KIA’S characterful compact crossover has a distinctive look and a punchy engine.

What you’re looking at here is a higher-riding small SUV – the type of body style that now attracts motorists who once drove nippy little hatchbacks.

The Stonic is based on a version of the Rio hatchback’s platform, but adds more rugged styling, more beefy wheels and extra ride height for a dash of SUV flavour.

The most recent update left the interior and exterior design largely unchanged, but there’s now a greater choice of body colours and wheel designs, including eye-catching two-tone options.

With no diesel option, the engine choice is quite straightforward, with two 1.0-litre petrol engines with a manual or automatic gearbox.

The Mail: The Kia Stonic on test in Yorkshire

The punchier of the two engines - tested here - benefits from mild-hybrid technology, improving performance, emissions and economy.

In this 1.0-litre T-GDi 48v version, the hybrid assistance in the lower revs is appreciated, making for responsive acceleration.

It conjures up 118bhp, being slightly quicker to 60mph than its conventionally-powered 99bhp counterpart, with a time of 10.4 seconds.

It feels like a right-sized powerplant, with the balance between performance and economy underlined by fuel consumption figures of more than 50mpg on the combined scale. All versions also feature Kia’s ISG engine stop/start system to save fuel .

The Stonic handles nicely, offering reasonably sharp turn-in and gripping well in the corners. Body roll and lean are well-contained.

In terms of looks, the Stonic has sharp, straight lines and smooth surfacing. The ‘tiger-nose’ main front grille, flanked by smart contemporary headlights, give the car’s face an appealing appearance.

The Mail: The Kia Stonic on test in Yorkshire

A black garnish running around the wheel arches and along the sills and the lower portion of the doors and tailgate emphasises the car’s SUV stance, complemented by silver skid plates front and rear.

Inside, you’re met with an interior that’s comfortable and well laid-out, with a large 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system at the centre of things.

Legroom and headroom is decent front and back, while the boot offers 352 litres of space.

The Stonic is offered in a four-model line-up based on ‘2’, ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’ and ‘GT-Line S’ trim levels. All versions offer extensive connectivity, including links to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via pre-downloaded smartphone apps, while advanced electronic driver assistance systems such as forward collision avoidance assist, lane departure warning and automatic headlight control.

There are plenty of creature comforts to be found, including heated seats and steering wheel as standard on ‘3’ and ‘GT-Line S’ models.

The Mail: The Kia Stonic on test in Yorkshire

Despite the crossover-inspired looks, no four-wheel drive option is offered, with Kia stating that the requirement now is for small cars with the looks and higher seating position of an SUV, but without the weight, cost, and fuel consumption penalties of all-wheel drive.

Priced at £24,770 on the road, the ‘GT-Line S’ version of the Stonic seemed good value.

The Lowdown 

Kia Stonic ‘GT-Line S’ 

ENGINE: 998CC 3-cylinder T-GDi 48v
PRICE: £24,770 on the road
0-60MPH (10.4 seconds
TOP SPEED:115mph
ECONOMY: 129g/km and 50.4mpg combined
MAX POWER (bhp/rpm): 118 @ 6,000
MAX TORQUE (Nm/rpm): 172 @ 1,500-4,000