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KIA’S FEISTY STINGER GT CONQUERS THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST TRACK

By: Jim Resnick August 7, 2017
Source: Wired

 

 

Copyright Kia Motors

 

OF ALL THE intimidating high-speed sections of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the most unsettling may be the Fuchsröhe—the foxhole. I come into this stretch of the famed German track at 93 mph, cornering at maximum grip and body lean, compressing the suspension as I go right-left-right and steeply uphill, making a conscious effort to lift my head to keep my eyes at horizon level. The sports sedan taking me through it all gracefully handles each twist of the wheel, each jab at the brake and accelerator, acting as though the Nürburgring is home territory. But this car is no native. It’s the twin-turbo, 365-horsepower 2018 Kia Stinger GT, Korea’s bid to challenge the Germans and everyone else for sports car dominance.

Now, I’ve driven the Stinger a grand total of 38.7 miles. Enough for a full report on its every detail? No. But every foot was driven on the Nürburgring, the 154-turn torture chamber that petrol heads consider the ultimate proving ground, and the place where automakers go to prove their latest sports car is the sports car to have. So don’t ask me how the Stinger GT is on the open road, or about trifles like its stereo system. But ask me about its behavior at shriek-inducing handling limits while bounding around this circuit’s blind corners, over hills and down dales, riding the world’s most difficult blacktop dragon, and I can tell you: This Kia copes with all the looniness, and even does it with some elegance.

This performance from the Stinger, the unexpected grand touring car Kia made to rival sporty sedans from the likes of Mercedes and BMW, is all the more impressive when you learn it weighs nearly 4,000 pounds and is longer than the 3-Series, both handicaps in the “driving machine” stakes.

Standard operating procedure for driving any car on a track as gnarly as the Nürburgring—also known as the Green Hell—is to follow a test engineer or pro driver around the track for a casual lap or two, slowly getting a feel for everything. Kia doesn’t bother with such niceties, instead sending me bombing around what many consider the world’s toughest circuit without hesitation.

The Stinger is an unusual sort of Korean car, conceived and tasked by key players of decidedly European upbringing and lineage. The Kia brand may be known for value above performance, but it’s still young, just more than 20 years old in the US market. It’s hankering to expand, making a recent bid for luxury buyers with the K900 and now, with the GT, taking aim at the sports car segment, a crowded space long dominated by seasoned giants like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes.

That confidence reveals a commitment to competing and maybe even winning, especially from people like Albert Biermann, who left his job running BMW’s M division to plant seeds at Kia that might flourish long after he’s gone—and that are already sprouting nicely.

Looking the Part

The Stinger GT is the latest in a string of lookers from Kia. Designer Gregory Guillaume says he took inspiration from the generously funded grand GTs he marveled at as a boy in the South of France, especially the Maserati Ghibli coupe. It’s a loose connection, but the Stinger comes with a distinct European flavor, and it’s no accident. Through my eyes, I see Alfa Romeo at the Stinger’s rear and perhaps even a glint of Maserati GT Coupe from the mid 2000s up front.

Styling aside, the car’s overall form factor is quite conventional in this modern era. The front seats are very low in the cockpit, keeping the center of gravity low, a boon for stability. That extra length may not be great for performance, providing a long, if not deep, cargo floor, plus enough space for normal-length legs in the rear seats. (Toes need to write a terse letter, though; mine couldn’t fit under the front seats at all.)

Being the Part

To build the Stinger, Kia fit its own suspension onto the bones of its corporate brother Hyundai’s excellent Genesis platform, along with adjustable shocks to cater to more aggressive drivers. The Stinger will offer three engine options: a base 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder; the optional 365-horsepower, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 we tested; and, for Korean and European markets only, a 197-horsepower, 2.2-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder.

Kia claims the V6 engines will send the Stinger to 60 mph in just under five seconds and up to a top speed of 167 mph, and we extracted almost every bit of that at the Nürburgring. The track’s longest straight section had us at between 135 and 140 mph, partly because our lead driver wanted it that way (passing ist verboten) and partly because we wanted to assure ourselves we’d have working brakes when we needed them and not lose them due to overheating. (As proven by the many disaster videos on YouTube, the Nürburgring can be a vindictive amphetamine.)

But the nutrition within the Ring’s bratwurst sandwich is not the long straight where your right foot digs into the synthetic carpet fibers. It’s the corners, in the communication of the steering, in braking effectiveness and how the car accelerates and grips off of corners. And when dishing out these morsels, the rear-drive Stinger GT provides some spicy flavor, while the all-wheel-drive version shaves off some spice due to extra weight and the more elaborate power-delivery system working overtime to generate traction, creating a midsize helping of brake fade. The brakes continued to work hard, though, even at the far end of pedal travel.

The only transmission offered is Hyundai’s own eight-speed automatic which also shifts manually, though it doesn’t match the best dual-clutch units or ZF’s eight-speed automatic gaining favor in European cars like Audi’s S4 sedan. Paddle-operated shifts in the Stinger GT deliver, but not with the crispness of others in the field.

The Stinger’s structural stiffness is undeniable, and not once did it shudder over the many bumps and curbs we visited from time to time. According to Biermann, it offers the same stiffness as the best competition like BMW’s 3- and 4-Series and the Mercedes C-Class, yet in a larger footprint. Here is where Kia shines, providing truly stellar rigidity in the most strenuous circumstances.

The sporty automotive circus is stuffed to its tent tops with self-congratulatory language and attitude, much of it well-deserved. So for Kia—a value-driven brand that has played in the US for a mere 23 years—elbowing its way inside to challenge giants like BMW, Audi, and others is a bold move.

Even if the Stinger GT is an utter failure when it comes to sales—and it shouldn’t be—Kia merits props for boldness. Hitting the US market in October at about $30,000 to start (with the top end around $50,000), this latest Kia will assuredly ruffle a few luxury feathers, or at least shake some leaves in the Green Hell.

Blazing the Nürburgring in Kia’s 365-horsepower sport sedan

By: Jon Wong June 23, 2017
Source: CNET RoadShow

Germany’s Nürburgring is among the most challenging and dangerous race tracks in the world. If you don’t believe me, just search the internet for a crash compilation video. The historic circuit spans 13 miles, encompasses 73 corners, is relatively narrow, features a lot of elevation change and I have never previously been on it. For my first laps ever around the Nordschleife, I’m in a 2018 Kia Stinger GT.

Yes, a Kia, which not long ago would have been downright comical, but today is no laughing matter thanks to Albert Biermann. Before Biermann joined Kia at the end of 2014, he spent 32 years at BMW, where he last oversaw the development of the company’s M vehicles. At Kia, Biermann heads vehicle testing and high-performance development with the Stinger being among the first vehicles to fully benefit from his oversight.

Sliding behind the wheel of an all-wheel-drive Stinger GT in a staging area behind a Stinger “guide” vehicle piloted by a Kia durability driver, I was under the impression that our out lap would be relatively mellow. At least, that was my takeaway from the morning safety briefing where we were shown one of those Nürburgring crash compilation videos and told to drive within our limits.

 

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Capable on the world’s most demanding racetrack.
Kia
Apparently, the durability driver in the lead car wasn’t in the safety briefing and was in attack mode right out of the pits. Trying to keep up with a professional driver at a track you’ve never been to in a car you’ve had very little experience in is a Herculean challenge, but I think I did an admirable job, mostly because of the incredibly capable and balanced vehicle Biermann and his team has created.

In Sport mode with the adaptive suspension firmed up, the near-4,000-pound Stinger felt planted through gradual, high-speed bends and handled side-to-side weight transfers remarkably well with an acceptable amount of body roll for a grand touring-type car. Unlike the majority of race tracks in the world, the Nordschleife doesn’t feature glass-smooth pavement. Mid-corner bumps are everywhere, which the Stinger’s chassis gobbled up beautifully as I continued my pursuit of the guide car.

If there is a complaint about the all-wheel-drive Stinger, it’s the front-end push in tighter corners. It’s far from terrible, but it is there. Unless prospective owners plan to take their Stingers to open track events often, turn-in is more than enough for regular to spirited street driving.

 

 

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Things got really exciting when I swapped into a rear-wheel-drive car. It didn’t take long to notice that it’s the athlete of the Stinger range, with a lighter 3,800-pound curb weight and swifter handling reflexes. It was more eager at turn-in with the front end simply digging in and going in the direction you tell it to, while the rear rotates around with the help of a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Steering in Sport mode featured some play on center, which is a good thing for regular driving, but dial in more steering angle and it firms up and offers a decent amount of feedback. The Brembo brakes never faded throughout the torturous runs with very little cool-down time between sessions, nor did the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires fall off, with grip levels remaining high and consistent lap after lap.

Powering the Stinger GT is a 3.3-liter, 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 boasting muscular grunt from the middle of the rev band up to redline, helping to produce a 60 mph time of 4.9 seconds. On track, boost lag was apparent when stepping back onto the throttle while exiting corners, which was a bit disappointing. It did receive extra credit for belting out a lovely growling exhaust note, which isn’t typical of blown V6s.

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The Stinger GT’s 365-horsepower turbo V6.
Kia

Serving as the base engine option for the Stinger in the US will be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower, good for a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.0 seconds.

The only transmission available is an in-house-built eight-speed automatic that does an excellent job ripping off smooth and brisk up- and downshifts when left in full-automatic mode. However, shift performance isn’t quite on par with the dual-clutch units or the ZF eight-speed auto gearbox prominent in many European sport sedans. For those who like playing with steering wheel-mounted paddles, a fairly responsive manual shift function is available, but I opted to let the transmission do all the work for the majority of time around the ‘Ring.

At the end of each lap down the track’s long back stretch, the Stinger’s high-speed stability stood out. It was rock solid at 150 mph with steering remaining responsive and never getting light or floaty, adding to the car’s impressive high-performance credentials.

 

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Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard.
Kia

 
While my romp around the Nürburgring only left time for dynamic impressions, Kia did shed some more light on additional cabin technology that will be available in the Stinger when it hits US showrooms. A color head-up display, Bluetooth, wireless smartphone charging, navigation and a 15-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio system will be available. All Stingers will come standard with the UVO infotainment system capable of running both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

On the safety front, a 360-degree backup camera, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, full-speed adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking will be on the options list.

The 2018 Kia Stinger will go on sale at the end of the year with its sights set squarely on luxury four-door fastbacks such as the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. It also isn’t much of a stretch to think of the Kia as an alternative to the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS. Kia expects pricing for the turbocharged four-cylinder to begin at roughly $30,000, while a nicely optioned V6 turbo GT should slide in at around $40,000.
Is the Stinger a serious contender to the above cars? Dynamically speaking, yes, it is darn close while offering a roomier cabin. The only question that remains is about how comfortable and compliant the Kia will be on regular roads, which is where the car will be used most of the time.

If my time around Germany’s most famous racetrack is any indication, I’m willing to wager that Biermann and his team have also made sure that the Stinger performs quite well on the street, too.

Kia Stinger returns to the Nurburgring – with guests

By Kia BUZZ Editorial Team June 23, 2017

Source: Kia Buzz

kia-motors-media-test-drive-kia-stinger-gt-nurburgring-germany

 

By now, everyone knows that the Kia Stinger is being put through the paces at the infamous Nurburgring circuit in Germany for fine tuning prior to entering mass production for overseas markets later this year. To prove the prowess of our prized gran turismo, Kia invited guests from the global media to this legendary driving course to test drive the Stinger for themselves.

 

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kia-motors-media-test-drive-kia-stinger-gt-fleet-nurburgring-germany

 

The Nurburgring – considered a Mecca for racing and car enthusiasts – is famous for its rigorous and merciless Nordschleife race track, also known as “The Green Hell”.

 

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Over a span of three days, influential automotive journalists and industry insiders were given the opportunity to experience the excellent driving dynamics of the Stinger first hand. Albert Biermann, Head of Vehicle Test & High Performance Development at Kia, was present on the scene to oversee the test drive and provide insight on the Stinger’s performance.

 

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Albert Biermann greets members of the media at the Nurburgring circuit.

 

As expected, our treasured fastback did not disappoint. “I was surprised to attend an event by Kia at Nurburgring and even more surprised at [the] ride & handling,” one guest remarked.

 

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The experience did not end there. Along with the exciting day of race track-paced driving, Kia facilitated a visit to the Kia Motors Europe headquarters and design center to learn about the design process of the Stinger. Peter Schreyer, Chief Designer of Kia Motors, and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer of the Kia Europe Design Center, led the event and guided visitors through the Stinger’s conception and development.

 

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Peter Schreyer (left) and Gregory Guillaume (right)
present their philosophies about the Stinger design.

 

From the racing track to the design facility, the event attendees were thoroughly impressed by the Stinger and had many wonderful things to say about their experience. Journalists praised the Stinger as a well-designed and well-rounded model with equal merit for its powerful performance. Some even went on to say that it may be Kia’s best creation yet!

Check out the Stinger’s impressive performance capability as it tears through the Nordschleife!

 

 

The Stinger is Kia’s most ambitious project to date and we are pleased that it has been well received by top automotive journalists around the world. As the Stinger prepares to launch worldwide, we cannot wait for global customers to meet and try out our new sports sedan.

Kia Stinger is coming to you soon. Stay tuned for more news about our long-awaited gran turismo!

 

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Kia has a new car that should scare BMW and Audi

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

Published

Original Article Here

This Is the Gorgeous, Rear-Wheel Drive Kia Stinger GT

A great name, 365 horsepower, and it looks great. A winner from Kia.

Source: http://www.roadandtrack.com – By Travis Okulski – January 8, 2017

In what has to be a surprise, the best part of Kia’s new performance sedan isn’t that it’s rear-wheel drive, isn’t that it’s beautiful, and not that it has 365 horsepower. It’s the name. The name rocks.

In a world where everyone is going to alphanumerics and boredom, Kia is calling a car the Stinger. Stinger. Yes, it’s the same as a name for a car from GTA 5, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s not a jumble of letters and numbers that mean nothing.

The best thing we've seen so far is, surprisingly, from Kia. The Kia Stinger GT is a 365 horsepower, rear-wheel drive sedan that looks like a mix of many of our favorite cars. We can't wait to drive it.

And the car itself looks pretty damn good too. The Stinger GT is somewhat similar in intent to a BMW 4-series GranCoupe, but it looks better. Look at those lines, it’s aggressive and svelte, and the rear-end with its connected taillights looks even better. It’s the sort of appearance you’d expect from BMW or Audi, not Kia. Yes, parts of it are derivative, but that’s because the man in charge of design at Hyundai/Kia is Peter Schreyer, a former Audi man himself.

And it’s what you’d hope Cadillac would build. Except they haven’t.

Inside, it looks very Mercedes-y, with HVAC vents on the center console and a screen all on its own. The wheel is reminiscent of a BMW. Sure seems like a step up from anything else that Kia has done.

Of course, what really matters is how it drives. It sounds like that’ll be the best part. It’s powered by a 3.3 liter, twin-turbo V6 that has 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. That goes through an eight-speed auto (no manual, sorry), which gets it to 60 in 5.1 seconds. Not too bad. And, of course, it’s rear-wheel drive. There will probably be a lower power version coming too, for those people that want the looks but can’t afford it.

We’re yet to see if it’s great to drive, but judging on the emphasis Kia has put on this car’s Nurburgring performance, we’re cautiously optimistic that it’ll be competitive with others in its class.

We’re yet to see it in person, but color us smitten. We’ll have a more in-depth look at the car when we see it on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show tomorrow.

First Drive: With 2018 Stinger, Kia Has A Worthy Challenger To German Premium Sedans

Source: Forbes by Michael Harley – January 8, 2017

“Drifting exercises will take place on the concrete skidpad,” instructs Albert Biermann, the gentleman tasked with heading testing and high performance development of Kia’s upcoming sport sedan. While the words ‘drifting’ and ‘Kia’ have been mutually exclusive for the past twenty years ― never to touch each other in the same sentence ― the South Korean automaker is drastically altering its course. Later this year, Kia will launch the 2018 Kia Stinger ― a turbocharged, rear-wheel drive, four-door engineered to compete directly against the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

You read that correctly. Kia, an automaker that made a name for itself with reliable, low-cost, vehicles targeting mainstream consumers has realigned its sights. The premium sedan segment, dominated by a handful of Europeans for years, is now in its crosshairs.

“The new Kia Stinger is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving,” explains Gregory Guillaume, Kia Motors Europe’s Chief Designer. “It’s 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.”

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

The passion that Guillaume romanticizes about was sparked by the Kia GT concept that was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. That forward-looking prototype was a powerful rear-wheel drive sport sedan that tugged at the heart of Kia’s car enthusiast designers (and, being frank, most passers-by at the European auto show). “The Kia design team is full of car guys and girls. Cars are deeply rooted in our culture. We love cars – they’re in our hearts and in our blood,” professes Guillaume. The glistening pearl white GT concept would be the catalyst for the production of the Stinger, an all-new vehicle with a name paying homage to the GT4 Stinger concept revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in 2014.

Five years after the concept debuted in Frankfurt, I’m standing in a building at Kia’s research and design center outside Seoul, South Korea, peering at a near production-ready Stinger sedan — and it appears, at first glance, undeniably striking.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

As expected, some of the radical show car touches meant for flair (e.g., rear-hinged back doors, flush handles and exterior mirrors mounted on the quarter panels) have disappeared, but the overall theme — a sporty and aggressively styled fastback — has been retained. A tape measure reveals that it is physically longer, wider, and taller than the Audi and BMW that it will compete against. Its overall look, led by Kia’s signature ‘Tiger Nose’ front grille, is well-proportioned and very European ― I see hints of Audi and Porsche from various angles. The design is fresh, cohesive and not over-styled like many of today’s Asian offerings.

The interior cleverly borrows more styling cues from the Europeans ― Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar come to mind. The cabin is intelligently configured, more traditional than futuristic, with a sporty upscale feel and premium materials. Best of all, the Stinger’s greater exterior dimensions and longer wheelbase translate to more passenger room than within the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

After a few hours poring over static models, I am escorted outside to Kia’s expansive test track where I meet up with a couple of camouflaged “test mules” (an industry term for pre-production vehicles) visually disguised in a black-and-white, triangle-speckled, vinyl wrap. The color scheme, which is meant to confuse spying eyes by hiding a vehicle’s character lines, doesn’t dissuade me from the mission ahead — Kia is allowing me to drive two early prototypes on its test track.

Eager like a 12-year-old, I drop behind the wheel, quickly adjust the seat and mirrors and then press a round start/stop button that is located to the right of the steering column. The turbocharged engine fires to life with a muted growl.

Kia explains that it will offer several variants of the sedan. Standard models, which will be sold as the ‘Stinger,’ arrive with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That powerplant aligns nicely with Audi and BMW’s base 2.0-liter engines in terms of output. However, Kia takes the upper hand with the engine that is fitted to the ‘Stinger GT,’ which is a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter ‘Lambda’ engine boasting 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. That engine is significantly more powerful than both Audi and BMW’s 3.0-liter offerings, a fact that is mostly credited to its slighter larger displacement. An eight-speed automatic transmission, manufactured in-house, is the sole transmission.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Kia won’t disclose the precise architecture (I’m betting the platform is shared with the future Genesis G70), but it does say that rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. The RWD models vaunt a sporty mechanical limited-slip differential, while rear-biased AWD models are equipped with a sophisticated Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control. The suspension design utilizes MacPherson struts up front and a five-link design in the rear — both have been engineered to take advantage of Kia’s Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), a driver adjustable suspension.

I’m behind the wheel of a Stinger GT AWD model, fitted with the twin-turbocharged V6, with its nose pointed towards a challenging dynamic handling circuit. With the driving dynamics mode set to ‘Sport,’ I complete a slow reconnaissance lap before mashing the accelerator the floor. The acceleration is linear and strong but accompanied by an unexceptional amount of audible ferociousness as the speedometer needle climbs around its analog dial. The first few turns are shallow and quick, and the Kia glides through them rather painlessly with a moderate amount of body roll. The electrically assisted steering feels good (the motor is bolted to the steering rack to improve response) and extremely precise. The feedback through the wheel allows me to take pride in the fact that I can guide the sedan through the circuit’s apexes nearly flawlessly.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Wide-open throttle out of the corner commands a few rapid downshifts from the automatic gearbox. The gear changes are smooth and well executed (manual control of the steering wheel-mounted paddles delivers shifts that are 20% faster), pushing me back into my seat as the speed increases. At the end of the straight, nearing triple digits, I mash the brake pedal mercilessly hard. High performance four-piston Brembo calipers, which are standard on the Stinger GT, promptly cut the velocity by half as I enter the left sweeper (the brakes feel strong — subjectively better than the brakes on a BMW or Audi). Unfortunately, I’m still carrying far too much speed. Despite trail braking to slow my pace, the Stinger GT resorts to significant understeer and the Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) join together to ruin the party.

My next lap is much better. After dancing through the curves, I brake harder for the left sweeper at the end of the straight and get on the throttle early. Power to the wheels allows the torque vectoring system to guide the AWD sedan around the turn. There is still understeer and body roll, but no more than I would expect from a standard Audi or BMW, and it’s completely manageable. I mentally take note that this is the heaviest Stinger model — Kia won’t discuss specifics about mass, but my well-honed derrière says it weighs about 3,900 pounds. The Stinger GT AWD is enjoyable, but I really want to drive the enthusiast-tuned, rear-wheel drive, configuration.

The engineers answer my wishes with the opportunity to drive a Stinger GT RWD model on the company’s expansive test pad. First, I run through a high-speed slalom — an exercise that is a walk in the park for the sedan. Next, I take a few untimed acceleration runs on a long straight (expect the 2.0-liter to sprint to 60 mph in about six seconds flat. The 3.3-liter should do the same about a full second quicker). The GT demonstrates abundant muscle, but I do wish for a more aggressive exhaust note under wide-open throttle.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

After a few stand-on-the-pedal braking exercises, which are violently dramatic yet effortless tasks for the Stinger (I don’t sense any fade), I am directed to an enormous concrete skidpad for drifting exercises. Drifting… in a Kia?

I can light up a pair of rear tires with ease when there’s 376 pound-feet of torque at the other end. Punch the Stinger GT in a corner at low speeds and it behaves like a well-mannered muscle car, slickly breaking both rear tires free in magnificent oversteer. I’m no Ken Block, so my sideways action typically results in a momentary glorious drift followed by an embarrassing full spin — no worries when the skidpad extends a few hundred yards in every direction. Someone with real talent will be able to ‘cord’ a set of rear tires in fewer than three minutes in the new Kia.

The handling circuit, slalom, acceleration runs and drifting exercises convince me that the Kia Stinger GT is the real deal — a bona fide sport sedan. That statement comes as no surprise to Guillaume, who tasked his team with engineering a vehicle that “looks the way it drives and drives the way it looks.” Kia even honed handling dynamics at a famed German racing circuit, but the objective wasn’t to set lap records like a race car. “That goes against the spirit in which the new Stinger was created,” explains Guillaume, “We used the Nürburgring to ensure the Stinger is capable of taking every kind of extreme road in its unflappable stride.”

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

The comments from Kia’s chief designer support my seat-of-the-pants impressions ― despite a specification sheet and chassis tuning that supports racing circuit prowess; the Stinger GT is a premium sport-tuned gran turismo for an everyday driving enthusiast, not a hardened competitor to the Audi S4, BMW M3, or any other challenger in that racy segment. Rather than fit ridiculously sticky tires, expensive carbon-ceramic brakes or a slew of nonsensical go-fast upgrades to chase numbers on a stopwatch, the engineering team focused its efforts on something that most automakers have long forgotten ― evoking driving emotion. The Stinger has character, and it’s fun to drive. BMW used to build vehicles like this ― is it possible that Kia has engineered a more emotional vehicle than the Bavarians?

“You cannot believe how excited I am about this car,” says Peter Schreyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer. “The new Kia Stinger is going to fundamentally change the global image of Kia. I have no doubt it will revolutionize the way people think about us. It’s going to propel us upwards into a different era.”

Revolutions don’t take place overnight, but Kia is confident that those who slip behind the wheel of the upcoming Stinger and Stinger GT later this year will be thrilled with the styling, coddled by the premium interior and undeniably captivated by its driving dynamics. My one-day stint driving early prototypes in Korea left me genuinely impressed and craving more seat time, which is precisely the reaction that Kia’s designers and engineers are seeking.

― Michael Harley

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Here’s What Bob Lutz Thinks About the Kia Stinger

R&T Contributor and auto industry icon Bob Lutz talks to us about the Kia Stinger.

By Travis Okulski | Jan 9, 2017

The surprise of the Detroit Auto Show has to be the lovely Kia Stinger, a four-door, rear-wheel drive sedan that is Kia’s first car released under the stewardship of Albert Biermann of BMW M fame.

We dig it, but we wanted to know what an industry icon thought of it, so we went to our own contributor, Maximum Bob Lutz.

If you’re not familiar, Bob Lutz’s resume includes cars like the BMW 3-series, Pontiac GTO, G8, Solstice, Saturn Sky, Cadillac CTS, Ford Explorer, Dodge Viper, and more. If there’s anyone who has insight on the newest Kia to hit America, it’s Bob.

Here’s what he thinks:

Kia directly targeting BMW with new Stinger sedan revealed in Detroit

Source: Auto Maker by David Guralnick – January 8, 2017

In a decommissioned factory near the heart of Detroit, Kia revealed its most ambitious car yet. A hype man on stage talked up what a big deal it was. The vibe was loft-party corporate. Through a haze of smoke and spotlights, Kia’s sleek new Stinger sedan made its debut ahead of the North American International Auto Show. Never before has the South Korean auto maker tried so hard to make a car seem so desirable. Never before has it had to.

With the 2018 Stinger, Kia hopes to lure wealthy buyers away from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Kia can’t compete in terms of brand prestige, but it has tried hard to compete on performance.

On paper, the Stinger certainly has the specs to compete against the best Germany has to offer. The all-new fastback sedan is based on a rear-wheel drive chassis and powered by either a 255 or 365-horsepower engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive will be available as an option.

Kia Stinger

Peter Schreyer oversaw the design, which was done at Kia’s studio in Frankfurt, while chassis tuning and performance was overseen by Albert Biermann.

Biermann joined Kia after more than 30 years at BMW, where he had a hand in engineering nearly all of M Division’s high-performance cars since the 1980s.

The BMW 4 Series was the key benchmark for the Stinger, Biermann said. “When you look at our quality ratings, and the success story of Kia, I think there are several companies who could be worried about how Kia is moving forward.”

The base Stinger is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, while the 365-horsepower Stinger GT has a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V-6 . Kia claims it’ll do 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, which makes it exactly as quick as the BMW 340i.

“The driving precision is on a different level from any other Kia,” Biermann said. “It’s really fun to drift the car; it’s easy to control.” A limited-slip differential and continuously adjustable suspension are standard on the Stinger GT and optional on the four-cylinder, he said, although Canadian specs are still being finalized.

Kia Stinger

In terms of design, the Stinger jumps right on the fastback sedan bandwagon. All three of Jaguar’s sedans are sleek fastbacks, which means the roofline runs nearly to the back edge of the car. Tesla, Mercedes and BMW also offer fastback sedans, and Audi will soon with the A5 Sportback. The Stinger draws design cues from the current Kia Optima sedan and the Kia GT concept shown at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

“Only then, after the 2011 show, the decision was made to actually make [the GT concept into a production model],” Schreyer said. “It was a very thrilling process for us.” The finished Stinger is remarkably similar to the GT concept car which rarely happens in the automotive world.

Hyundai-Kia, the South Korean auto giant, doesn’t lack for ambition. As of 2015 it was the third largest auto maker in the world in terms of sheer production, building nearly eight-million vehicles. Only Toyota and Volkswagen Group made more. Those two companies already have successful luxury brands in Lexus for Toyota and Audi, Bentley and Porsche for VW. Hyundai-Kia is after a slice of the prestige and fatter profit margins up for grabs in the luxury segment.

“I think that with this car we are at eye-level with other premium competitors,” said Schreyer.

Kia Stinger

Hyundai and Kia have both dabbled in the luxury car market before, albeit somewhat half-heartedly. Kia’s K900 sedan sits atop the current range, with a price that can climb to more than $70,000. Until recently, Hyundai offered the full-size, $65,000 Equus. It’s been replaced by an entirely new luxury sub-brand, called Genesis. At the moment it only has two cars, one of which is essentially a re-badged former Hyundai model, but a full lineup is in the works.

As good as the Stinger looks on paper and in person, the important questions for consumers remain: where will it fit into Kia’s crowded lineup and how much will it cost? Kia Canada isn’t saying. Compact luxury sedans from the Germans, as well as Lexus, start around $39,000. Biermann’s benchmark, the BMW 428i fastback is $49,450. Kia will have to undercut that price by a lot to have any chance of pulling buyers away from established premium cars.

It took Volkswagen Group more than a decade and untold millions to turn Audi into a true luxury brand. Today it’s on equal footing with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Is Hyundai-Kia willing to devote the time and resources necessary to create successful luxury divisions of its own, or is the company just dabbling again? We should get the answer when we drive the Stinger GT and find out the price later this year.

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