What? A desirable Kia for car enthusiasts? Yes, you heard me right! Kia have unveiled their new 2018 model, named the Stinger at the North American International Auto Show. They are claiming that this is the car to redefine the Kia brand. Good start. The Stinger is a sports saloon that aims to compete with the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class. Ambitious.
They want to shake up the segment currently dominated with European and mostly German products. I really like where they’re going with this. It will be the highest performance car that Kia have yet produced and will arrive in showrooms later this year, with pricing being announced closer to its launch.
Design wise, the Kia is sporty and sleek at the front while being very Gran-Tourismo like further back. The long bonnet and tall broad shoulders add a muscular look. Being designed by the Frankfurt design studio, Kia are going for a European look, which they hope will attract buyers from their German competitors. The breather behind the front wheels also elongates the appearance from the side profile. The wheelbase is long aiding cabin space.
On the topic of the cabin, the dashboard is split into two distinct sections. At the top there is the a colour touchscreen while the heater controls are found at the bottom. Pretty standard stuff. The instrument cluster is analog and digital with metal rings surrounding the speedometer and rev counter. Red needles add the sporty touch.
On the driving side of things, hopes are very high. It is the first ever rear wheel drive Kia. Hallelujah. When Kia decided they were going after a sports saloon to rival the Germans, they hired Albert Biermann from BMW. It was his mission to make the Kia drive as good as it looks. To start with, the wheelbase is longer than that of the Lexus IS, Audi A4 and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. It is also longer and wider than many of these cars.
Underneath, the new Dynamic Stability Damping Control allows the handling traits to be modified by the driver. There are five driving modes to choose from; Personal, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart. One of the things changed by the different modes is the electronically assisted steering that Kia claim offers great feedback.
Moving onto power, initially there will be a choice of two engines. Both petrol power! This just gets better and better! The standard 2.0 turbocharged inline four produces 255bhp, very respectable. And if that doesn’t do it for you, there is also a 3.3 turbocharged V6 that will surely get your heart racing. This 365bhp KIA, and remember this is a Kia, will hit 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and go on to 167mph.
There is no mention of a manual transmission option but the automatic is an eight speed designed in house by Kia. An all-wheel drive model will also be on offer as Kia recognises that not all passionate drivers reside in optimum climes. How thoughtful!
Technology is also impressive. For the first time Kia are using a drowsiness attention alert to try combat the accidents caused by fatigued drivers. The ‘Forward Collision Assistance’ and Autonomous Emergency Braking can detect an imminent collision and aid braking to avoid it. Advanced Smart Cruise Control can keep you a set distance from the car in front and bring you to a complete stop.
I am very excited for this new Kia and hope that it lives up to expectations.