Beating cabin fever with the Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic 1.4 EX AT

The long lockdown and continued health and safety restrictions can take their toll on many. No doubt, some of your are already seeking out brief ways to escape the monotony of the city. With many tourist spots beginning to open up, quick escapes for a breather are now possible. And thankfully, there’s a Kia vehicle that’s just right for such occassions.

Launched in October last year, Kia’s new Stonic is a small crossover that’s perfect for both the city and quick jaunts out of it.

With a short vacation long overdue, we hopped into Kia Stonic 1.4 EX A/T and took a short drive to Batangas. Not to worry as proper health protocols such as swab tests and social distancing measures were applied. The small group of six drivers and their cars ensured safety was observed for everyone involved.

The route entailed passing through SLEX and on to the first portion of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) taking us to the foothills of Tagaytay. From there, we headed down to Batangas for a leisurely lunch at Casitas de Victoria in Batangas.

Kia Philippines President, Manny Aligada, with a row of Kia Stonic crossovers.

The Stonic is offered in bright and youthful colors, sports Kia’s trademark Tiger Nose Grille, and eye-catching styling. Its compact size makes it easy to manage in the busy city, yet it also comes with SUV traits that make it perfect for road trips too.

These are features like a front engine guard, body protection and overfenders for venturing into rougher roads, roof rails for mounting accessories like a rack or awning, and a high ground clearance of 185 mm for clearing rough patches of road or even light floods.

Hopping in is easy thanks to features like smart keys. With the key in your pocket or bag, simply push the little button on the door handle to unlock. A push-start button fires up the engine instantly. Finally, backing out of a parking space is made easier with the help of a rearview camera.

It may look small, but offers plenty of space for passengers. It boasts of a 2,570 mm wheelbase to give both front and rear passengers lots of legroom. Its cargo area can fit bags good for a 3-day stay, or expanded to 325 liters with the rear seats folded down.

Perhaps its most appealing feature most utilized on road trips is its entertainment system. The Stonic comes with an eight-inch touchscreen audio system that easily connects one’s mobile device via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Able to connect via Bluetooth or charge simultaneously with a cable, tunes and directions can stream into the cabin thanks to compatible apps like Waze, Spotify and even digital assistants like Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri.

Propelling the vehicle is a 1.4-liter dual CVVT petrol engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission (M/T option available). This provides up to 100 PS and 132 Nm torque. The automatic comes with a tiptronic shifter to give the driver manual control.

The invigorating drive was certainly a welcome change to the monotony of the city. The winding roads and relatively light weekday traffic allowed us to really enjoy all the Stonic had to offer.

Thanks to its compact dimensions and very light weight, the car is zippy, agile, and quite surprisingly efficient. Overtakes were easy thanks to the quick-reacting tiptronic mode that downshifts as soon as you command it to.

Come the winding roads, the Stonic handles it with enthusiasm. The vehicle’s light weight made it easy to turn in. Despite the high ground clearance it felt planted on the road.

That heigh payed even more dividends when at our lunch venue. Hidden gems like Casitas de Victoria often have a short rough patch of road you have to traverse before entering. No worries here. The Stonic’s high clearance meant we sailed through even the tallest rocks and deepest potholes.

Even in the highly unlikely event that something goes wrong, Kia offers a customer-centric five-year or 160,000-km warranty, as well as with a 24/7 Roadside Assistance free for five years. This covers Emergency Towing, Personal Assistance, Minor Onsite Repair, Medical Assistance and Information Service for a secured, enjoyable and worry-free ownership.

The only downside to our quick escape was having to return the car at the end of the day. The compact but very versatile Stonic proved you don’t need big, hulking SUV even in the new normal. This do-it-all crossover can handle the daily grind and the occassional escape with ease.