Kia Stonic delayed until February
Kia Motors Australia has pushed back the launch of its all-important, all-new compact SUV, the Kia Stonic, by two months due to coronavirus-related shipping delays.
Set to be positioned below the Kia Seltos small SUV (priced from $25,990), the all-new light SUV was to be launched on December 8, but now won’t be released until February 2021 “to ensure we have received the volume of vehicles required to fulfil sales and media expectations”.
Kia Australia’s answer to the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Volkswagen T-Cross and Toyota Yaris Cross is a key part of the Korean brand’s plan to sell 80,000 vehicles annually, which could see it overtake Ford, Mitsubishi and perhaps even sister brand Hyundai to become Australia’s third most popular car-maker behind Toyota and Mazda.
As we’ve reported, the 2021 Kia Stonic is based on the same platform as the recently updated Kia Rio and also shares its powertrains and model line-up, including S and Sport variants powered by a 74kW/133Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and the choice of a manual on the base S variant.
Standard across the range will be autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and an 8.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
As recently as last month, when the GT-Line flagship was revealed with a more potent 74kW/172Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, Kia Australia still expected to launch the Stonic in December.
Asked in October if it would still arrive here before year’s end, Kia Australia’s product planning chief Roland Rivero said: “We’d like to think so, we’d hope so. But COVID is quite an unpredictable beast and what it could do is also delay Stonic by a month. We’d like to aim for the end of this year.
“Traditionally you’d say that launching a car in December is not ideal. But maybe in the COVID environment launching a car in December is a good idea?
“The target is still the tail end of 2020,” he said.
With a February 2021 release date now announced, it’s clear the Stonic won’t be launched at the Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis tournament, which is still going ahead with appropriate restrictions in place.
Kia Australia told carsales it would not use the event to launch the Soul and Niro EVs, as it had planned to do at the 2020 AO, but confirmed it will launch its first EV some time in 2021 – alongside its first electrified model, the Sorento PHEV.
The Kia Stonic’s isn’t the only new vehicle launch postponed this year due to COVID-19. Having recently launched updated Picanto and Rio models, Kia has now finally landed the upgraded Stinger and it’s all-new Carnival people-mover will arrive later than expected just prior to Christmas.
Other new models delayed by the pandemic include the new Hyundai Sonata, Santa Fe and Palisade, the facelifted Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and the Skoda Scala and Superb.
The coronavirus has also delayed the development of a number of key new utes, including the new Ford Ranger and its Volkswagen Amarok sister model, as well as the new Mitsubishi Triton, facelifted Nissan Navara and ASV’s new RAM 1500.