by Kannan Chandran
FOR a one-litre motor, the Kia Stonic SX M-Hybrid delivers a perky and lively drive.
Thanks to modern demands for a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly power plant, most car companies have been working to balance the pulling demands of electric vehicles, petrol and diesel engines and combinations of engines that appeal to different segments of society.
In the mass market, attractiveness — looks and price — will determine most decisions. And it’s a busy field to choose from.
The Stonic SX is the most expensive of three variants of this compact SUV model from Kia.
All three run with the three-cylinder Smartstream engine with a displacement of 998cc. The 48V mild-hybrid engines on the EX and SX variants reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve fuel efficiency and do not compromise on acceleration, with 200Nm of torque kicking in from 2,000rpm.
The SX differentiates itself with metal pedals, 16” wheels, a sunroof, fog lamps, roof rack, LED lamps in the rear and safety gear that monitors blind spots and rear cross-traffic in the event you are reversing out of a narrow driveway.
The SX is priced at *$93,999 and the less kitted out version, the EX, comes in at *$89,999, while the petrol option is *$86,999.
To make things more enticing in this sub-$100K segment, the Stonic is available in nine paint finishes with the option of having the body and roof in different colours.
Put pedal to the metal and the SX appears fairly fleet off the mark, considering its engine size, though it takes 10.4 seconds to get up to 100kmh. This is slightly quicker than the pure petrol engine, which takes 11.7 seconds.
The SX is good for city driving, easily manoeuvrable and responsive, if slightly overzealous with its front-wheel-drive dynamics. The seven-speed, double-clutch transmission helps to switch through the gears efficiently, and the handling is quite stable.
This Kia bestseller, as far as SUVs go, will appeal to the customer that wouldn’t mind a reasonably priced vehicle that is functional and still equipped with the safety and connectivity features that rival more expensive cars. And the same goes for the six-speaker sound system; I’ve heard worse in more expensive cars.
The Smartstream engine features three drive modes — Eco, Sport and Normal. In many cars, eco means a basic drive with most things shut down. In the SX, the engine shuts down and coasts, depending on the charge level of the powertrain, without noticeably affecting performance. In Sport, there’s more noise, though not necessarily that much more momentum.
Inside the cabin, it’s tight at the back, and roomy enough in front with a decent boot.
The interior mix of leather and plastic is functional but offers a good degree of modern convenience.
The 8” infotainment screen provide most of the required connections, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Connectivity can be spotty at times, but generally, it delivers convenience on the move and familiarity in terms of operating environments.
The Stonic is not unpleasant to look at. Its form is amplified to suit its role as an SUV, even if it is limited in that capacity.
But it might just be enough for your general needs.
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Max output: kW
Max torque: Nm
0-100kmh: 10.4 seconds
Top speed: 185kmh
Fuel consumption: 4.7 L/100m
Gross weight: 1,288 kg
Fuel tank: 45 L
Length: 4,140 mm
Width: 1,760 mm
Height: 1,500 mm (with roof rack)
VES banding: A2
*Confirm price with dealer https://www.cyclecarriage.com/sg/kia/stonic
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