For every auto show rule there is an exception. This year at the North American International Auto Show, the outlier is the Kia Stinger, a rear-wheel drive sports sedan. In a show that skimps on splash and sizzle, Kia is taking aim at the German car market and the svelte BMW 4 Series of the world. It’s an intentional strategy by the South Korean automaker to stand out from the pack. Kia is banking on infusing razzle dazzle to its more pedestrian product lineup. And it wants the US market to know its here to tango.
Fluid lines, a long, elegant swoop of a hood, and tight rear quarters are integral to its racy physique. The Kia Stinger has two engines; the juicier option is the 3.3-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower and clocks 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds. The Stinger is available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Driving enthusiasts will go crazy for the rear-wheel drive option, but in this Detroit wintery weather, all-wheel drive certainly has its appeal. Kia is only offering an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Kia has said for years that it would build a rear wheel drive sedan, and now it’s doubling down on its promise. The GT4 Stinger concept graced the Detroit stage three years ago, but then seemed to fade away. Kia’s current top-selling model is the Soul, a boxy and quirky crossover. And while a Stinger isn’t going to cut into the crossover market, it could get Kia the brand respect it desires.
In the world of sports cars, the sting is usually associated with the iconic Corvette Stingray, certainly not Kia. But the game and how its players maneuver is changing at this auto show where news and practical production giants loom large. Kia offers welcome reprieve, a car that we haven’t seen before that has looks and personality, like car show of days past. We care about the tech inside of car, but we have to admit, it’s fun to see a car that has some oomph to it.
Photography by: Sean O’Kane