At the 2017 Detroit Motor Show, Kia has unveiled what’s very possibly their most exciting car yet, the Stinger. It’s a car they’ve been teasing ad infinitum ever since the first rumbling emerged that Kia was developing a high performance four-door coupe.
As previously alluded to, the Stinger, which will be reaching showrooms as a 2018 model with a confirmed arrival to Australia by the end of the third quarter of this year, the car takes many visual cues from the GT concept from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
“Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and here in Detroit, that dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “From its GT concept-car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nurburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning.”
It also grabs its name from 2014’s Stinger GT4 concept, a two door coupe that was shown at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show. As a near production car here in 2017, the Stinger is the car with which Kia hopes to establish itself as a genuine player in the high performance arena.
It follows the classic low slung four-door coupe tropes with a longish wheelbase, swooping roofline, a front-mounted engine pushed as far back as possible, and rear-wheel drive. The most powerful GT tier was shown in Detroit - a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 272kW and 510Nm, confirmed to be the most powerful, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Depending on market, Kia will be offering the Stinger in either rear- or all-wheel drive. For the latter, it’s a rear-biased system that also features torque vectoring by braking the inside wheels to help the car during corners to or help align it during tricky conditions.
In GT all-wheel drive guise, the Stinger can accelerate to 100km/h from rest in 5.1 seconds, which puts in the same category as cars like the Audi S5 Sportback and the BMW 440i xDrive Gran Coupe, but is ultimately slower than their respective 4.5 and 4.7-second century sprint.
Later on, Kia plans to introduce more versions of the Stinger but powered instead by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as well as a turbodiesel four-pot. Naturally, these won’t be as rapid nor as expensive as the V6-powered GT. The smaller petrol engine will output 190kW and 353Nm, but no word yet on that diesel.
It’s also larger than those two European cars, with a wheelbase that comes close to a 5 Series. That’s because, underneath that pretty body, the Stinger shares underpinnings from the Hyundai-developed Genesis (now officially known as the Genesis G80), a mid-size luxury saloon.
To refine its handling chops, Kia spent a lot of time testing it on the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, with particular attention paid to calibrating its adaptive suspension (Dynamic Stability Damping Control) with the five preset drive modes that range from Eco to Comfort to Sport.
The Stinger’s interior looks clean and classy, even luxurious, if not particularly sporty. That said, the cabin looks to be angled toward the driver with much of the switchgear and surfaces at near-elbow height and a pair of seriously bolstered bucket seats up front. There’s also lashings of brushed aluminium and a floating 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
As impressive as the Stinger looks now as well as how nice it is that more automakers are entering the performance space, beating BMW and Audi at a game they’ve long mastered will be a very tough undertaking. Still, Kia looks poised to give it their best shot.