Our Kia Stonic proves to be a useful companion for car cleaning

By Ted Welford

What do most people use small crossovers for? Taking the kids to school? A Wednesday morning trip to the supermarket? A visit to the local garden centre to spend three hours looking at some pansies before sampling a cup of mediocre (at best) coffee? Perhaps all of these, but this month, I wondered if anyone’s ever used one as a valeting van.

Well, always one to enjoy testing a car’s practicality, I thought I’d give the Kia Stonic a chance to prove itself in this field.

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I must explain at this point that car valeting is my weekend hobby — I don’t just pointlessly cart car cleaning products, pressure washers, vacuum cleaners and hosepipes around for no apparent reason.

My first thought about LF18 NKM was amazement at just how much you could fit in its boot. I was partly expecting to have to have Henry (the vac – not my invisible friend) sat on the passenger seat next to me. Pleasantly, I had no problem fitting it in the boot and with the parcel shelf in place alongside the products, buckets, hosepipe, extension cord and pressure washer needed for the job. It certainly seemed more spacious than its 352-litre capacity suggested. Step one mastered.

Step two was to drive 50 miles to West Sussex to work on a rather special Honda NSX. While the Stonic is not designed with motorway driving in mind, it’s remarkably capable – particularly for Ted’s Car Valeting.

It’ll sit comfortably at 70mph without the engine feeling too strained — although wind and road noise is pretty noticeable. It’s at speeds like these where fuel economy suffers, though, as you struggle to see anything over the 40mpg marker – some way off its claimed 56.5mpg figure.

Anyway, everything arrived in one piece to a rather large house in sleepy Sussex. I won’t lie, the Stonic looked out of place. Not only was it unusual to see a crossover being used in this way and, while Kia by no means has an image problem, this was an area where it seemed compulsory to own at least two of the latest Range Rover models. It was more Monaco than Margate, to say the least, and it wouldn’t be the first time the Stonic looked like a cat in a dog show this weekend, either.

So that was Saturday, and Sunday involved yet another trip to Sussex – I apologise if this is turning into a Dear Diary state of affairs. This was to one of Goodwood’s breakfast clubs – with supercars being the theme of this one. Not only was there a sea of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, and nearly every modern supercar going, at the actual show but this exotica spread to the car park, too. Parked next to a Ferrari 458 Speciale – worth somewhere in the region of £275,000 – the £17,000 Stonic looked somewhat lost.

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What perhaps plagued my entire weekend, though, were rattles. For a car that’s only just ticked over 3,000 miles, it seems to have developed a collection of them already. While none are permanent, at various speeds and on certain roads, there are rattles and jiggles from behind the touchscreen, underneath the glovebox and one near the centre console, too.

While the Stonic is not an expensive car, you don’t expect rattles on anything so new — hopefully, our car is the exception and not the rule.

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To sum up, the Stonic’s valeting adventure was a success. Not only was my client pleasantly surprised with it, but it proved to be a spacious companion for valeting and for hauling around my detailing gear. While something with a bigger boot – perhaps a Kia Optima Sportwagon – would be preferable (if only so the cloths wouldn’t have to go on the back seats) it was more than up to the job.

The Stonic might be capable, but I need a bit more convincing that it deserves its place in this crowded market for as long as those infuriatingly irritating rattles exist.

Highlight of the month: Ted fits nearly all of his valeting clobber in LF18 NKM’s boot

  • Model: Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi 2
  • Price: £17,540
  • Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
  • Power: 118bhp
  • Torque: 172Nm
  • Max speed: 115mph
  • 0-60mph: 9.9 seconds
  • MPG (Combined): 56.5
  • Emissions: 115g/km CO2
  • Mileage: 3,119 miles