2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line Review

The 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line offers a lot for a little, until you look at the engine - then it's a little for a little, and not in a good way

Matt Brand
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Cheap in a world of expensive everything
  • Relatively good fuel economy
  • Great inclusions for price


  • Bad engine choices
  • Transmission is even worse
  • Interior quality leaves a lot to be desired
Car specs

74kW + 172Nm

$30,790 Before On-Roads

5.4L Claimed

5 Star ANCAP

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The Kia Stonic is a car I love to hate. It represents great value for money in an era where cars are so unaffordable.

But it has its flaws, and some – mostly the drivetrain – are things you need to know before you commit to buying one.

The Kia Stonic is heavily based on the Kia Rio, which was recently announced to be axed from the local Kia Range as euro-emissions become more strict and Australian regulations follow suit.

When the Kia Rio was around, it was very easy to tell people to just go buy that. But now we revisit the cheapest Kia SUV you can buy, in its most expensive GT-Line guise.

So should you buy the Kia Stonic GT-Line? Or any Stonic? Let’s talk about that!

What does the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line Cost?

The Kia Stonic is one of those cars that actual people can afford, which is already a big tick. Starting at $22,290 for the ‘S’ trim and 6 speed manual, you can also option a 6 speed automatic for just $1,500 extra.

Today we are testing the GT-Line, which is $8,500 more than the manual S trim coming in at $30,790. The Kia Stonic is however heavily based on the Kia Rio hatchback, which in equivalent GT-Line spec is $5,000 cheaper. Considering the biggest difference between the cars are 7cm in height, 7.5cm in length and 3.5cm in width, the difference is marginal for so much money. It’s a shame that the Kia Rio has been killed off due to tightening emissions. That would have been the pick.

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What is the exterior like on the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

The Kia Stonic was a late comer to the Australian market, and we received the facelifted variant a couple of years ago.

Up front are a pair of bright LED headlights, with some pretty gnarly looking daytime running lights. The GT-Line scores upgraded lights over the halogen units in the S and Sport variants.

The tiger nose grille is a small unit, mostly blocked up to aid efficiency as the 1.0L 3 cylinder does not require much cooling due to its low output – more on that deficiency later.

The new Kia logo is really cool, but impossible to see on this ‘rental car’ white (not its real name, but that is what it is reminiscent of).

Speaking of our unit was optioned with the $0-cost option two tone roof. What’s wrong with that? Well, you delete the sunroof. This doesn’t happen with other manufacturers, so it seems to be a bit of a copout.

The 18” wheels look great for what is an economy car, Kia do a great job on all their wheel designs. You get keyless entry and go which is a surprise, and factory tinted windows which is usually reserved for higher cost cars. Nice.

Coming to the rear, and this is where your ‘rental car’ vibes come in. The halogen tail lights look suitably average and you can hardly see the logo thanks to the stainless steel look design.

Otherwise, it is a standard looking Micro SUV that you probably wouldn’t look twice at. Hey, at least it’s cheap.

What is the interior like on the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

The last time I sat in the interior of the Kia Stonic, I slammed it. But in a world of increasingly unobtainable cars, the Kia Stonic gives you what you need, and nothing you don’t.

Let’s start with the bad.

The seats are a fake leather and cloth, and though they feel relatively comfortable, they offer no lumbar support. So if you go on longer journey’s you may want to look elsewhere.

Material quality feels poor. Everywhere is scratchy materials, which reflect road noise. And there is quite a lot of that when you are on the highway especially. You get some fake carbon fibre too, but it feels nasty to the touch.

It’s not all bad though. The steering wheel is mega-premium; it almost feels out of place. But we’re not complaining!

Technology is fantastic too, which younger buyers like myself will really appreciate. The touchscreen is very snappy, responsive and even has built in navigation with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The instrument cluster is mainly analogue with a tiny 4.2” display. It shows enough information on it, so I won’t complain.

Storage is ample too, you get two nooks up front for your phone, a USB port and 12v socket, huge doorbins and a big glovebox.

The interior packaging is smart, but it feels old Kia and cheap. Some won’t care, but over our week with it we found the interior to be a letdown.

What are the backseats like on the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

The backseats are really impressive, but it’s worth noting the Kia Rio was essentially the same story.

At 5’11”, I have plenty of legroom, headroom and toe-room which is very impressive. There is 1 USB port, but no air vents or rear arm rest which is a shame. Again, economy car – we can forgive it.

What is boot space like in the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

This is where we are very impressed with the Kia Stonic.

Although it has only 25L of boot space over the Kia Rio, it’s 352L of space in total is huge for such a small car.

You can also put down the split folding 60:40 rear seats, and get 1,155L of space.

It’s worth noting the Skoda Kamiq has more boot space for a similar price.

What’s under the bonnet of the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

The Kia Stonic GT-Line comes with the lesser of 2-evils in engine choice. Heavy choice of words, but it isn’t great.

Go with the base model ‘S’ or ‘Sport’ trims, and you get a 1.4L 4 cylinder that has been around for while. It’s a naturally aspirated petrol unit, putting out 74kw (at 6000 RPM) and 133nm of torque (at 4000 RPM).

If you don’t know much about engines, that’s fine – just know these are meagre outputs. As mentioned earlier, you can option a 6-speed torque converter automatic on both the ‘S’ and ‘Sport’ for $1,500.

Step up to the GT-Line and you are afforded a 1.0L 3 cylinder turbo-petrol unit, pushing out the same 74kw (at 4500 rpm) and 172nm of torque (at 1500 rpm). All of that power on all models are sent to the front wheel exclusivity, but the GT-Line scores a 7-speed automatic dry dual clutch.

So why is the 3 cylinder our choice? First of all, torque (i.e. pulling power) is available from essentially as soon as you put your foot down. It feels way quicker than the 1.4L, although that isn’t saying much.

More importantly, it gets much better fuel economy than the older 1.4L. In that you can expect a fuel economy of about 7.4L/100km in real world driving. The 1.0L is closer to 5.8L/100km as we found at the end of our week testing.

What is like driving the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

I almost don’t even want to write this section, because it isn’t favourable to the Stonic.

Look, it handles really well. Kia have worked their magic and tuned this thing to be great around a corner. It has minimal body roll, without the suspension being crashy.

Speaking of, around town, the suspension is great. It isn’t overly stiff, and takes bumps quite well and is a great car to cruise around the city streets.

It has a basic torsion beam setup in the rear, but who cares – it’s cheap. Cycle through the driving modes, and you can add some extra weight to the steering wheel and (strangely) have quite a bit of fun around the twisties and backroads as we did in our full review.

Try and give it some sauce though, and it almost feels like you don’t move. Okay, it’s not quite that bad. But we recorded our slowest ever 0-100km/h time for the Kia Stonic GT-Line of 14.5 seconds. To be fair, we had both Jacob and I as we gave it some sauce, but we do so in every car we test.

The engine itself is actually okay. Yes, it has no power, but it pulls relatively confidently and never seems to stutter.

To bad, the 7-speed dual clutch is… too bad. It’s a dry clutch – meaning the clutch packs aren’t submerged in oil – and that helps reduce powertrain loss. That is generally worse for longevity, though only time can tell on that one.

The issue is its calibration. It is extremely lurch-y when you are driving at lower speeds. If you need to reverse up a hill, good-luck – it will do it, but not before scaring you as it first rolls down the hill while it lazily engages the clutch.

The worst part though is when you combine it with it’s euro-emissions compliant start-stop system. When you come to a stop, the engine turns off. Usually, I don’t mind this feature – it’s good for the environment. But put your foot down, and we counted an ENTIRE SECOND before the car began to move. More than once we got beeped with cars behind us thinking we weren’t watching the road. We were, the car just wouldn’t go. Watch our full review to see this in action.

That aside, the drive is unremarkable. But it is probably one of the more disappointing drives – if not the worst – in the entire Kia range. Which is unusual, they make some of the best driving – pseudo luxury – budget friendly cars out there.

@Kia, please give it a V8 (just kidding, but I wouldn’t complain…)

What is the service cost and warranty like on the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

Servicing is every year, or every 10,000 kms for the Kia Stonic GT-Line.

1 Year (or 10,000km) - $283

2 Year (or 20,000km) - $484

3 Year (or 30,000km) - $338

4 Year (or 40,000km) - $719

5 Year (or 50,000km) - $319

6 Year (or 60,000km) - $602

7 Year (or 70,000km) - $569

What is safety like in the 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line?

We weren’t lying when we said this car was a jacked-up Kia Rio. Even the ANCAP safety rating from 2017 (stands for 2023) is for the Kia Rio but applies to the Kia Stonic.

And yes, it has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Nice.

The 2023 Kia Stonic GT-Line comes with a suite of safety features. Some of these features include 6 airbags (dual front, side, curtain), AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Forward collision warning, Lane departure warning, Lane Following Assist (centring), Lane-keep assist, Driver Attention Alert, and Lead Vehicle Departure Alert.

Shoutout to the active lane centering, this thing can steer itself on the highway (with your hands on the wheel!) and it works so well.

What are our final thoughts on the Kia Stonic GT-Line?

Look, it’s really hard to recommend the Kia Stonic. It has stiff competition, like the Skoda Karoq, Toyota Yaris Cross, Volkswagen T-Cross, Hyundai Venue, and the list just goes on.

Yes it represents good value for money, and the 7 year warranty is great for buyers who value reliability (and reliability when things go wrong).

But its engine and drivetrain would rule out a recommendation from us – at least for the GT-Line.

The 1.4L is similarly anaemic, and returns worse fuel economy, but in Manual ‘S’ guise in the low $20,000 range it represents superb value for money.

In this instance, less is more for the Kia Stonic.

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Matt Brand
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

74kW + 172Nm

$30,790 Before On-Roads

5.4L Claimed

5 Star ANCAP

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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