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.