A portmanteau is a blend of words in which parts of multiple words are combined to form a new word, such as “motel”, which was coined by blending the words “motor” and “hotel”. It was not surprising that Kia Motors, the Korean car brand with “The Power to Surprise” motto, used a portmanteau blending “speedy” and “tonic” to name its dynamic subcompact crossover vehicle, the 2021 Kia Stonic. It took a quick drive south, along with a few days of having the car for ourselves, for us to completely appreciate how accurate the Stonic’s name was.
Kia Philippines sent us a retina-scorching yellow Stonic EX A/T for our test drive, along with a pair of matching yellow driving shoes to wear during our quick romp to Tagaytay. After being cooped-up inside the house, quarantined to avoid the dreaded COVID-19 Coronavirus, driving the Stonic was indeed a “speedy tonic” to battle cabin fever and isolation blues. Driving it around light traffic near the speed limit and experiencing its nimble handling was a sure-fire way to blow away the cobwebs off our bones and rejuvenate our sense of adventure.
Attractive Styling, Competitive Pricing
To actively promote the Stonic in today’s social media-savvy pandemic economy, Kia Philippines came up with the hashtag #StyleThatsIconic that refers directly to the car’s overall design, and refers indirectly to the lifestyle of its youthful target market. While it’s arguable that the styling can be considered “iconic”, it does stay within the iconic design norms of “two-box” sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with the smaller box in front to house the drivetrain and the bigger box behind it to house the occupants and some luggage or cargo.
We would like to applaud our friends at Kia Philippines for pricing the Stonic just right for its intended target market. The Stonic LX M/T with 6-speed stick shift is priced at a very affordable suggested retail price (SRP) of P735,000 while opting for a 6-speed automatic transmission-equipped Stonic LX A/T will raise the SRP up to only P835,000. If you want the whole enchalada like our Stonic EX A/T test car, you’ll have to fork out P925,000, which is still way below the Million-plus price tag that we were expecting for a crossover vehicle of this caliber. That’s not a lot of cheese for an attractive speedy tonic like this one, señor.
Well Built and Nicely Equipped
During our “alone time” with our yellow Stonic, we began to appreciate the nifty features that comes standard with it, as well as admire its excellent build quality. The attractive yellow paint finish, for example, looks like a solid color from afar but up close, there are metallic flakes buried deep in that shiny and smooth sheen. The Tiger Nose front grille is well integrated into the Stonic’s handsome facade as are the boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and accented chin spoiler that draws air into the radiator grille opening.
The roof rails hint of utility to connote the Stonic’s SUV aspirations along with the higher 185-millimeter ground clearance and large 16-inch 12-spoke alloy wheels shod in 195/60R16 Nexen tires. Meanwhile, the fin-type antenna, rear spoiler garnish and overall body style emphasize this Kia’s crossover nature with sporting intentions. The attractive design continues to the back of the Stonic with smart-looking combination taillamps mounted in line with the vehicle’s beltline and the integrated reflector/reverse light mounted to the rear bumper.
It’s What Inside That Matters
In the past, we’ve driven vehicles that showed a lot of promise outside but fell short inside. We’re happy to report that the Stonic is pleasing both inside and out. Despite being a subcompact-sized crossover vehicle, the interior was designed to maximize space and provide the occupants with ample head-, shoulder- and legroom. The driver faces a 4-spoke steering wheel with remote controls for the infotainment system, and the seats are amply padded and bolstered for lateral support. Overall, the Stonic’s ergonomic interior looks uncluttered and classy to be in a sub-million-peso vehicle. Well done, Kia!
One of the strongest suits of Kia crossover vehicles is their uncanny ability to offer useful space to carry stuff and the Stonic is no exception. Again, despite being a subcompact, it offers oodles of cargo space, starting with 325 liters behind the rear seats. By simply folding the 60/40 backrest, the backseat offers flexible configurations, offering a accommodations for either a single rear passenger and bulky items or a couple of rear occupants and a long, slim cargo. Space is dramatically increased up to more than 1,200 liters with the rear seat folded flat. And if the cargo is as precious as infants and small children, the Stonic has ISOFIX mounting points to affix child seats and bolsters for the safety of the young ‘uns.
Fun and Nimble Highway Flyer
Just when we thought the fun was going to end, our friends at Kia Philippines came up with an exciting drive that started inside Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, Metro Manila after we underwent a requisite swab test to ensure that all the participants weren’t carrying the virus. Our convoy of new Stonics left BGC before 9:00 in the morning, passed through Pasay City, unto the Coastal Road and Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) in Cavite, on mountain roads leading to the Kaybiang Tunnel to Batangas province, and then back to Cavite. Since we left much later than scheduled, our tour guide/drive master, George Ramirez, really pushed us to drive fast and hard to make it to our destination by lunchtime.
Pushed hard by George and his brother Louie, our convoy drove fast and hard to reach the Abagatan Ti Manila Resort and Events Place in Alfonso, Cavite by 12:00 noon. Abagatan Ti Manila is Ilocano dialect that translates to “south of Manila” and that was where we were literally. George’s daughters and their crew arranged a sumptuous lunch and some light banter with Kia Philippines president Manny Aligada, who was joined by AC Motors’ president Antonio “Toti” Zara, along with Franz Decloedt, Timmy Naval-de Leon, and Catsy Manahan. followed by some photo ops.
The drive was fun but brief, and so was the gathering. In compliance with health protocols, we practiced social distancing, we wore masks and face shields, had an outdoor lunch served near the man-made lagoon, and drove off in our assigned Stonic test units before 3:00 PM. While some of our media colleagues drove home directly, we decided to enjoy our yellow Stonic a little bit more. We drove to the Diokno Highway overlooking the Taal lake and volcano just to enjoy the sights, and then headed down through Sta. Rosa, Laguna, took the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) but detoured to Pasay City via the NIAX skyway to catch the iconic sunset at Manila Bay.
It was indeed a fun drive! The good folks at Kia Motors need to take credit for correctly concocting the “Stonic” portmanteau because this nimble, lithe and sure-footed 1.4-liter Stonic is really a “speedy tonic” to cure the blues. That it’s competitively priced and sips gas (at a recorded 14.7 kilometers per liter during our Tagaytay drive), is a big bonus for those who are considering to live an iconic lifestyle with a subcompact crossover vehicle.
Classification: 5-door compact crossover vehilce
Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 KAPPA Dual-CVVT
Displacement: 1368 cc
Maximum power: 100hp (100 PS) @ 6000 rpm
Maximum torque: 132 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Length: 4100 mm
Height: 1533 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Curb weight: 1530 kg
Ground clearance: 185 mm
Turning radius: 5.3 m
Fuel tank capacity: 50 liters
Trunk capacity: 325 liters
Wheels: 16 x 6.0J Alloy
AC Motors, an automotive division under the Ayala Corporation