Kia Motors came up with the Stonic subcompact SUV to absorb growing demand for recreational vehicles amid a global economic recovery and low oil prices.
The B-segment SUV market has grown more than five times in the past five years since 2013 to 110,000 units in South Korea, the carmaker said.
|Kia Motors` Stonic subcompact SUV (Yonhap)|
In the domestic market where the Stonic will mainly compete with SsangYong Motor Co.'s Tivoli crossover, Renault Samsung Motors' QM3 and GM Korea's Trax, Kia aims to sell an average 1,500 Stonics a month for the remainder of this year.
"We expect to achieve the monthly sales target as customers in their 20s and 30s show a strong interest in the Stonic's design, fuel economy and advanced safety features," Kia's Domestic Marketing Director Seo Bo-won said in a press conference held before a media test drive event in western Seoul.
Nearly six out of 10 customers who have purchased the Stonic were aged between 20 and 30, he said, pointing out the affordable prices as another selling point.
The Stonic comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 1.6-liter diesel engine that produces 110 horsepower. It has a fuel economy rated at 17 kmpl and is equipped with six air bags.
It is priced at 19-23 million won ($16,700-$22,600) depending on options.
The new SUV also has advanced safety features, such as a rear-side collision avoidance system and high beam assist, which are rare to find in B-segment SUVs.
The company plans to introduce the Stonic, powered by gasoline and diesel, in Europe in the third quarter. The timeframe for the launch in the US market has not been decided yet.
Kia's current SUV lineup is composed of the Mohave, Sorento, Sportage and Niro. The Niro is a hybrid crossover that is tuned to attract eco-conscious drivers.
The carmaker also produces the popular K5, sold as the Optima in the US, along with the K3, K7 and K9 sedans, and the Soul box car.
In June, Hyundai Motor, which owns a 34 percent stake in Kia, unveiled its own very first subcompact SUV, the Kona, to bolster its SUV lineup. The two together form the world's fifth-largest carmaker by sales. (Yonhap)