It was back in January 2014, almost exactly to this date, when Kia Motors launched its GT4 Stinger concept to the world at the Detroit Motor Show. Not only did it have a cool name, but its styling was striking and it gave us a preview of the direction Kia was headed. Now in 2017, Kia has again used the Detroit Motor Show as a platform to show off its new product. The best part? The Stinger name has been retained. However, in production guise, the Stinger has gained more doors and evolved from a show-stopping coupe into a five-passenger fastback sports sedan. Kia has drawn its sword and is making it abundantly clear that the Stinger opens a new chapter for the brand.
"Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and here today 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."
The Kia Stinger has been teased online numerous times and the claims have tickled the fancy of performance aficionados. Of course, the allure of rear-wheel drive, a powerful engine and Nurburgring-tuned handling is strong. Designed in Germany at Kia's Frankfurt studio, the Stinger is claimed to be a "true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace," notes Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe.
The vehicle will be going on sale in the United States late in 2017 and will come with a choice of two engines. Kia claims the engines are not complete and will still require some development, but the outputs indicate some serious intent. There'll be a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with around 190 kW, but the engine of interest is the new 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 with approximately 272 kW. Kia says the more powerful of the two Stingers will hit 100 kph in 5.1 seconds. Power reaches the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. There'll be five different gearbox modes and owners also have the choice of using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.
Another interesting point is that the Kia Stinger will also be made available with an all-wheel drive system with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control. It'll make the Stinger quite the performer in the wet and it's rear-wheel drive biased in an effort to keep with the driving feel theme. Stopping power comes courtesy of vented Brembo disks with quad-piston front callipers.
A choice of two powerful engines, attractive styling and rear-wheel drive has the petrolheads excited, which is exactly what Kia wanted with its Stinger.
While the Stinger is a potent performer, Kia has made it clear that it'll still be practical and sensible. The wheelbase of the vehicle is longer than that of the Audi A4, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz CLS. It's overall length and width are also larger than its rivals, while the boot space is claimed to be one of the biggest in the segment.
There's been a focus on reducing the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and keeping the cabin quiet. Kia has debuted its adjustable suspension and damping system called Dynamic Stability Damping Control in the Stinger. This means the vehicle can be "tuned to respond with more agility through corners as the system softens the front shocks and firms up the rear. Conversely, improved high-speed stability is achieved when the system stiffens the front shocks and softens the rear".
The Kia Stinger boasts a fair amount of safety features. There's a new Driver Attention Alert system which attempts to combat fatigued drivers, Forward Collision Assistance with automatic braking will detect other cars and pedestrians and will help bring the vehicle to a stop. Radar-guided cruise control, Lane Keep Assist and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert are also fitted.
In terms of comfort and connectivity, the Kia Stinger comes with a head-up display, smartphone induction charging pad, Bluetooth hands-free operation and a choice of high-performance audio systems. More details on its specification will be announced as the vehicle is launched internationally.
Kia says its Stinger will go on sale in the United States as a 2018 model year product. At this stage, the official word from Kia South Africa is "No information is available at the time of going to press on whether the KIA Stinger will be introduced in South Africa." Given the suffering endured by importers due to the exchange rate, it's going to be a challenge for Kia to build a business case for this flagship offering. Still, if marketing hype and prototype test drives are to be believed, the Kia Stinger is the real deal and definitely a new player in the performance segment.