Kia, this month, entered Europe’s fastest-growing market sector, that for small (B-segment) SUVs, with Stonic, an exciting, sporty, confident and smart new model priced from £16,295.

Stonic is based on the latest Rio supermini and is powered by high-efficiency, high-technology petrol and diesel powertrains from Rio and the cee’d family.

In the UK there is a five-model line-up based on grade 2 and First Edition trim levels.

All versions offer an extensive package of connectivity features, including links to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via pre-downloaded smartphone apps, while advanced electronic driver assistance systems such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and automatic switching between high and low headlight beams are available.

Three modern and efficient engines are available, headed by Kia’s little jewel, the 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) unit delivering 118bhp. It lines up alongside a 1.4-litre multi-point injection (MPi) naturally aspirated 98bhp petrol engine and the 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel from the cee’d range.

The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine develops an impressive 171Nm of torque across a wide rev band starting at only 1,500rpm, ensuring effortless driveability which allows it to accelerate from standstill to 60mph in less than 10 seconds, yet it is also capable of up to 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions of 115g/km are not much more than those of a diesel.

The fuel economy champion of the Stonic range is the diesel, which has a combined economy figure of 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. Yet with 260Nm of torque stretching from 1,500 to 2,750rpm it is certainly not lacking in pace, delivering not only impressive in-gear acceleration but also distinctly brisk 10.9-second acceleration from 0 to 60mph.

Meanwhile the 1.4-litre petrol engine, available exclusively in the grade 2 model, has economy and emissions figures of 51.4mpg and 125g/km. Despite its relatively small cubic capacity it delivers admirable performance, with 133Nm of torque. The result is easy, fluid driving characteristics.

Stonic is slightly longer than Rio, at 4,140mm. It is also 70mm taller and rides 42mm higher from the ground to give it a clear SUV stance. While the two cars share some mechanical components, Stonic has a bespoke body and interior.

All models are front-wheel drive as the take-up for all-wheel drive in this sector of the market is only eight per cent.

The First Edition version stands out even more thanks to its two-tone paintwork.

The roof, wing mirror casings and rear spoiler are picked out in either black, lime green, red or orange, depending on the choice of main body colour, and there are colour accents in the interior on the seats and around the lower centre console and display screen areas.

All versions are generously equipped, with an extensive range of active safety features and up-to-the-minute connectivity in First Edition versions.

All models have 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows with an automatic function on the driver’s side, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.5-inch supervision cluster, Bluetooth with music streaming, automatic headlight control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. There are body-coloured bumpers, door mirror casings and door handles, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 60:40 split rear seats and a six-speaker audio system.

The First Edition adds a smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, black cloth and grey faux leather upholstery with colour accents, automatic air conditioning, LED rear lights, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, heated front seats and D-shaped steering wheel, chrome window trim and interior door handles and a dual-height luggage floor.

In common with all Kias, the Stonic has the best warranty in the business – a seven-year/100,000-mile declaration of faith in the reliability and quality of the car, covering all labour and parts except those subject to normal wear and tear. The warranty is transferable if the car is sold before the time/mileage limit expires.