Bravo, Kia. Bravo.
Who would have ever thought a Kia would be crowned king of the Detroit Auto Show? Certainly not this writer, but that was before the 2018 Stinger. From this point on we’ll think of Kia in two eras: before and after the Stinger. Many automakers, including those from Detroit, are shifting focus from performance towards fuel efficiency and autonomous tech. But Kia poached BMW M’s top chassis and tuning guy, Albert Biermann, to work with its star design chief, Peter Schreyer, to deliver something special. And boy did these guys deliver.
The 365-hp and 376 lb-ft of torque Stinger is the result. Obviously we’ll have to wait until we can get behind the wheel for an official verdict, but all early indicators are promising. Built on a rear-wheel-drive platform, the Stinger is not, by any means, conservative, in appearance or attitude. Zero to 60 mph happens in a reported 5.1 seconds thanks to its twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. Require all-wheel drive? No problem, because it’ll be optional. Biermann, in his evident excitement about his newly born child, told me one of the reasons why he jumped ship to Kia was because of the Stinger project. One look at the full-size clay model convinced him Kia was the place to be, and the South Korean automaker is fully committed to the project.
Developed on both the Nurburgring and Kia’s own test track in Korea, the Stinger, we must remember, is not about pure speed, but rather the experience. You’re supposed to have fun behind the wheel, and getting wherever it is you need to be shouldn’t be rushed. It’s a grand tourer inspired by some of the best, past and present. By now you’re thinking about the car’s most direct competitors. Think Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, only the Stinger will max out at about $50,000. Meanwhile, the Big Three of Detroit revealed nothing like this. Sure, there was the refreshed Ford F-150 and new Chevrolet Traverse, but what else?
BMW showed off its new 5 Series lineup while Audi had its Q8 concept and a couple of other nice offerings, but nothing completely all new. Mercedes-Benz? The new E-Class Coupe, but as beautiful as it is, it was the Kia Stinger that left me with the biggest design impression. The rear three-quarter view is perhaps the best angle and its fastback design makes it all the more special. We dug VW’s ID Autonomous Bus concept, but it’s still just a concept. The Stinger is the real deal and will be in dealerships this fall. Detroit, the heart and soul of the American auto industry, is supposed to bring out the excitement and passion us gearheads, regardless of age, have for cars. Nothing new and mainstream from GM, Ford, or FCA did that this year.
The German brands typically save their best for Frankfurt/Paris or Geneva. As for Japan, there was the new Toyota Camry and Lexus LS, Honda Odyssey minivan, and the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept. Do any of those leave the same impression on you as the Stinger? Didn’t think so. And with that, we proudly crown the 2018 Kia Stinger as the undisputed star of this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Wear it well , Kia, because it was rightfully earned.