Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2017 North American International Auto Show happened before the doors opened. Kia shocked invited media the night before the show’s opening with the unveiling of its new Stinger sports sedan. Aimed clearly at the Europeans, the Stinger is a bold step forward for the Korean company.

Designed by a team led by Peter Schreyer, the man responsible for turning around the company’s visual appeal, and developed by Albert Biermann, Kia’s new head of development and former chief engineer at BMW’s venerable M division, the Stinger takes Kia to one of the most hotly contested segments in the industry.

Targeting mid-sized sport-luxe sedans from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and Lexus, Kia says the fastback-shaped Stinger is a grand tourer, given its origins with the Kia GT concept shown as far back as 2011.

However, the Stinger is no concept. It goes into production for the 2018 model year and promises substantial real world performance. The base engine is a 255-horsepower turbocharged four cylinder and the top motor is a twin turbocharged, 3.3-litre V6 that makes 365 horsepower. Both engines make peak torque from below 1,500 RPM and the company says the turbo six makes the Stinger capable of zero to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.

Both engines are mated to Kia’s in-house eight-speed automatic transmission and buyers have their choice of rear- or all-wheel drive with either engine.

This is a calculated step by Kia to go upmarket against some very strong, established competition and while the Stinger’s design has been attractively resolved, the car’s performance promises to elevate Kia’s brand. Mr. Beirmann knows a thing or three about developing satisfying, fun-to-drive sports sedans from his tenure at BMW M. Naturally, the Stinger spent some of its development time on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Look for the Kia Stinger to debut north of the border next month at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

 

Images courtesy of Kia. 

Published on Jan 09, 2017