What do you do when you’re known for producing practical but stylish cars for mass consumption? Most would say that you continue doing exactly that. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Don’t try to enter a different niche in the automotive world. Just fly casual.
Kia’s not subscribing to that philosophy, though, and at the NAIAS this year they made that abundantly clear. Shaking up the Detroit climate and putting other sport sedan manufacturers on notice was the Korean carmaker’s brand new rear-wheel-drive, 365-hp Stinger, the most important car Kia has introduced in years and one of the most important cars introduced this year in Detroit.
Penned by the Kia design team led by Peter Schreyer, formerly of VW and Audi, where he served as head of design, this newest offering by Kia should be enough to make the big boys at BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz stand up and take notice. Take the badges off of the Stinger, hide the corporate “tiger nose” grille and you’d be hard pressed to discern the difference between this and a proper Teutonic machine visually. Schreyer’s team has almost completely nailed the elegantly aggressive qualities so lovingly crowed about by enthusiasts of the big German three while still remaining faithful to Kia’s current design philosophies.
An aggressive stance, sleek body lines and a liftback snuggled into that big back glass make this car a true GT car capable of hauling you and yours in comfort to your favorite weekend retreat while looking good in the process, and that’s a big deal to a lot of people.
Hyundai-Kia stepped up the Stinger game even more though, by stealing the legendary Albert Biermann from BMW in 2014 and making him the head of their Vehicle Test and High Performance Development division. I’ll forgive you for not knowing who he is if you’re not a BMW nut, but you have to recognize that hiring the man responsible for the latest M3, M4 and M6 – and integral in a lot of other BMW development for three decades with BMW – was a very important key to making sure the Stinger is the right machine to launch Kia into the highly competitive sports sedan fray.
So why is this important to you? Why should you care? If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool, “I’ll never buy anything but a German car” type, then it’s great because every bit of competition thrown toward the heavy hitters in the business is good competition. Every step taken into their territory serves them notice that upstarts can, and will, try to take away – or at least crib off of – their prestige. This makes the big guys work harder instead of resting on their laurels, and that’s a good thing for everybody.
But if you’re an adventurous soul, willing to take a chance at saving a fairly hefty chunk of change while buying a car designed by two of the biggest names in modern German sport sedan engineering, then you may very well have found the answer to all your prayers, and that answer is spelled Stinger.