Kia is in the perfect position to make a sports car.
The Kia Stinger was a mic drop moment, showing the Koreans can build a car that matches the performance of a BMW at a fraction of the price. Now it's time for Kia to follow up the Stinger with a car we've been craving for years, a two-door sports car. Kia has already teased us with concept cars like the Stinger GT4, so we know the company's designers are up to the task of building a handsome sports car.
But with sports car sales dwindling in favor of crossovers and SUVs, would Kia risk building such a low volume car? We obviously don't have a direct line into Kia's accounting department but from an outsider's perspective, the company is currently in a perfect position to build a sports car enthusiasts would cherish. Here's how we would build it.
Kia nailed it with the Stinger GT and there's almost nothing we'd change about it. Some of the proportions might have to be softer on a production car but if Kia could somehow make it look like the original concept, it would have a winner on its hands. You can clearly see how Kia learned from its earlier Kee Concept, developing an even more attractive sports car in the process. With a Nissan 370Z replacement still nowhere to be found and the next-generation Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 still questionable, Kia could strike first and capture a big share of a shrinking market.
Kia has already shown it can build an upmarket interior with the Stinger. We'd possibly like to see some more aggressive seat options, a lower driving position, and some more youthful color, but for all intents and purposes, the Stinger's interior would transfer nicely into a two-door sports car. Kia's infotainment is among the best in the industry, giving it a huge edge over competitors.
One of the best elements of the 370Z and the outgoing C7 Chevrolet Corvette is the rear hatchback. Having a two-seat sports car can limit what drivers can carry but a massive hatch behind the seats fixes this issue. Many sports cars used to have this layout but with the switch to a mid-engined design in the C8 generation, the 370Z is now the lone option. Like the Stinger, we'd love to see Kia build a car with a rear hatchback, allowing drivers to carry large items.
As much as we'd love Kia to build a 400-horsepower Toyota Supra rival, we have to remember Genesis is working on a sports car of its own. Therefore, Kia's sports car should compete slightly downmarket against the likes of the Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota 86. Kia could easily employ its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which currently produces 201 hp and can be mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch.
Future Kia models like the next-generation Optima are expected to use a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which could produce over 250 hp, perhaps even closer to 300 hp. Of course, no matter which engine Kia chooses, we'd like to see a rear-wheel-drive layout based on a shortened version of the Stinger's platform.
Here's the part where we may lose some of you. While we'd love to say Kia should build us a sports car with 200 to 250 hp for around $20,000, we understand it is not a reality in 2019. For the car to be competitive, a starting price of just over $25,000 makes sense for a 201-hp version and under $35,000 for something with 250 hp. This could put it around the same starting price as the Miata and 86 twins as well as the entry-level Mustang and Camaro. Meanwhile, the faster version would take the place of the 370Z, which isn't long for this world.