Kia calls GT4 a 'throwback' to era of untamed sports cars

Kia engineers prioritized weight reduction to bring the GT4 Stinger concept to a 2,874-lb. curb weight.

DETROIT -- Kia Motors America revealed its GT4 Stinger concept sports car at the Detroit auto show, a car that the company says pays tribute to affordable sports cars of the past.

The concept is a two-plus-two setup, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder generating 315 horsepower routed to the rear wheels through a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. Kia envisions the concept as a track-capable vehicle that can double as a sporty daily driver.

Engineers and designers at Kia's U.S. design studio in Irvine, Calif., created a bespoke platform for the GT4 Stinger, riding on a double-wishbone chassis with wheels set wider at the back than they are at the front. The car has a shorter wheelbase and overall length than a Kia Forte compact, rides lower than a Rio subcompact yet is wider than the Cadenza large sedan.

"Driving enjoyment was the No. 1 priority in designing the GT4 Stinger," Tom Kearns, chief designer at Kia Design Center America, said in a statement today. "The GT4 Stinger is a throwback to days when driving a car was a visceral experience that wasn't muted by electronic gimmickry."

The car's front end is marked by a low, gaping maw of a grille, which the company says is designed for maximum cold-air induction and cooling for the high-revving engine. The blacked-out A-pillars borrow from the same design cue on the Kia Soul subcompact, making the car look like "it's wearing wraparound sunglasses," Kearns says.

Kia engineers prioritized weight reduction to bring the Stinger to a 2,874-lb. curb weight, putting little heft-shaving touches throughout the car such as using carbon fiber inserts in the 20-inch custom aluminum wheels and replacing interior door handles with fabric pull straps.

"It's a totally selfish design," Kearns said in the statement. "The design team at KCDA is full of gearheads and enthusiasts, and the GT4 Stinger is the perfect car for that kind of crowd."

Kia says it has no current plans to put the car into production, while noting that the company has a history of releasing production cars that closely resemble previous concepts.

You can reach Ryan Beene at autonews@crain.com

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