KIA HOPES to entice drivers out of their German cars with a new grand tourer that is intended to inject a healthy helping of glamour into the South Korean car maker’s stolid image.
The Kia Stinger is described as a “fastback” sports saloon, and its designer admits he took inspiration from luxury brands such as Maserati.
The four-door, coupé-style Stinger was unveiled at the Detroit motor show. It is not a concept car: British drivers will be able to buy the model this autumn. With a price of more than £40,000 it takes Kia into new territory.
Kia has been viewed by many drivers as the poor man’s Ford. But after two decades of hard work in the tyre tracks of European car makers, Kia believes it can credibly claim to be seen as the thinking man’s Audi.
With the flagship Stinger GT version, the company hopes it can win drivers from Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes. Beneath the sleek design, engineers have created a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive platform powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that develops 360bhp at 6000rpm, and 376 lb ft of torque at just 1300rpm. Kia says the motor can, via an eight-speed gearbox, power the GT from 0 to 62mph in 5.1 seconds.
A 2-litre 252bhp four-cylinder turbocharged Stinger will be available too, and Kia executives say an electric model could also go on sale.
With a long wheelbase and a body measuring 4,831mm, the Stinger is generously proportioned. Kia says the distance between the front and rear wheels is greater than in cars such as the BMW 4-series Gran Coupé and Mercedes CLS, which gives impressive cabin space and good driving characteristics.
Gregory Guillaume, chief designer at Kia Europe, said the original Maserati Ghibli was the inspiration for the Stinger’s attitude: “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. The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination — this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion.”
For the first time Kia is offering adjustable driving modes and electronic damping control for the suspension, as found in most high-end German cars.
The flagship model is also packed with the kind of in-car technology commonly found in its European rivals. A system monitors driver fatigue, and autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance are all available, with a head-up display.