Kia has announced that it will have a new subcompact SUV out later this year and that it will be called the Stonic. The automaker released some teaser renderings for the vehicle, which could get a global unveiling at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
Hyundai and Kia have a combined goal to be the sales-leading Asian carmaker in Europe and subcompact SUVs are hot there now.
Kia says the name is a mash-up of "speedy" and "tonic" (in the musical sense, as in the first and last reference notes of a musical scale). It says that remix conjures up images of agility and freshness. It also is likely to result in multiple pronunciations as shoppers grapple with whether it's a long "o," autocorrect confusion and alternative conjecture about the origins (how about "stoned" and "stoic"?). Not to mention confusion with the Sonic, which is a Chevrolet.
In any case, the big-wheeled renderings show a small SUV with a sporty roofline, a stretched version of Kia's "tiger nose" grille and a strong horizontal character drawn from the headlights through the taillights. Kia mentions a "uniquely designed" roof rack, though it provided no details and the roof rack looks conventional in the drawings. Look for the whole thing to be substantially toned down for production, losing not only the giant wheels but also the huge exhaust tips, disappearing door handles and radically short roof pillars.
The interior continues the horizontal theme but with Kia's flair for interesting shapes and surfaces, as in the Forte and Sportage. It has a clean look that clusters the buttons and controls into a couple of tight, ergonomic pods. The dash layout bears a resemblance to the nicely redesigned 2018 Kia Rio subcompact.
Kia also said the Stonic "will be the most customizable Kia ever, inside and out," but it gave no details. The automaker was also mum on potential global powertrains, though it will likely share offerings in the U.S. with its platform sibling, the coming Hyundai Kona subcompact SUV that will be unveiled later in June. There also was no word on whether it will offer all-wheel drive, like most entries in the growing city-sized subcompact SUV field, or only front-wheel drive, like Toyota's new CH-R and Kia's Soul.
The Stonic and Kona will help balance their brands' car-heavy lineups, and they'll take on a competitive field of rival subcompact SUVs in the U.S. that's growing with the new 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport and Ford's belated EcoSport. Toyota has also showed recently the FT-4X concept, an all-wheel-drive subcompact that could develop into a companion for the CH-R.