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It can be, as Kia Philippines puts it, a name that combines the words “style” and “iconic”, or even “speed” and “tonic”. Whatever the wordplay, Stonic the crossover aims for more than just the looks and the Kia brand heritage.

Bathed in a cheerful Flash Yellow color, the Stonic makes a positive first impression; eye-catching to the point that it can stand out in showrooms, but still following the get-real philosophy of functionality and practicality. It’s that striking balance between aesthetics and application that globally renowned former Kia head designer Peter Schreyer wants the brand to be known for, and is evident in the Stonic.

The Stonic is in a marketing niche that promises the most growth in the longest terms, which is the youth market, helped, no doubt, by an introductory pricing scheme that’ll earn more than just curious test drives from its target buyers.

Kia Philippines has certainly done its brand and market homework, reading the motoring landscape as ripe for first-time buyers to get their first ownership taste of SUVs—specifically subcompacts and crossovers, the median pricing of such would fall somewhere in the neighborhood of P1 million. The Stonic places itself at the extremely low end of that range, at an introductory price of P675,000 for the entry-level variant (LX MT), P785,000 for the middle-range (LX AT) and P875,000 for the top-grade—a special pre-launch price that will be accorded to those who will reserve until the official launch on Oct. 15.

For those prices, Kia Philippines was targeting a specific market revealed by its president Manny Aligada during the Sept. 25 virtual media preview. He said that despite the eased quarantine restrictions, public transport (including taxis) has still been a challenge. “So we said, if we are going to come in and provide help, it should be a solution and not just something that’s nice to have. (The Stonic) is a must have.”

He continued: “One of the requirements of introducing the Stonic, given the economic situation, is that it is something that would be useful and accessible. So we said that requirement will be served if we come up with the vehicle that buyers hope and aspire to have. There has to be a positive feel to it, and yet really be a practical, accessible car. So when we came up with the feature, design, and pricing set, we said, this is a eureka moment. Let’s get it. There was a need.”

Despite being introduced late in the year, the Stonic will be in the garages of 300 new owners by yearend, predicts Aligada.

Josh Altarejos, product strategy and planning head for AC Motors (Kia Philippines’ parent company), said that the Stonic can cater to singles or newlyweds. He differentiates the target market from that of the Seltos, Kia’s subcompact SUV, which would attract more young families. The Stonic, which has been positioned between subcompact hatchbacks and SUVs/crossovers, could also be the second or third car in the garage playing the roles of the smaller or bigger sibling. Altarejos explained that each Kia model caters to a specific demographic. “We want to provide the best value for each particular segment, and in doing so help sustain and drive the economy once more.”

The Stonic is powered by a 1.4-liter dual CVVT engine mated with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, generating a maximum 95 PS (for the MT) or 100 PS (for the AT). Its safety features include rear parking sensor, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, electronic stability control and hill start assist (all exclusive for the EX variant). The 185-mm ground clearance is anticipated to boost confidence in driving through floodwaters. The Stonic has a smart entry and push start button, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system—compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The crossover exudes European flavor, manifested in the compact features, elegant design, sharp lines and smooth surfaces harmonizing with the signature Tiger Nose Grille. The projector headlamps and LED Daytime Running Lights are exclusive to the EX variant.

Despite being a subcompact, the Stonic’s dimensions allow for a multifunctional storage space with 60:40 full-fold flat rear seats. Even with the seats still in the upright position, it provides 325 liters of room for grocery runs or for baggage and other whatnots for that weekend trip. A two-tone color option is available on the top-of-the-line variant.

The Stonic, just like the other models in Kia Philippines’ product roster, will be offered with up to a five-year or 160,000-km warranty, as well as with free 24/7 roadside assistance for five years. Calling the Kia customer hotline gives access to roadside assistance such as emergency towing, personal and medical assistance, minor onsite repairs, and information services.

Jun Cajayon, sales director of Kia Philippines, explained that Kia started with a network of 30 dealers this year, and that four new dealerships were added and started operations by the third quarter. Four more dealerships in key locations will operate within the fourth quarter, bringing the dealership total to 38 by yearend.

He enumerated the new dealerships added this year: Prime areas such as Bonifacio Global City, Marikina, Fairview in Metro Manila, and in Isabela in northern Luzon. Four more dealerships are about to open in Cainta, Rizal, San Pablo, Laguna, Nueva Ecija and Bohol provinces. The good news, Cajayon announced, is that by the time the Stonic is available to the public on Oct. 15, 37 of these 38 dealerships would be operational. “We are on our way also to achieve our network plan to be 50 dealers strong by the end of 2021,” he concluded.

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