A style that changed by heart

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    The Kia Sonic posed with the iconic San Pablo Central School pedestrian overpass--one of the oldest in Laguna. (Photo by author)

    SADLY, I was not on the list of the drivers for the Kia Stonic media test drive.

    it is either that Kia didn’t need duplications from same media outlets, or they might have needed older men for this drive. I say that with a lot of love personally knowing that Tito George and Tito Louie Ramirez were on the list. I will set Botchi Santos in the “Kuya” list for this one, him being the most adept of the bunch I guess. We were together in Tokyo in 2007 and I got to see him work his magic then.

    With that sad face emoji set aside, I did have a full 11 hours with the Stonic from the time it was delivered to the time my dad left at 4:30 am to get to Manila at the 7:15 call time.

    “Too early,” I said referring to his ETD when Waze said he’d arrive at 6:35 am.

    “I want to be early,” my dad replied, always wary about Manila traffic and the things that could go wrong. Traffic anxiety is a disorder of the Baby Boomers. We Gen-Xers, and Ys are anxious about other things, like poor WiFi signals and disruptions in the connections.

    So, I took stock of the Stonic an hour after it was parked in our plant-filled garage. The urban forest was intensified by the pandemic, my parents, being who they are, just continued to plant and plant until almost every section of the house had leaves and roots.  My dad left the window of the Stonic open wafted with smells of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, dill, and whatever other herb came with that song.

    I settled into the Stonic and immediately realized, I made a mistake. That my dad was right all along. Patience, that virtue said to be absent in Gen X’ers and millennials, became all too real. Sporty, could have been replaced by stylish if only I waited. But that is a politically incorrect story, which my dad already told Kia President, Tito Manny Aligada.

    Though I enjoyed Luckily, the Stonic’s single-zone automatic climate control system on this, the top-of-the-line EX that we were testing had an excellent filtration and extraction system, so after less than 5 minutes, the smells, delicious as they were, vanished. The infotainment system and simple knob controls of the air conditioning system are the first attractions inside the car.

    Urban driving lifestyle

    Kia calls it “urban driving lifestyle,” and out here, in the pastures and lakes that surround me, I will evaluate these five “eses” and see if it will fit my own lifestyle.

    But what is this urban driving lifestyle. Does it mean I need to abandon living in the province and going back to the city? I have a place in Parañaque that I decided to give up on primarily because of vehicular congestion, lack of spaces open enough for trees and greenery, and a general crowdedness that strangles privacy and breaks health protocols.

    Urban driving lifestyle, as I was to find out driving the Stonic meant, keeping safe in the vehicle, being able to get to places comfortably and economically, and having a sense of style doing it. So wherever I went, that lifestyle was carried. In the past I made a choice between a Kia Picanto and two other vehicles. I made a choice because of acquisition costs, not running costs. Now the urban driving lifestyle is changing my mind.

    As I intended to move back home and occupy my grandmother’s house in our compound, I was always in the rush for buying things—the furniture, and appliances I needed. So, I decided to test the Kia Stonic’s, “5S” an acronym they borrowed from the Japanese methods of organizing, now made popular by Maria Kondo.

    The Kia Stonic at the iconic San Pablo Cathedral, not the oldest in Laguna but the first catherdral that once emulated the Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    S S S S S

    Kia created the 5s to represent the urban driving lifestyle vibe.

    First “S” is for style. Kia is pushing “#Style That’s Iconic” a hashtag borne of the car’s name itself, which is a portmanteau of the two words. Kia has all these names for the various bits outside the car–Tiger Nose grille, Fin type (it’s a dorsal fin) antenna. Then there are the roof rails, LED daytime running lamps for the EX, rear combination lamps, rear spoiler garnish, and projector headlamps. Will these be enough for people to pay attention to the car?

    Parked between a Geely Coolray and a Foton Traveller van at S&R Lipa sort of gave this some context. The people who alighted the van noticed the shiny blue color, and kept commenting about the taller stance (185mm ground clearance on 16-inch alloy wheels) and the beautiful shape. But yeah, there was definitely some badge discrimination going on here.

    The second “S” is for space. And this comes from the Stonic’s 2,570-millimeter wheelbase, provided the length to give a fuller cabin. The wheels so widely spaced between each other, the space allowed for better legroom and made more options seating positions. This is relative to its size. This space also allowed for more cargo space—about 325 liters, says Kia, “to make sure you can transport everything you need for work and play,” they said. For me it meant month’s supply of my family’s groceries—four full boxes—and my own, another 2 boxes laid firmly on the space created by folding the rear seats. So thumbs up here too.

    Third “S” is shift, which means drivetrain. This particular prowess, the 6-speed automatic transmission powered by the robust 1.4-liter dual CVVT gasoline-fed engine was tested on the slopes of Mt. Makiling as I took the lengthier Makiling-Banahaw Road around to Bay, Laguna to pick up, germinating tree seedlings. How did that go?

    There is 100 PS and 132 Nm torque running through that crankshaft making it very responsive, but not overly excited. That meant the revs were managed well, and even with the transmission on manual mode, the fuel econometer indicated 8 kilometers per liter coming back from the uphill route, while the overall (mostly highway trip) returned 10.9 kilometers per liter. No sacrifices for acceleration either, 0 to 100 is an easy 15 seconds (no drag racing fly offs), thus overtaking is rapid and unhesitant when in the right gear on manual mode. On full automatic it is still unapologetic, the roar of the engine tells one it is doing its work.

    The fourth “S” is for sound. That is not a millennial word though. I’d can hear in my head my dad and Tito George (Ramirez) talking “dude ano bang sounds mo diyan?” Ah the singularity. I stand corrected. Sound is a millennial term, while sounds is the Tito word.

    The Stonic is fitted with an 8-inch touchscreen audio system seamlessly connected to my Samsung, as well as my iPad. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standards in almost any car audio system, so the real measure of worth is the sound pressure. And the six speakers delivered that pleasure, along with the ability watch movies. The usual demands for power are met with a USB port, and a 12V socket.

    The last “S” is service, something that I could not test. But I will depend on the numbers for this one: a customer-centric five-year or 160,000-km warranty, as well as with a 24/7 Roadside Assistance that comes with absolutely no charge for five years which covers emergency towing, personal assistance, minor onsite repair, medical assistance and information service for a secured, enjoyable and worry-free ownership.

    I have very few regrets in life. But after the Stonic drive, I am now seriously thinking of moving from sporty to iconic.

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