Frankfurt Motor Show - Strange that Kia, a brand known for its small cars, hasn’t been playing in the super popular sub-compact SUV category. But it is now, with the Stonic crossover - a new B-segment sized hatchback on stilts that’s on display at this week’s Frankfurt show.
It’s based on a regular Rio platform, but re-styled with all the obligatory skidplates, wheel arch trims and roof rails found in the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-3 leagues. Like the Rio, the Stonic is front-wheel drive only, but a raised ride height and elevated seating position should go down well with buyers in the growing pavement-hopper category.
Customisation is key here, and with nine body and five roof colours there are 20 different two-tone paint jobs possible. Interior colour is black on black as standard, but buyers can pick from four optional colour packs - each unlocking unique combinations of contrast upholstery stitching and various other coloured cabin highlights. A range of wheel designs in either 15 or 17 inch sizes is also possible.
An 18cm touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included as standard, but navigation is an optional extra. Other niceties include a heated steering wheel and seats, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dipping headlights and a rear-view camera.
Because the Stonic’s petrol tank is positioned underneath the back seat, the boot gets a two-tier floor system with a maximum 352 litre capacity - which expands to 1155 litres with the rear seats folded. The front centre console was designed to hold large smartphones such as the iPhone7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note, while the cubby hole is big enough to stow tablet devices. There’s even more storage in the driver’s sliding armrest.
When it goes on sale in Europe later in 2017, the Stonic will come with a choice of four engines, all paired with manual transmissions. Base models will employ Kia’s well-known 1.2 and 1.4-litre naturally aspirated MPI units with 62 and 74kW respectively, while a range-topper will get the brand’s new one-litre turbo T-GDI three cylinder with 88kW and 172Nm. There’s also a 1.6-litre turbodiesel option with 81kW and 260Nm. A less powerful one-litre with 74kW and a re-developed dual-clutch autobox are expected to come in sometime in 2018.
A full complement of safety gear includes up to six airbags (depending on market), forward collision avoidance with pedestrian recognition, lane keep assist, and blind spot, rear cross-traffic, lane departure and driver attention warning systems.
Kia says extra effort has been made to make the Stonic a sporty handler, and besides body roll minimising suspension setups, there’s also torque vectoring, cornering brake control and a straight line stability system to keep the crossover tracking true under heavy braking. Hill start assist is also included.
Kia South Africa says the Stonic is unconfirmed for our market, but is under consideration for local release in 2018.