- Fastback sport sedan ‘redefines Kia brand’
- Promise of GT concept car ‘fulfilled’
- Stinger: Best-performing Kia in brand’s history
DETROIT, Michigan – Five seats. Fastback styling. Defined as a sport sedan… that’s the Stinger (oh Kia, thank you for a name and not a letter and numbers xxx) with which the Korean carmaker is “looking to shake up a segment dominated by European brands”.
The name (hey, it could have been Bee-Class!) is for what Kia says is the best performance production vehicle in its history and it will arrive in various markets through 2017 and be produced with a range of engine and drivetrain configurations “and luxurious accommodation”.
What else would you expect from a Bee-Class? Given the fluidity of currencies, Kia is holding back on possible prices.
However Orth Hedrick, vice-president for product planning with Kia Motors America, said at the US show: “The Stinger really is a dream car for us, a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world.
“No detail was too small to be obsessed over from its GT concept origins and through years of tuning and refining at the Nurburgring circuit.
“The result,” he added from the display podium “is simply stunning.”
The Corner dares you to take a look at the images and disagree…
CONCEPT DATES BACK SIX YEARS
As with all recent developments from the cars with tiger’s eyes, the Stinger’s design was nursed by Kia’s chief design officer, the now almost legendary Peter Schreyer, in Frankfurt, Germany. Ride and handling were looked after by Kia’s head of vehicle test and performance development Albert Biermann and his engineers in Korea.
But what makes a true gran turismo? This question was the foundation for a journey that began when the GT concept was first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show though the first feature I edited about a Stinger was the GT4 on Wheels24 in 2014.
“Although every Kia design study,” the automaker says, “has a purpose the GT concept was something considered by many outside the company as little more than a dream for a brand known for producing for mass-market sales.
“The GT ignited embers of passion that sparked a fire within the organisation and over the years that fire grew beyond fantasy to morph into reality.”
The Stinger as it appears in the images with the feature was given a green-light but it had to be bold, nimble, fast, luxurious and quiet. “It had,” Kan now says, “to achieve the perfect balance/handling and seat five comfortably with room for luggage.
“It had to be a lot of things but most of all it had to be an authentic gran turismo.”
Kia now asserts: “…and it is!”
‘IT’S ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY
Gregory Guillaume, Kia Motors Europe’s chief designer, told The Corner in a media release: “It’s a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving. It’s not about outright power or hard-edged dynamics or brutal styling at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace.
“The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey.”
The car is rear-wheel drive – something rare among modern Kias – and, its maker says, “exudes a muscular confidence”.
“Key to its road presence are the long bonnet and short front overhang, an extended wheelbase to deliver a spacious cabin, and a long rear overhang with strong shoulders.
“The Stinger’s stance and visual balance are designed to give the car an air of elegance and athleticism rather than boy-racer aggression.”
Other functional elements of the exterior design – front air curtains, wheel-arch gills, smooth underbody, integrated rear diffuser – are there for aerodynamic efficiency, as are the housings for the four oval exhaust tips.
And yes, Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille is still there, sniffing boldly from between complex LED headlights.
The cabin is described as having ultra-soft Nappa leather upholstery – beneath that of the driving seat are air bladders to bolster support and comfort.
The centre console (see two images) is split into two areas: infotainment with a large colour touchscreen and aircon controls. The driver’s section has a thick and leather-wrapped steering-wheel and on instrument binnacle with a combination of analogue and digital instruments with suitably sport red needles.
Satnav, it seems, is included, and Kia claims the long wheelbase allows generous front and rear legroom; low seat squabs give ample headroom, front and back.
Albert Biermann’s first look at the Stinger, he says, “signalled to me a car that had to live up to its stunning design from behind the wheel”.
“I think, for Kia, the Stinger is like a special event because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives.
“It’s a whole different animal.”
The Stinger is not a small car. Kia says its wheelbase is longe than an Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe and even the Lexus GS and Mercedes CLS.
It’s also longer overall (4.83m) and wider (1.87m) than others in its segment: human accommodation is described as “spacious” but the boot is still “larger than many in its class, with enough space for full-size luggage or golf bags, and has a powered lid.
The Macpherson front and multi-link rear suspensions have, Kia says, been tuned for accurate feedback to the driver and, for the first time in a Kia, can be adjusted for ride comfort or more sporty driving. Steering boost has five settings.
Again rare on a Kia, the engines will be mounted lengthways and well back under the bonnet. Two are “still under final development”: the standard four-cylinder, two-litre, turbo is aiming for 190kW at 6200rpm and 352Nm from from 1400-4000rpm,
a 3.3-litre twin-tubro V6 for 272kW at 6000rpm and 510Nm from 1300-4500rpm for 5.1sec to 100km/h and top speed close to 270km/h.
Both will drive through an eight-speed auto gearbox with manual changes made from steering-wheel paddles and a choice of five driving modes.
All-wheel drive is an option which will monitor and automatically adjust power and braking force to the appropriate wheel(s) to maintain direction in bad weather. Rear-wheel units will have a mechanical limited-slip differential to distribute power to the driven wheels.
…AND ALL THE THINGS EXTRA ON OTHER CARS
Two-litre units will have as standard 225/45R-18 rims/tyres, the 3.3 high-performance 225/40R-19 front and 255/35R-19 rear. Vented Brembo disc brakes are standard on the 3.3-litre quad-piston front and dual-piston rear calipers.
A full range of driving assistance, hazard warnings, road-following cameras and auto braking equipment will be available along with a large-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth and phone connection and cruise-control. Three high-end audio installations are also in the catalogue.
Now, Kia SA, just get the darn things here…