Juke it out

CAR (UK) - - First Drives - GARETH EVANS


HERE’S LESS brand loy­alty in the com­pact cross­over world than in any other sec­tor of the mar­ket. De­sign can make a huge di­er­ence. So it’s puz­zling the neat wrap­around C-pil­lar on the new Stonic is only vis­i­ble on top-spec First Edi­tion cars with their con­trast­ing roof. In this crowded cor­ner of the mar­ket, mak­ers need some­thing special – like that C-pil­lar – to stand out against the Re­nault Cap­tur and Nis­san Juke.

Luck­ily the new fam­ily face – dubbed 3D Tiger Nose – comes on all Ston­ics, and the han­dling’s de­cent, al­beit in an oddly sporty way. The chas­sis’s de­rived from the Rio’s, with MacPher­son struts up front and a twist­beam rear axle, but with a new hy­draulic re­bound stop­per to coun­ter­act the ex­tra body move­ment from the 42mm taller ride height.

The Stonic re­mains com­posed over most sur­faces, but the ride is se­ri­ously “irm, and that seems at odds with its jacked-up SUV looks. Like the steer­ing, the ride feels close to hot hatch ter­ri­tory. But that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. You can’t have a Stonic that’ll hit 62mph in un­der 10 sec­onds. We’re driv­ing the quick­est of the trio here: a blown triple that doesn’t pro­duce any­thing mean­ing­ful un­til you’ve passed 2500rpm, at which point it war­bles its way up the rev range with­out much ur­gency.

The driv­ing po­si­tion is rel­a­tively low-slung, with a good range of easy ad­just­ment. The cock­pit lay­out’s tra­di­tional, with a seven-inch touch­screen as stan­dard but no nav – you’ll need a First Edi­tion for that too. The boot’s small for the class, but the cabin has room for four big adults, re“lect­ing the sort of buyer Kia’s hop­ing to at­tract: the 25¡45 up-and-at-‘em set.

Stonic is front-drive only, de­spite SUV-lite looks. Choice of small-cc petrols and diesels

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