Kia is to launch a compact crossover later this year, dubbed Stonic and providing a rival to the Nissan Juke.
The Stonic is Kia’s striking entry into an increasingly populous segment occupied by the long-established Nissan Juke, the more recent Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka.
Expected to cost from around £15,000-16,000 when it goes on sale in October, the Stonic majors on styling, electronic driver aids and has a wider choice of colours than you’ll find on other Kia models, including two-tone options and several bold interior choices. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen is standard, with options for TomTom navigation and a wide variety of features and apps.
Kia European marketing director Artur Mertens said: “This segment is the fastest growing in Europe. It was one million sales last year and will be two million by 2020. By 2020, 10% of all cars sold will be a B-SUV. Until now, Kia has had no strong presence here, and now we’re launching into a market that’s taking off. This is really important for us in Europe.”
Petrol engines include an 83bhp 1.25 with a five-speed gearbox, a 99bhp 1.4 and a 118bhp 1.0 litre turbo triple, these with six-speed manual transmissions. A seven-speed automatic will be offered on the 1.0 turbo later. The diesel option is a 109bhp 1.6, to be replaced by a substantially updated engine during 2018.
Kia’s European COO Michael Cole confirmed that the firm has no plans to launch an electric version of the Stonic, or any further SUV models – although he said the latter could change if there was customer demand. That approach contrasts with sister firm Hyundai, which is developing a Kona EV for a 2018 launch, along with two new models for its SUV range.
Cole said: “[The Stonic] will be a very strong volume seller for us, in our top three. We already have very good heritage of making crossovers and SUVs, and this follows the Sportage in launching into a very popular and fast-growing segment.”
The Stonic’s platform is essentially as for the Rio, which was renewed with the latest version of the supermini. Intriguingly, Hyundai’s new compact crossover, the Kona, uses an older platform. The Stonic rides 43mm higher than the Rio because the seats are mounted higher and it sits on 17in wheels. All the exterior panels are different apart from the front doors. Inside, buyers can have extensive sections of the interior finished in metallic orange, bronze, grey or green. There are nine exterior hues and five roof colours.
The Kia Stonic should make its public debut in late 2017 and go on sale in 2018. Entry-level models could cost from £16,000 while top-spec cars could set you back closer to £23,000.