Badly beaten MT tires that slide a little on scree-covered tracks, with the help of reduction gears, the ton-weight vehicles make the descents that we followed even on foot. Flowing water, sliding mud, swirling sand…
Forget it. Not for this. The Puma, Stonic and Crossland may be extreme, but they have as little to do with off-road vehicles as a smartphone has to a good old fashioned dialer. The name says it all: SUV, Sports Utility Vehicle. Cars with a sporty touch that bring a certain level of utility. But which one to take? We leave it up to you to click through the settings. We are happy to take on the pilot role. So, check the interior, measure the stopping distance, check the drives, determine the usage and calculate the cost. Let’s go now.
Comfort in Ford
If you choose the nearly 4.19-metre-long Ford, you sit less than 58 centimeters above the ground, on comfortable, non-protruding cushions with long but moderate leg curves. Looking at the configurable digital instrument cluster, most of the vehicle’s functions are controlled analogically via buttons or rotary controls that are spread over a large area in the cockpit and are not always fully in the field of view. Well, occasionally you’ll need to reach for the clearly arranged touch screen mounted high on the dashboard, because your fingers are usually faster than the slow intelligent language assistant. But turning the air conditioner up just two degrees, dimming the instrument panel or turning up the volume on the radio is much more difficult in the new world of the car.
Less space in the back, more in the trunk
You have enough space in the front, but you shouldn’t expect more in the back than can be expected from a small car. As soon as you get in, the roof extension and C-pillar get into the head and in the second row the kids are happier than the adults. Because it’s tight, the back seat is flat, you’re squatting more than sitting with your legs bent. A lot of space, on the other hand, remains in the luggage compartment, since Ford does not wall the space that was previously reserved for the spare wheel and subwoofers, but instead closes the plastic tube (81 liters) and the tube under the fold- on the floor of packing, which is ideal for keeping travel bags, indoor plants or boots full of mud. And Puma also has room for common items such as drink bottles, keys, wallets or sunglasses – in the form of compartments with rough plastic panels. There are also a few padded and foamed surfaces in the assembled interior. At least nothing is heard and cracked on country roads decorated with pieces of asphalt.
This is surprising, because the Puma is taut, it looks excessive, it is always on the move, the chassis just filters the bumps in the angular category. So the athlete? Not at all, because the steering wheel with a return time like a rubber band has no feeling. A mildly mixed, insulated and highly cultivated three-cylinder turbo with 125 hp is more suited to the Puma character. Especially when pushing down to increase power, it accelerates the 1,276 kg SUV to 100 km / h in less than ten seconds, turns off the combustion chamber under part load, recovers energy during pushing and stores it in a small battery for the next sprint. The bottom line is 6.5 liters of Super for 100 kilometers. If you could now intervene manually in the selection of the transmission gear of the double clutch, not everything will be good, but most will be better.
Kia frugal but difficult
If you choose Kia, you don’t have to worry about manual gear changes. However, the car with the Stonic, which is also powered via 48 volts, has another problem: it does not have a clear strategy when collecting energy through the belt starter generator when coasting, removing gears or turning off the 120 hp three-cylinder engine, which it blows as fast as it should. In any case, sailing downhill and recovering as you climb doesn’t always make sense. In addition, the power output of the four-valve engine, which consumes 6.4 liters per 100 kilometers, is sluggish and the engagement of the seven-speed clutch is inharmonious. This is very annoying in stop-and-go traffic, because the clutch pulls to the first gear for a long time, and the control of the gas pedal suffers. And if you lift your right foot because the brake lights come back on further ahead, the generator immediately engages, slowing the Stonic down unusually hard. The brakes can learn something from that, because there is no medal more than 37 meters from 100 km/h.
Driving as fun as possible
The Stonic, which has a well-read circular clock behind the steering wheel and smartly arranged and clearly labeled buttons and knobs, is even more fun when the road sometimes twists. Why? Because you sit one floor lower here, less SUV-like than Ford and Opel, and therefore you feel more connected to the road and you feel better connected to the car in the well-opposed seats. Well, the Kia isn’t a sedan either. But the strong adjustment of the spring is suitable for the car as a whole, and the front and rear axles are in good harmony with each other, and the steering wheel with a small angle and reliable feedback is convincing.
So the 1,239 kg Kia looks lighter, allowing something like driving fun to happen. You don’t have to sit behind the wheel to feel this, even in the second row with a sliding bench and several terraces. It’s surprising how much space the Stonic gets out of a small body for its passengers. It’s not the middle class yet, but among the smaller ones it’s one of the biggest – apart from the usual luggage compartment (352 to 1,155 liters) without a compartment under the loading floor.
If you choose Opel, you can order a two-step adjustable loading floor for 420 euros from the Elegance equipment level. That makes sense because in the top position there is no step between the loading sill and the ground. In addition, a sliding rear seat, whose backrests can be adjusted in direction, and a loading option is also installed. When it comes to flexibility, no one can beat the Crossland, but they can on many other criteria. However, there is little to complain about the clarity, because the rear window is steep and the side windows are large. Only the wide A-pillar restricts forward visibility diagonally. If you still want help, you can book a reversing camera and parking assistance for 150 euros.
In the first row you are crowned even higher than in the Puma, on seats that are a little more supportive and can be adjusted in many ways. From there you look at easy-to-read analog instruments with a digital display in the middle and for 300 euros there’s a disc head display on top. The touch screen integrated into the dashboard and therefore a more effective centimeter away from the driver’s seat is placed low in comparison, with directly labeled selector buttons and rotary volume control. Here, too, the climate panel sits on the ground, but the operation is generally not hidden and does not distract more than necessary.
Long standing distance
Sitting in the back is not very pleasant – once you climb the short flat bench through the narrow door opening. After all, Isofix anchors for child seats are readily available. In addition, the Crossland has very tight springs, especially with the rear axle, and as a passenger you are informed in more detail about the characteristics of the road. In general, the Opel rotates in an unusual way, separating the driver from what is happening on four wheels. Perhaps this is why the control systems are activated very early, reducing any movements in the bud, making the Crossland sluggish, almost useless – despite the powerful drive, which is connected to a six-speed manual box (available only automatically). Here, too, three-cylinder turbo drums, without hybrid, 130 hp. Usage? Usually 6.8 liters. In the end, however, there is drama because the 1,252 kg Crossland needs a 40-metre maneuver to stop from 100 km/h with cold brakes. The smaller MT tire probably wouldn’t need much travel, but it would be ready for real off-road adventures.
3. Opel Crossland
|Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid Titanium X||Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI 120 Spirit||Opel Crossland 1.2 DI Turbo Business Elegance|
|trunk volume||456 to 1216L||352 to 1155L||410 to 1255L|
|shift / engine||999 cm³ / 3 cylinders||998 cm³ / 3 cylinders||1199 cm³ / 3 cylinders|
|Performance||92 kW / 125 hp at 6000 rpm||88 kW / 120 hp at 6000 rpm||96 kW / 130 hp at 5500 rpm|
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