[This article was first published on motorist.sg]
The compact and sporty Kia Stonic now comes with mild hybrid capabilities, making it fun to drive while also keeping petrol costs down.
If someone told us 10 years ago that SUVs were going to take over the market, we would have given them a sceptical look. However, in today’s automotive landscape, the SUV body shape dominates and it seems all car manufacturers are hopping on this trend.
Enter the Kia Stonic M-Hybrid, the compact but capable crossover model in the Korean automaker’s range. Launched back in 2019, this new 2021 model now sports mild hybrid technology, and Kia claims it can provide more fun and functionality while keeping your wallet happy.
We’ll say it now - the Kia Stonic M-Hybrid is a good looking car. It’s not a huge car by any standards, but the subtle bold looks complement the small body form factor rather nicely.
The front of the Stonic M-Hybrid takes design cues from other Kia models, with its signature tiger nose grille and vertical fog lamp housings. The car now sports full LED headlights with daytime running lights (DRLs) too.
Round the back, the spoiler-capped backlight window and roof rack give the car a sporty appearance. The taillights are full LEDs as well, an option that only comes with the SX trim level. The silver skid plate breaks the colour monotony, rounding off the car’s design aesthetics.
As the unit we tested was the higher trim SX variant, it boasted extra features such as a sunroof, fog lamps and a roof rack. It also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels as standard.
While the Stonic M-Hybrid does come as an attractive package, as a compact SUV it only has 352 litres of space available, making it a challenge to fit larger items such as a baby stroller. However, second row seats can be folded down in a 60:40 configuration, giving you the flexibility to expand cargo space up to 1,155 litres!
As for colour options, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We love the fact that amongst the 9 single body colours offered, the Kia Stonic M-Hybrid comes with bright funky colours such as the new "Sporty Blue" in addition to "Most Yellow" and "Signal Red" that were already available since the previous generation. You can also further customise your Kia Stonic M-Hybrid with 20 two-tone colour combinations that are on indent basis only.
The interior of the Stonic M-Hybrid is a pleasant place to be. It does not have lavish materials, but the entire cabin has a simple design language that makes it easy to navigate.
Sitting between the analogue speedometer and tachometer is a 4.2-inch supervision cluster display.
The Kia Stonic M-Hybrid also comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, upgraded from the previous 7-inch. Now, it also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which is a nice touch.
Once connected with your smartphone, you can enjoy apps such as Google Maps and Spotify flawlessly while you're on the go.
The seats are comfortable and made of faux leather. However, they do not come with electronic adjustment functionality, even for the driver’s side.
The rear legroom is great, with the car able to accommodate three adults easily. There are two USB ports in the car; one in the front alongside a 12V outlet, and the other behind the centre console, enabling passengers to charge devices while on the go.
The Kia Stonic M-Hybrid now features an array of safety features designed to assist the driver while on the road. Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Torque Vectoring System (TVBB) keep the car stable during braking and cornering.
Other safety features include the Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when stopped on an incline. New Advanced Driver Assistive Systems (ADAS) such as Blind-Spot Collision Warning System (BCW) detects vehicles in your blind-spot and warns you with a warning symbol on the side mirror together with an audible alert.
While parking, its front and rear Parking Distance Warning (PDW) uses ultrasonic sensors to warn of any obstacles when you manoeuvre into a parking space. Coupled with the Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning that warns you if it detects any cross traffic in the lane that you are entering, you can now move in and out of your parking space safely and easily.
The Kia Stonic M-Hybrid comes with a punchy 1.0-litre T-GDi Smartstream engine that is paired together with a 48-volt mild hybrid EcoDynamics+ Powertrain to provide the car with additional power during acceleration and recuperates energy during phases such as braking or deceleration.
The 7-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission also provides a nice balance between performance and fuel economy while cruising. Acceleration is not ridiculously fast, but it can get you out of a tight spot in a pinch, or allow you to claim your spot when overtaking other vehicles.
The Stonic M-Hybrid, when set to Eco mode, also comes with an innovative feature known as “Sailing mode”. If the accelerator or brake pedals are not depressed while cruising, the car shuts off the engine.
This “free-wheeling” state enables the car to coast without engine braking, conserving fuel in the process. This mode is automatically cancelled once the driver depresses either pedal.
We found this feature to be really handy while cruising on expressways. We would accelerate slightly and let the car enter Sailing mode. This allowed it to silently close the gap with the vehicle ahead, which significantly improved the fuel consumption of the car.
When driving economically, the car's fuel efficiency can go up to an impressive 21.2km/litre.
While driving the car you have the option of three driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. In Sport mode, the auto start-stop and sailing functions are disabled, and the car keeps its revs up to ensure optimal power delivery when you place your foot down.
Personally, we kept the car in Eco mode most of the time, and never felt the need to switch to the other two modes. The fuel-saving start-stop feature was noticeable, but it did not hinder the driving experience at all, with the car moving off briskly each time the traffic lights turned green.
As for handling, the car is pretty agile. The steering is light and responsive, and even though the car is a crossover with a higher centre of gravity, body roll is kept under control. This gives you the confidence to dart the car into corners.
Most people would not bat an eyelid at cars in the small crossover category, citing the small engines and size as inferior to other cars on the market. However, we urge you to give the new Kia Stonic M-Hybrid a try. There is also a turbocharged petrol variant available in the Stonic lineup. Additionally, customers get to enjoy a sweet $15,000 VES rebate and an exclusive $2,000 off the launch offer for a limited time only!
Best of all, the Stonic M-Hybrid is a car that can easily transit a driver to more eco-friendly vehicles without having to change their driving habits. It is affordable, practical, and most importantly a fun car to drive. What’s there not to love?
Trust us, it will genuinely surprise you!