New Kia Stonic: Maiden Sketches Preview For New Kia Crossover SUV

New Kia Rio-based B-Segment SUV will be called Kia Stonic and debut later this year, rivalling the hugely successful Nissan Juke crossover

The new Kia Stonic has been revealed in a series of bold design sketches, ahead of its debut towards the end of this year. It’s not only our first official look at the new SUV, but the first time Kia has confirmed the Stonic name for its Rio-based crossover.

Inspired by the larger Sportage and Sorento SUVs, the new Stonic gets a similar tiger-nose grille, sleek headlights and sharp shoulder line. The LED lighting signature is new, though the tail-light design looks more familiar, adapted from designs found elsewhere in Kia’s range. The protruding front spoiler, flared wheelarches and rear scuff plates give it a sportier and more urban-focused design, but the raised ride height and black roof bars mean there’s no mistaking this as Kia’s newest SUV.

There’s only so much we can take from the exaggerated drawings however. Despite the desire for the car to be different from the Rio supermini, Design boss Peter Shreyer is still expected to work within the brand’s existing styling framework for the new model, injecting some bulk into the supermini’s bumpers, boot and sills. “We have built up a design identity,” he told Auto Express. “[Stonic] will follow on from that”.

We’ve not been given a glimpse of the new interior yet, though we’re told the European-designed cabin echoes the exterior appearance with loads of straight lines and smooth surfaces. Technology will play a big part in the Stonic’s appeal, with a floating central screen and seamless smartphone connectivity.

Very little extra information has been communicated, but Kia claims the Stonic will “bring compact dimensions and a low centre of gravity to the class”, while also being “the most customisable Kia ever, inside and out.”

Kia Stonic: spy shots

We’d previously caught the Nissan Juke rival cold weather testing near the Arctic Circle. It’s a hugely important car for the brand, with bosses hoping it’ll mimic the larger Sportage’s success in the SUV marketplace. The spy shots showed a heavily masked model covered in camouflage, but key details – like the alloy wheels, windows and chunky C-pillar – gave us an important insight into how the new car could look.

The Korean brand first showed its intentions to release a new small crossover when it displayed the Niro concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show – although the name was subsequently used on the Korean company’s dedicated hybrid car. In 2016, John Kim, head of Kia's Western Europe Team also told Auto Express: “Kia is launching some new products next year [2017], such as a new Rio – with an SUV as well.”

Speaking about the Stonic, Kia’s European chief operating officer, Michael Cole, told Auto Express: “It is such an important segment. You look at what others are doing and how it can be a good brand builder car. Arguably the best brand building car we have had in the past five years is Sportage.
“So having a younger brother to that car in the B-segment would be a really good fit for Kia given that we have a bit of heritage for SUV products.”

Kia Stonic: engines

Unlike the established Sportage, the smaller SUV won’t be offered with four-wheel drive. In addition to the familiar petrol and diesel engines available at launch, Kia is expected offer plug-in hybrid power a little later in the product life-cycle. It’s highly likely engineers will attempt to mate existing hybrid tech from the Niro with a more efficient plug-in unit.

Bosses have already outlined plans for 22 ‘green’ models over the next five years. The new Niro and Optima PHEV join the Soul EV to make three, with 19 still to come.

Do you like the idea of a Kia Rio SUV? Let us know your thoughts on the Stonic in the comments section below...