For the South Korean brand, the Stinger GT is a monumental moment, since mainstream car companies rarely dabble in competition with heavy luxury players such as Audi, Porsche, and BMW.
– Toronto, ON
A lot of labels are thrown at new cars to make them sound more attractive. The GT – short for a grand tourer or gran turismo in Italian – is one that has been bandied about since the time of the Great Depression with the rollout of the 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT. Fiat, Ferrari, Lancia, and Maserati would eventually come to the party with their own versions, which set the tone for an onslaught of GTs in the years to come.
In essence, a GT is typically a two-door coupe or at times a 2+2 configuration with a hardtop. But to be true to its designation, it has to have the specific combination of being a high-performance car and long-distance cruiser. And that recipe adds up to a car that brings a lot of speed, comfort, and handling excitement to the open road.
Recently, Kia unveiled its own GT, labelled the Stinger, which is set to hit dealerships by the end of the year. For the South Korean brand, the Stinger GT is a monumental moment, since mainstream car companies rarely dabble in competition with heavy luxury players such as Audi, Porsche, and BMW. It's a foreign environment for Kia, but it's going all-in with this "halo" coupe-like sedan with the hopes of boosting the entire company's image in the process.
We can talk about its base 255 horsepower or optional 365 hp turbo engines that are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, but that would only paint a small part of what makes this a quintessential GT. To delve right into the true nature of the bold Stinger GT and what the term GT means to Kia, we spoke with Ted Lancaster, Kia Canada's Chief Operating Officer.
"[The Stinger] is a true Gran Turismo by possessing the ultimate balance of performance, comfort, and design. And on top of that it has all-wheel drive capability as well as rear-wheel to give it that road-hugging feel and elevation of product performance that years ago was something of a question for the Kia brand."
The Stinger essentially has all the right tools of those historic GTs thanks to the great designer Peter Schreyer and his team. It has a long wheelbase, yet sloping fastback design with muscular scoops on its hood. Both all- and rear-wheel drive versions come with a softer Dynamic Stability Damping Control suspension that adapts to the driver's style for that ideal smooth and comfortable joy ride with ample speed in the holster when needed.
It's a big leap for Kia, but one that's perceived as a natural step after receiving acclaim from the design of the Optima, Cadenza, K900, and even the GT Concept back in 2011 – a vision that became the building blocks for the current Stinger. Now, it's just a matter of putting it into production.
"But most importantly, the Stinger GT puts us in a different category," adds Lancaster. "It's Kia's first all-wheel drive sedan that we're bringing to market, which shows that we're meeting more needs globally and specifically for the Canadian market. It's a big opportunity for us. Customers can enjoy everything about it in a fastback format, while not compromising on comfort and convenience."
But for Kia, the Stinger is not about trying to show off luxury, nor is it showcasing a value-laden choice. According to Lancaster, it's a break from convention that offers, "a challenging product filled with performance, appeal, luxury styling, and of course with that comes some degree of status."
Getting to the destination in a GT is the joy, and it's not about how quick one can achieve that goal. The Stinger understands that mission by supplying a healthy dose of cargo space for those long journeys, as well its fair share of luxury touches inside such as Nappa leather seating, the latest safety technologies, and an informative TFT screen to keep up with the Joneses.
The 2018 Kia Stinger GT will begin production in October with a Canadian sales rollout expected in November. Price has yet to be confirmed, but we've been told to expect a starting price between the top-of-the-line Optima and the mid-trim Cadenza with three exterior colours to choose from: red, white, and black. With a total of three to five trim levels to be offered, Kia wants this GT to be out on the streets attracting plenty of attention.
Live photos: Kanishka Sonnadara / Motor1 Canada