[Behind the wheel] Kia’s Stonic compact SUV, fuel-efficient but not so quiet

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 6, 2017 - 15:31
  • Updated : Aug 6, 2017 - 17:37
Kia Motors‘ subcompact SUV Stonic released last month driving on roads near Seoul. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Kia Motors, South Korea’s No. 2 automotive company, last month released Stonic, a subcompact sport utility vehicle priced from 18 million won ($16,200) in a bid to replace the best-selling Tivoli compact SUV made by SsangYong Motor with an affordable price tag.

Reporters were given a chance to take the new B-segment SUV out for a 150 kilometer test drive back and forth between Mayfield Hotel in western Seoul and a cafe located in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. The model provided for the drive was the prestige trim equipped with various safety systems, a smart navigation and more.

As Kia Motors tried to imply in the name Stonic -- a compound word of “speedy” and “tonic” -- the SUV was speedy and fuel-efficient, which may appeal to motorists in their 20s and 30s. The shortcoming, however, was that there was also a considerable level of noise along the way.

The vehicle was noted for its outstanding fuel efficiency which hit 20.2 km per liter during the return trip, which was higher than the model’s official record of 17 km per liter.

Zippy acceleration in the low speed zone of below 30 kilometer per hour showed that the vehicle was optimized for daily urban driving.

Stonic is powered by a 1.6-liter E-VGT diesel engine that produces a maximum horsepower of 110 and 30.6 kilogram-meters of torque, the company said.

But the loud noise experienced at speeds of over 110 kilometers per hour on the highway made it difficult for the driver and passengers to talk without raising their voices. Sound-sensitive motorists might reconsider before making a purchase.

Of the advance driver assistant systems installed, the most distinctive was the land departure warning.

Based upon the input from a small forward camera, the LDW sends alerts to the driver whenever the vehicle is about to deviate from a lane without signal.

Stonic’s LDW seemed to detect possible lane departures more quickly than other Kia vehicles, and issued a louder warning sound which might come in handy for inexperienced drivers.

Because of cost maintenance, the Stonic SUV does not carry semi-automated drive systems, such as lane keeping assist in Hyundai’s Kona compact SUV which would automatically take control of the steering wheel in case of necessity, even without intervention from the driver.

In terms of car size, Stonic is smaller than other B-segment SUVs – 4.14 meters long, 1.76 meters wide and 1.52 meters high, according to the company.

The driver and front passenger seats, however, had sufficient leg room for a built 176-centimeter tall male driver and 172-centimeter-tall female driver to enjoy a comfortable driving experience.

It remains to be seen whether Kia’s Stonic will be able to take over SsangYong Motor’s Tivoli as the No.1 best-selling compact SUV in Korea.

In July, Tivoli posted sales of 4,479 units and retained its position as the leading compact SUV here, company said.

According to Kia Motors, over 2,500 units of Stonic SUV were sold between July 27 and Aug. 24.

Among drivers who purchased Kia’s Stonic, those in their 20s made up 22.5 percent and those in their 30s made up 34.8 percent, the company said.

The company added, 55.9 percent of customers so far chose the prestige trim.

Stonic subcompact SUV is priced between 18.9 million won and 22.6 million won.

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):
Design: 3 stars
Safety: 3 stars
Gas Mileage: 5 stars
Price: 5 stars
Overall: 16/20

By Kim Bo-gyung (