Kia’s first sports car …and no, it’s not the Stinger
The new Kia Stinger GT is somewhat of an anomaly in terms of what we came to expect from the brand over the two decades it has (officially) been represented in South Africa.
The powerful four-door coupe stands in stark contrast with the rest of the Kia model range and buyers’ perceptions of the marque. Solid and reliable? Yes. Well designed and engineered? Yes.
Sporty and fast? Not really. Exhilarating to drive? Not so much; although one needs to acknowledge the Ceed GT and its cee’d GT precursor powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDI engine now delivering 150kW, turning it into a more than lukewarm hatch. But it still is no sportscar.
The Stinger GT has been introduced here with a very specific purpose: to act as a halo model for Kia, and the Korean carmaker, celebrating its 20th anniversary in South Africa, is relying on the fastback gran turismo to attract new buyers to the brand.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the Stinger is not Kia’s first foray into the world of halo sports cars…
The Lotus connection
Roll back the time to 1995, a couple of years before the establishment of Kia Motors locally, when the English firm Lotus Cars collaborated with the mother company in South Korea to refine the suspension setup of Kia products.
At the time Lotus, owned by Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli (who also owned luxury car brand Bugatti), still produced the M100 Elan front-wheel drive two-seater convertible sports car.
Last year? Really?
The Stinger weighs in the region of 2.3 tons, so it's pretty heavy. A BMW 340i comes in at around 1.7 ton, so the Stinger is a whack heavier. The beemers should be more nimble around a track.
In car reviews, recounting how much “better” the Korean automakers are than they were in decades past has become painfully cliché.
It doesn’t need to be said that Hyundai and Kia make world-class cars these days and have for some time, except in one area: performance. This is what the 2018 Kia Stinger GT aims to change.
The Stinger is a sport sedan, from Kia, benchmarked against and aimed directly at the Germans for a lot cheaper. From... Kia.
The idea of a performance-focused, rear-wheel drive sedan with a 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, Brembo brakes and an adaptive suspension that does zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, a car that can be had for a good amount less than a BMW 340i—all while wearing a Kia badge—is audacious. Arrogant, even.
So what if it makes decent compacts and minivans; how dare Kia think it can do this?, a skeptic may wonder, and understandably so. This is a brand that once competed with Geo and Daihatsu, and now it wants to take on BMW?
But the Stinger GT pulls it off, and in spite of a few minor flaws, it manages to be both an obvious performance car bargain and one of the great car surprises of this decade.