequent owners, as long as it’s still within the time limit and the mileage is below 100,000.

CAR: Kia Stonic GT-Line S T-GDi DCT

PRICE: £23,750

ENGINE: 998cc 3 cyl petrol 48V Mild hybrid ‘Eco-Dynamics+’

POWER: 118 bhp

TORQUE: 200 Nm

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 115mph 0-60mph 10.4 secs

CO2 EMISSIONS: 129g/km

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