Oomph, cathedrals, doppelgangers and dropped jaws: Kia's Stinger and what people are saying

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

Kia made the 2017 Detroit auto show a platform to showcase the Stinger, aiming to add some thrill to its lineup and challenge European luxury automakers. The 2018 Kia Stinger’s wheelbase is longer than many in the compact sport sedan class dominated by some of the most recognizable -- and copied -- names in the industry, including the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-class and CLS. The Stinger is quite a departure for the Korean brand, leaving much to be discussed among the automotive press. Here’s what people are saying about the 2018 Kia Stinger.

“While Kia has always had some pretty sleek designs, it's more of a mass-market manufacturer. It's great at churning out cars that look good and have great value, but offer little excitement behind the wheel. The Stinger changes that up with a fastback-style sedan that's easily the sportiest production car the Korean manufacturer has ever built.”

-- Andrew Krok, Roadshow by CNET

“Kia has said for years that it would build a rear wheel drive sedan, and now it’s doubling down on its promise. The GT4 Stinger concept graced the Detroit stage three years ago, but then seemed to fade away. Kia’s current top-selling model is the Soul, a boxy and quirky crossover. And while a Stinger isn’t going to cut into the crossover market, it could get Kia the brand respect it desires. In the world of sports cars, the sting is usually associated with the iconic Corvette Stingray, certainly not Kia. But the game and how its players maneuver is changing at this auto show where news and practical production giants loom large. Kia offers welcome reprieve, a car that we haven’t seen before that has looks and personality, like car shows of days past. We care about the tech inside of car, but we have to admit, it’s fun to see a car that has some oomph to it.”

-- Tamara Warren, The Verge

“What’s hard to believe here is that this thing is a Kia. The styling and power behind this thing are reminiscent of higher-end manufacturers like BMW or Audi, but here we are, dropping our jaws over a Kia. But let’s get to the sad part here. The car will have an eight-speed automatic transmission, with no manual option. Granted, fewer and fewer new sport sedans these days have those, but it’s still a bummer.”

-- Alanis King, Jalopnik

Photo credit: REUTERS

“It looks like a Maserati and will go like a BMW, especially as the handling was honed on the Nurburgring, the cathedral of European sports cars. If there’s one problem with the Stinger, it’s that I fear nobody will buy one. Such impressive performance and features are sure to account for a sticker price north of $40,000, and I’m still not sure if the car-buying public is ready to drop that kind of coin on a Korean sports sedan.

Then again, the Genesis G80 has done well for itself, so I could very well be wrong. For a car like this, I sincerely hope that’s the case.”

-- Brian Leon, New York Daily News

“Stinger retains Kia’s tiger-shark nose with the familiar grille and a long nose. It builds out from there with wide wheel arches, air intakes in front and with 'gills' behind the front wheels, a wide stance and long wheelbase that gives the rear-wheel-drive sedan muscle car proportions. Quad exhaust pipes add to the sporting appeal.”

-- Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune

“Nobody expected Kia to actually make the GT Concept we'd seen a couple of years ago, but here it is — in all its Germanic rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged, sports sedan glory. The interior is dynamite as well, with all the style of the Alfa Romeo Giulia but added room, refinement and material quality that betters the last Audi A4 I sampled. Priced right, this thing could be a serious contender for Kia… although it does make one wonder why Kia is making a car that should have gone to the Genesis luxury brand instead.”

-- Aaron Bragman, Cars.com

“Good timing, Stinger. Big Three muscle mostly sat out this year’s show, giving the Nurburgring-tested, five-door Kia coupe the performance spotlight. First shown as the stunning Kia GT concept in Europe in 2011, the Stinger makes a statement of Kia’s intentions to be more than a builder of mainstream appliances. 'This is a Kia brand that surprises and challenges,' says design boss Peter Schreyer. The same length as its doppelganger — the $70,000 Audi A7 — Kia says the Stinger will be targeted at the $40,000 BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class.”

-- Henry Payne, The Detroit News

“The design certainly is aggressive; it is the work of Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt. Up front, there’s the brand’s familiar 'tiger nose' grille, but behind that, the low stance and muscular proportions effectively distinguish the Stinger from anything else the company has produced. Buyers will be able to have fun by getting their buddies to guess the brand of their new car when seen in profile. There’s something distinctly Alfa Romeo–ish about the rear end’s small, high-mounted taillights as well as the quad tailpipes on the V-6 GT model. LED lighting is standard front and rear.”

-- Mike Duff, Car and Driver

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com -- Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackwalsworth

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