It seems so obvious as to be unmistakable. You’ve been selling an unexpectedly successful Kia Soul for nearly a decade, turning it from what was thought to be a niche-market idea into one of your most popular products.
Do that again.
Hence, here cometh the Kia Stonic. It’s not bound for America, at least not yet, but the Stonic serves elsewhere as the Kia version of the Hyundai Kona. Only unlike the Kona, the Stonic is — like the Soul — a front-wheel-drive subcompact-based “utility vehicle.”
Cargo volume? Virtually identical, at 12.4 cubic feet for the Stonic and 12.5 cubic feet for the Soul. Pricing? In the United Kingdom, the Soul stretches from £14,310 to £23,565, starting slightly below the Stonic’s £16,295 entry point and rising above the Stonic’s top-spec £20,495 price.
This overlap in price, mission, and size is exactly what the doctor ordered, so we have a few vital recommendations for Kia’s rivals.
If you’re an aspiring B-segment crossover owner looking for Korean value and a fresh face, but aren’t exactly enamored with the 2018 Hyundai Kona‘s looks, you’re out of luck. For now, anyways. The Kia Stonic, revealed in Europe earlier this summer, is definitely not making the boat ride to America. Well, probably definitely.
The automaker says it has no current plans to offer the subcompact crossover — which is arguably better looking than the U.S.-bound Kona — to utility-crazed on this side of the ocean. It’s clear Kia isn’t so sure of the extent of Americans’ appetite for non-cavernous vehicles.
After Hyundai dropped the curtain on its B-segment Kona crossover last week, corporate cousin Kia wasn’t far behind, pulling the wraps off its own new subcompact crossover earlier today.
The Stonic, which will go on sale in Europe in the third quarter of this year, rides atop the same platform as the Kona, but arguably wears it better. Sporting a more cohesive design, a sharp, contemporary face, and headlights in all the right places, the Stonic aims to gra Kia a slice of the growing subcompact utility vehicle market. In Europe, the segment is expected to grow to more than 10 percent of all new sales in just a few years.
That’s money Kia wants to take home to Korea. It’s not just overtaxed European buyers on Kia’s hit list, either; automakers are hurriedly adding missing CUVs to their North American lineups to boost sales and market share.
Few automakers can afford to sit on the sidelines while rivals do battle in the growing subcompact crossover segment, and Kia sure isn’t one of them. Back in January, a trademark filing revealed Kia was developing a vehicle bearing an odd name — Stonic — which many rightly guessed would become the brand’s newest crossover. Well, that mystery vehicle is no longer a mystery.
The automaker has released concept sketches of its upcoming subcompact crossover, a high-beltline, low-roof runabout with wheels tailor-made for pelting stones off its sickly off-gold paint.
Korean automakers desperately need more sport utility vehicles. Frankly, they should have had them 36 months ago when demand for crossovers began to explode. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Kia Motors, has watched its sales dwindle after the post-recession buying boom cooled off and everyone started losing their appetite for small affordable cars. That poor financial performance has forced the Korean automotive group into austerity measures, reallocating funds for new vehicle projects aimed at getting customers back on its side — specifically with something riding an extra inch or two from the pavement.
During this week’s earnings report, Kia said it planned to launch a desperately needed sport utility vehicle for South Korea and Europe later this year. According to the company, the model would be a Rio-based subcompact “crossover utility vehicle.”
While overseas markets are top of mind for the automaker, they might not be the only ones receiving the mystery crossover.
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