The upcoming new Kia Stonic compact SUV has been previewed today for the first time, but don't expect to see this one in Australia.
Speaking with CarAdvice today, local communications manager Kevin Hepworth reaffirmed that the compact Kia SUV destined for Australia is not the one we'll see unveiled in the weeks or months ahead.
This follows comments from April, when Hepworth confirmed the Stonic - which hadn't been fully identified at that time - was considered unsuitable for our market. That model won't appear until sometime around 2019.
What makes the Stonic unsuited to our market? Certainly not its styling, but rather the drivetrain. This new offering is expected to be offered only with tiny engines in the neighbourhood of a 1.0-litre capacity, and that's not what Kia wants for its push to tackle the popular Mazda CX-3.
“There is another vehicle being developed that is a proper CX-3 competitor, which is the 2019 car,” Hepworth said.
While the Stonic is likely to be little more than a jacked-up and uniquely styled version of the Rio (albeit with a largely identical interior design), Kia Australia's compact SUV is expected to share more in common with Hyundai's coming Kona.
While the Kona will make its first global appearance next week, a date for the Stonic's unveiling is still to be announced. Kia has confirmed its overseas launch will occur in the second half of 2017, however, suggesting a first proper look will not be far off.
First up, that name: If you'd thought it might be of Slavic origin, think again. According to Kia, it is a portmanteau of the words 'speedy' and 'tonic'. Kia says this is a reference to "the first and last note in the musical scale". Too bad the catchier 'Niro' name has already been taken by the company's comparatively dull hybrid SUV.
Full details are still to come, but Kia promises a relatively low centre of gravity, which should help to make the Stonic one of the more dynamic drivers in the class.
On the styling front, these sketches suggest the Stonic will deliver more of the same sporting lines that have brought Kia to the attention of buyers in recent years, taking cues from the Optima sedan, Stinger liftback and mid-sized Sportage SUV.
Sketches aside, CarAdvice published spy photos of the Stonic in March, offering a first - if obscured - look at the new compact offering.
Watch for more on the Stonic to come in the weeks ahead, and stay tuned for more on the model we'll eventually see in Australia.