It might look like a rental car, but the 2022 Kia Stonic S represents strong ownership value, and is one of the few light SUVs to still come with an affordable price tag.
- Represents great ownership value with strong warranty
- Reliable infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- One of the few SUVs with a manual gearbox available!
- Dull interior presentation
- Pricey servicing
- Minimal storage space
Coming off the back of the 2022 Drive Car of the Year testing and the Best Light SUV category, it’s surprising to see the list prices of entry-level SUVs. We live and breathe the press releases that detail prices everyday, and in isolation these increases in price seem interesting but not alarming.
But to compare cars in physical form beside one another is another thing. Their prices have ballooned across the board by a lot, even from just a few short years ago.
One such car that’s bucking the trend by sticking within a normal price range is the Kia Stonic. Priced from $21,990 plus on-road costs – or $24,690 drive-away – it’s substantially more affordable than key rivals such as the Ford Puma, Volkswagen T-Cross and Toyota Yaris Cross. The range’s flagship model grade, GT-Line, tops out at around $30K, whereas the flagship specifications of its rivals touch the $40K barrier.
When you add in the Kia’s promised seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and its ability to run on affordable 91-octane fuel, it shapes up even further as one of the strongest-value offerings in its segment.
The car you see in pictures is the base-model-grade 2022 Kia Stonic S. It opens the range at $21,990 before on-road costs, or stands at $24,690 drive-away nationwide.
In terms of specification, Kia stocks the base-model S variant with an 8.0-inch touch-controlled infotainment screen, rear-view camera, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
The spec list doesn’t boast a whole lot else to get excited about, but let’s see if the 2022 Kia Stonic S manual is more than the sum of its parts.
|Key details||2022 Kia Stonic S|
|Price (MSRP)||$21,990 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Clear White|
|Price as tested||$24,690 drive-away|
|Rivals||Ford Puma | Mazda CX-3 | Hyundai Venue|
Kia upholsters the Stonic S’s interior with fabric seats and plastic cladding throughout. There’s little in the way of flair or fanciness, though it’s a functional and comfy space for the most part.
The design of the cabin is getting on a bit in age, having stuck around in much the same fashion since the car’s release in 2017. As such, the styling is starting to appear tired and like a generation behind. That said, build quality does feel up to par.
The seats are plush and are built well, with a sturdy fabric covering the seats. There are swathes of black plastic on the door cards that make you feel as though you’re driving a rental car, which feels a bit ordinary compared to the adornments used on entry-level variants of cars such as the Ford Puma.
Though the seats themselves are comfortable to set yourself in, there’s minimal side support through corners. There’s good, simple adjustability of things such as the seats, steering wheel and mirrors to find a cosy driving position.
There is one USB-A port in the front row for charging devices and operating smartphone mirroring, and one 12-volt power outlet. As is normal for the light SUV segment, the back seat space is a no-frills affair. Leg room is decent, so is foot room and head room. It’s a fine place to spend decent stints of time as an adult passenger.
Kia says boot space is 352L. The cavity has a higher load lip, which can make loading in larger items a task. Underneath the boot floor mat hides a space-saver spare wheel.
|2022 Kia Stonic S|
|Boot volume||352L seats up / 1155L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
For all its basic-ness, the Stonic S is gifted with a neat 8.0-inch infotainment screen that runs a simple infotainment software package.
For those who prefer to use the familiar Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smartphone mirroring can be used by connecting a compatible phone, wirelessly for Apple, or either wireless or via USB for Android devices. There is a small multifunction display within the instrument cluster to view key vehicle settings and information, and the screen can show a digital speed readout. Annoyingly, though, the screen will not show your cruise-control speed setting.
The main infotainment screen is an easy one to use. There are shortcuts along the bottom of the screen for key functions that make navigating between screens quick. We’ve rarely had bad experiences with Kia’s infotainment system, which tends to work reliably without malfunctioning or displaying improperly.
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The Kia Stonic scored five stars in its 2017 Australian New Car Assessment Program test. Interestingly, this test was completed on the Kia Rio hatchback and extrapolated to include the Kia Stonic, which shares much of its structure and safety equipment with the entry-level hatch.
The Stonic’s level of safety equipment may not score a full five-star rating if tested to newer, stricter protocols.
All models come standard with a suite of safety tech including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, lane-keep assist, lane-following assist, driver-attention alert, leading vehicle departure alert, hill-start assist, speed-sensing auto door locks, two ISOFIX mounts, plus front, side and curtain airbags.
As stated, the prices of light SUVs is higher than you’d expect. The Kia Stonic is one of the few that remains in the $20,000–$30,000 range, with the Stonic S manual on test costing $24,690 drive-away.
That fares better than the $30,340–$35,890 (plus on-road costs) you’d pay for a Ford Puma, and is more affordable than the $26,990–$37,990 Toyota Yaris Cross.
In terms of servicing, Kia makes you pay $1047 for three years or $1958 for five years. Intervals occur every 12 months or 15,000km.
|At a glance||2022 Kia Stonic S|
|Warranty||Seven years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1047 (3 years), $1958 (5 years)|
While the servicing costs may be pricey, Kia offers one of the best warranties on the new car market with seven years of coverage (and no distance limit for private buyers).
You can fuel the Stonic with regular 91-octane regular unleaded petrol. Kia says it’ll return a 6.0L/100km rating on a combined cycle, while our testing indicated a 7.3L/100km figure around town.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.0L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||7.3L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||45L|
The entry-level Stonic S is supplied with a natuarally aspirated 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that sends 74kW/133Nm through the front wheels. Curiously for the new car market, where you’ll find fewer manual gearboxes by the day, Kia offers the Stonic with a six-speed manual transmission.
While outputs feel ordinary when deployed onto the tarmac, it is a fun car to pedal around using the now-novel manual gearbox. You do have to time overtakes accordingly, considering the lack of available in-gear torque on tap, but you’re easily able to time this yourself using the manual gearbox.
The engine stays quiet for the most part, but some road roar can be heard echoing about the cabin, especially on coarse-chip bitumen.
At just over 4m long (4140mm to be exact), the Stonic is right-sized to drive around town. It’s nimble, manoeuvrable, and the vision out of the wagon-shaped glasshouse is great.
The Australian-tweaked suspension tune is comfortable for suburban duty, and more than capable of dulling sharp road joins and bigger potholes.
The Stonic is even competent when headed further afield. It remains composed and flat through tight bends, and the front end is agile and easy to handle. You wouldn’t go so far as to call it an engaging experience, but it can be a sweet and entertaining thing to drive through a small set of twisty corners.
|Key details||2022 Kia Stonic S|
|Engine||1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||74kW @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||133Nm @ 4000rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||64.0kW/t|
It was a late entrant to the light SUV category, but considering it exists in a price band of its own, the Kia Stonic is a worthy addition to a hotly contested space.
It’s a handy little thing to run about in, stocks enough tech to keep you happy, and will cater to you and your friends without too many complaints. Just don’t expect them to be too impressed by the Stonic’s spartan interior.
Overall, though, add in Kia’s renowned after-sales warranty and servicing arrangement, and it starts to look like a very attractive ownership proposition.