DETROIT -- Kia is flying even farther from its roots with the new Stinger, a midsize four-door hatchback that's aimed at adding more thrill to the brand’s car offerings and challenging European luxury automakers for performance and refinement.
Kia is hoping performance and handling will be seen as the hallmarks of the Stinger, to the degree that it can use the hatchback as an image halo for the entire brand.
Even before the Stinger was introduced Sunday night in Detroit, Kia had launched a marketing campaign centered around video snippets of the car racing around the iconic proving grounds of the Nurburgring in Germany.
“For the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event,” said Albert Biermann, head of vehicle testing and high performance for both Kia and Hyundai. “Because nobody expects such a car -- not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It’s a whole different animal.”
Biermann’s involvement with the project speaks to how seriously Kia and Hyundai are taking the next chapter in each brand’s progress.
The Korean automakers lured Biermann to their side in 2014 from BMW’s famed M division of high-performance vehicles. In his current role with the Koreans, he oversees the development of a variety of new performance-oriented offerings that include this Stinger and its forthcoming cousin, the Genesis G70, as well as Hyundai’s promised N line of high-performance small cars.
Kia, for its part, has embraced not only Biermann, but also the European playbook for performance coupes and sedans.
The new Stinger rides on a new rear-wheel-drive platform that it will share with the G70 -- which could debut later this year -- as well as future Genesis crossover models.