Kia unveiled the stunning Stinger four-door coupe on Monday, and it’s truly unlike anything else we’ve seen from the Korean automaker.

Over the past few years, Kia has built a solid reputation by offering stylish, well-made cars and SUVs for the mass market. Now the brand wants to attack the premium market by taking on the likes of Audi and BMW.

Kia StingerKia Stinger. Kia

While Kia did introduce the K900 luxury sedan in 2014, it sold in very limited quantities and was not truly geared to compete in the premium market.

But Kia has learned a lot since then. And for the first time, the company has a product that should be of concern to Germany’s stalwart brands.

Here are the stats.

The standard 2018 Kia Stinger is powered by a 2.0-liter, 255-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the performance spec GT version gets a 365-horsepower, twin-turbo V6. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, putting power to the pavement through either the rear wheels or all four wheels.

Kia StingerKia

All-wheel-drive Stingers get Kia’s Dynamic Torque Vectoring system, while the rear-drive cars get a limited-slip differential. Stopping power comes courtesy of a set of vented Brembo brakes.

According to Kia, the V6 Stinger should be able to hit 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 167 mph.

“I think, for the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event,” Albert Biermann, Kia’s head of high-performance development, said in a statement. “Because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It’s a wholly different animal.”

(Remember that name — Albert Biermann — he’ll come up again later.)

As a four-door coupe, the Stinger is poised to compete directly with the new Audi A5/S5 Sportback as well as the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe. In addition, shoppers considering such industry heavyweights as the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes C-Class, the Audi A4, the Cadillac ATS, the Lexus IS, the Infiniti Q50, and the Jaguar XE may also consider the Stinger.

Kia StingerKia/Newsspress

The premium market is brutally competitive, and Kia certainly isn’t coming into this blind to that fact.

The company has spent the past decade or so stockpiling high-priced talent from around Europe — Germany in particular. This includes chief designer Peter Schreyer, the person behind the Stinger’s striking looks, whose résumé includes time as Audi and Volkswagen’s head of design. In addition, Luc Donckerwolke, the former design boss at Bentley and Lamborghini, was brought in to oversee design work at Hyundai-Kia’s Genesis premium brand.

The biggest hiring coup for Kia’s performance ambitions, however, was the arrival of Biermann. The BMW M-division vice president of engineering left Bavaria for South Korea in 2014. During his three decades at BMW, Biermann served as the architect for many of the company’s most respected performance cars. They include the BMW M3, the M4, and the M5 along with countless winning BMW Motorsports racers.

The German engineer was brought in make Kia’s cars drive like the automotive legends he so frequently created at BMW.

Biermann and his team put the Stinger through its paces at the company’s test track in South Korea as well as the notorious Nürburgring in Germany.

Kia StingerKia

In addition, the Stinger was designed at Kia’s European design center in Frankfurt, Germany.

So, the Stinger had a German designer, a German engineer, and was developed at the Nürburgring. It’s a Korean car with a heavy dose of Teutonic DNA.

Why not?

After all, the Stinger is designed to attack the Germans in a market segment they have dominated for decades.

Whether the 2018 Kia Stinger can beat the Germans at their own game remains to be seen. But at first glance at least, the Stinger is as well equipped for battle as anything we’ve ever seen from the Korean auto industry.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is expected to reach showrooms later this year. Official pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.

 

By Benjamin Zhang

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