Just the Stonic - little Kia SUV poised to ace growing market
Growing demand for groovy little SUVs has inspired Kia to add another pint-size high-rider to its repertoire.
Similarly sized to the Mazda CX-3, the Kia Stonic will arrive after November this year.
Pricing will likely start from just above $20,000. That sandwiches the new addition between Kia's biggest selling car, the Cerato, and the small Seltos SUV - which was launched in October last year.
Based on the same platform as the Rio, the Stonic is smaller in length than a CX-3 but 100mm longer than the Venue from sister company Hyundai. Most importantly, it has a much larger boot than the CX-3 to maintain family appeal.
"There is an emerging light SUV segment. We see an opportunity to take a slice," Kia product planner Roland Rivero said.
"There's a clear step up. You go Stonic, Seltos, Sportage, which will grow in the new generation, and Sorento will complete our SUV line-up."
First revealed four years ago, the Stonic was initially ruled out from coming Down Under because the only engine option was a 1.0-litre 88kW/171Nm three-cylinder turbo. Now there is also the option of a non-turbo 1.4-litre 73/133Nm four-cylinder, which is expected to be favoured for our market.
While shared the Rio's underpinnings, the Stonic is longer at 4140mm, sits 70mm taller and rides 42mm higher from the ground. Expect the likes of a colour touchscreen armed with smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to be standard.
Funky colour options are available on overseas models, with range-toppers offering contrasting roof hues.
Kia's recent introductions have possessed strong safety credentials and the Stonic should have autonomous emergency braking (to help avoid or lessen the chances of a frontal crash with cars or pedestrians), blind spot warning and lane keeping assistant as standard.
Post-Stonic arrival, the Kia SUV range will be four-strong. Yet Kia Australia's chief operating officer Damien Meredith believes there is room for growth.
"I think we need more. I think we need one or two bigger ones," he said.
The only top-10 manufacturer to improve year-on-year sales over the past challenging 12 months for the automotive sector, Kia's Australian operation shows no sign of slowing.
Both Meredith and Rivero believe there are opportunities beyond the seven-seat Sorento which will be relaunched as an all-new model in June. They also hinted at a ladder frame off-road capable four-wheel drive option, opening the greater outdoors to Kia buyers.
Sharing the same architecture as the Sorento will be a new Carnival people-mover which will arrive in Australia during the third quarter.
Adding fuel to the Kia fire will be product enhancements for the compact Rio and Picanto pairing, while the halo rear-wheel drive Stinger will also get an overhaul in 2020.