If you had told me months ago that Kia would bring a rear-wheel-drive, 365-horsepower sports sedan with a fastback design to the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, I would have called you crazy.
I would have sincerely hoped you were right, too.
Fortunately for all of us, Kia shocked the media crowd here to cover America’s biggest auto show with the unveiling of their gorgeous Stinger on Sunday evening, a four-door true European-style sports sedan with high aspirations to take on the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti, and Lexus.
While the luxury car world gets more X’s, i’s, and various number combinations, the traditional economy brands are left to soldier on with creating enticing, real names, and thankfully Kia has delivered. ‘Stinger’ is an awesome name for a car. I’m surprised nobody has used it yet, but I’m glad they haven’t.
At a glance, the Stinger benefits from a sleek fastback design with a long hood and rear swept roof, tapering off into an almost Maserati-esque rear end. The front end is muscular and sculpted, with aggressive scoops on the lower fascia, some gorgeous swept-back LED headlights, and that now signature Kia grille.
Inside, the styling is very reminiscent of recent Mercedes-Benz sedans, with the triple vent design and tacked-on infotainment screen front and center, and the wraparound arch at the top of the dashboard is a lot like the one that Jaguar has been using. Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I’m pretty sure no Stinger buyers will be complaining that their car looks like a Mercedes inside.
However, it’s one thing to look like a Gran Turismo car; it’s another thing altogether to feel like one.
Fortunately, the Stinger seems to have the specs to back up its GT aspirations, with a 114.4 inch wheelbase – longer than the Audi A4, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, and even the midsizeLexus GS and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – and a rear drive platform, complete with suspension that boasts active damping. All-wheel-drive is also available on the Stinger, with dynamic torque vectoring and a mechanical limited slip differential in the rear.
The real exciting bit, however, comes in the powertrain department, with a base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft., and a mighty 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 making 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft., good for a 0-60 time of around 5 seconds and a top speed of 167 mph. Those are positively European numbers from a sports sedan hailing from Korea. We’re living in a brave new world, folks.
The only available transmission is an 8-speed automatic first seen on the K900, which may not be long for this world if its stylish younger brother has anything to say about it.
Kia also promises that the Stinger will pack its latest safety and convenience tech, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert, as well as an optional head-up display, a wireless smartphone charging pad, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, and an available 720-watt Harman/Kardon stereo system.
The Stinger’s biggest issue is its less-than-desirable badge, especially in the face of luxury marques like BMW, but if they keep churning out stylish and downright impressive cars like this, the Kia badge may be a hot ticket item sooner than we think.