A few weeks ago we showed you Kia's newest subcompact SUV. The Stonic was oddly named, but it wore Kia's new styling well and looked like a likely success for Kia. But then we got an email from Kia's Canadian communications team telling us that the Stonic wouldn't be coming to Canada. So why won't we be getting the newest subcompact SUV?
The Stonic is a B-segment SUV. That's the subcompact size class where the other tiny utility vehicles live. Vehicles like the 2017 Nissan Juke, 2017 Chevrolet Trax, and Honda HR-V. It's the class that holds Kia's hybrid-only Niro and the just-announced Hyundai Kona. It's a segment that has seen a lot of growth in Canada, nearly doubling in volume since 2014.
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The class loves the latest styling, especially if it's bold and unique. The Stonic's sharp lines and two-tone roof are definitely bold. Small vehicles, with their smaller price tags and lower fuel consumption, have always sold well in Canada.
So why is the Stonic a no? The answer from Kia Canada is short and sweet. "That car was actually specifically developed for the European market (versus a global car developed for all markets) so it was never under consideration for Canada."
In a market where cars are now sold in nearly every country, and the "forbidden fruit" from Europe that enthusiasts pined for is almost just a memory, that seems like an odd answer. It was assumed that the Stonic and Kona shared a platform, since they're targeted at the same segment and debuted close together. So why wouldn't we get both? The answer from Kia implies that maybe they are more different than expected.
The engines mentioned at the Stonic's debut were a 1.0L turbo triple, plus 1.25L and 1.4L four-cylinder gas engines. The Kona is slated for the 1.0L three, but also the turbocharged 1.6L four from Hyundai's lineup. Hyundai has also mentioned electrification for the Kona, while it has been absent from talk of the Stonic. So the two could well be built on different platforms, with only one being suitable to Canadian regulations and tastes.
Kia already has three subcompact vehicles here. There is the Soul, Niro, and mini-minivan Rondo. The Soul and Rondo are both showing their age, but the Rondo sells moderately well and the Soul had its best and second best sales figures in the last two years. Adding another might hurt sales of those vehicles by too much to justify the addition. A non-hybrid Niro might be an easier sell to Canadians.
Whatever their reasons, Kia has decided that Canada isn't getting the Stonic. The why may become clear when the full reveal happens later this year, but for now, it's a surprise to us.