Kia has confirmed that its all-new compact SUV will be named the ‘Stonic’ and will launch overseas in the second half of this year, with the Korean carmaker also revealing sketches of the car’s bold, high-riding form.
Unfortunately, it’s not one that we’ll be seeing in local showrooms – for now, Kia’s Australian arm has deemed the Stonic’s engine range to have insufficient power for local tastes.
Instead, Stonic will be pitched as the brand’s entry-level SUV in Europe. Expected to be based on Rio underpinnings and mechanicals, the Stonic will make use of Euro-orientated engines like the existing 74kW 1.0-litre turbo triple fitted to European-market Rios.
The trio of teaser sketches released by Kia suggest its interior will be extremely close to that of the Rio – similar to how the Mazda CX-3’s cabin furnishings are largely borrowed from the Mazda 2 hatch.
Kia claims the Stonic – whose name is a mashup of the words ‘speedy’ and ‘tonic’ – will be the “most customisable Kia ever,” suggesting an accessory-heavy personalisation strategy will be employed, similar to what was offered for the boxy Soul hatchback when it was on sale. However, Stonic is not expected to be a replacement for that car.
In lieu of the Stonic, a different compact SUV solution is coming for Kia Australia but isn’t likely to appear for at least another 12 months. Kia’s local operation has been wanting a pint-sized SUV to square up against Honda’s HR-V, Mazda’s CX-3 and the Toyota C-HR for a while now, but even though sub-Sportage SUVs exist overseas – such as the Kia Niro and the soon-to-be Stonic – none have satisfied Kia’s local product planners so far.
Kia is keeping a tight lid on plans for its next compact SUV, but it’s highly likely to follow Hyundai’s upcoming Kona SUV – which is a sure-fire starter for Australia. Expect to see Kia’s take on the Kona surface toward the end of 2018.