Stonic. KIA’s name for something speedy, with an iconic design. Crucially, it meets today’s needs for a modern, capable, versatile everyday vehicle for first-time car buyers wanting a bit more style, flair and extended mobility and range afforded by the tall ride-height.
Built atop the Hyundai-KIA Group’s GB Platform which it shares with the RIO hatchback, the Stonic is the brand’s subcompact cross-over, aimed squarely at a young, vibrant first-time car owner / driver. The features read out to be a techie’s wishlist: small, efficient yet responsive 1.4 liter Kappa gasoline engine delivering a modest 100hp and 132 Newton-Meters of torque, driving the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Apple CarPlay is standard, as is a reverse camera, mated to a modest 4,100mm footprint. The 1,735mm width, coupled with the 1,533mm overall height means the Stonic fits in most tight inner city streets and car ports, and in hip and happening places like Poblacion District in Makati. The tight 5.2 meter turning radius alos allows you to easily maneuver out of tight spots. You also get a generous 185mm ground clearance, giving you confidence to go through some light dirt trails when you want to hit the beach or go camping, and the 16-inch alloy wheels shod with all-season NEXEN touring tires means driving over most road conditions will be a breeze. Roof rails on top makes it easy to install roof bars and a basket, or bike racks or even a surfboard or a small kayak. KIA truly intends to push this stylish cross-over to the young outdoorsy types with very active lifestyles. The 352 liter trunk capacity is quite modest, but drop the split-folding 60:40 seats and that expands to 1,155 liters of useful cargo space. Still modest, but more than enough for two people on a long drive out of town.
Inside, the simple yet functional interior feels very modern, chic and airy: the large glasshouse area gives a feeling of space and freedom despite the overall cross-over being a subcompact. Indeed, design maven Peter Schreyer truly worked his magic on this entry-level cross-over.
And despite being an entry-level model, KIA didn’t skimp on safety. The EX model Stonic comes with four airbags, ABS-EBD brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, as well as rear parking sensors working in tandem with the rear camera.
It’s honestly very easy to get lost on all the PR and marketing blurb, so KIA Philippines decided to put select motoring journalists inside the KIA Stonic and have them sample the latest cross-over over varying road conditions. From busy city streets, to our new world-class expressways, to equally tight and rough provincial roads, and over undulating mountain passes before heading back to the Metro.
We started out in Bonifacio Global City and headed for NAIAX, exiting at Coastal Highway and connecting to Cavitex Expressway, terminating at Kawit, on the western side of the province of Cavite. As summer was knocking on our doors, the coastal drive was very hot and humid, but thankfully the Stonic’s powerful AC kept us chill, as we enjoyed music streamed online and played through the KIA’s surprisingly impressive infotainment system. From Kawit, we went through Noveleta, Rosario, Tanza, Naic, Marogondon and finally Ternate, before entering Nasugbu in Batangas to enjoy the beautiful, almost empty, undulating and winding roads covered in freshly laid asphalt. For me, it was also my first time to pass through the 300 meter long Kaybiang Tunnel underneath Mt. Palay-Palay, the Philippine’s longest subterranean tunnel. This tunnel connects Ternate, Cavite to Nasugbu Batangas, making travel easier, and faster for both coastal towns. From Nasugbu, we headed back towards Cavite via Marogondon, Magallanes, Alfonso with a hearty stop at the famous Escala Tagaytay Hotel with its breathtaking panoramic view of Taal Lake and Volcano. KIA Philippines President Manny Aligada joined us and answered some questions for KIA’s immediate and long-term plans, giving us a hint of the brand’s very bright future in the country.
The Stonic, despite its modest 100hp and 132 Newton-Meters of torque, made easy work of our challenging route. The rough roads highlighted the impressive chassis rigidity of the Stonic, the winding roads showed how well-behaved and sorted the suspension is, and the long uphill ascents and descents allowed the powertrain to shine, with the brakes providing an even more impressive performance as it shrugged off repeated high-speeds down steep paths. In reality, the Stonic is so well dynamically refined that its chassis can easily handle double the power, and double the torque. Here’s hoping the Stonic receives a hefty power upgrade in the future! Driving back home late at night on the highway, the Stonic also impressed with its excellent NVH isolation, providing a relaxed and refined drive, thanks in part to its generous 2,570mm wheelbase, allowing you to focus on savoring the peace and serenity of the night, devoid of traffic and mayhem, allowing you to recharge and recuperate from our tiring adventure.
The KIA tonic is the future of entry-level personal mobility. There’s nothing entry-level about its style, features and driving dynamics. Only the price is entry-level. It feels solid, well-built, functional and appeals to a generation hungry for adventure. Once the pandemic is well and truly over, the Stonic is the perfect vehicle to take on that road trip you’ve been promising yourself.
A car enthusiast through and through, Botchi Santos believes that different people have different needs. He tries to find the best car for a specific audience, and spruces things up by delving into car culture, helping make the local car community vibrant and enjoyable for all. His passion for motoring is built around a belief that cars are among the top three life purchases.