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Kia GT4 Stinger Concept: Detroit Auto Show

What Is It?

The Kia GT4 Stinger is a concept that could be a sneak preview of Kia’s first purpose-built sports car. Featuring a 2+2 seating configuration, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 315 horsepower and a 6-speed manual transmission, the GT4 Stinger promises to put Kia on the performance-car map if it ever makes it to the showroom floor. 

One word that jumps out in Kia’s press release is “affordable.” Maybe that’s why the GT4 Stinger eschews more exclusive engines such as the K900 sedan’s 5.0-liter V8 in favor of the turbo 4-cylinder — a hopped-up version of what’s already offered in the turbocharged Optima and Sportage. Kia seems to be aiming at the meat of the performance market here, where muscle cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang mix it up with nimble coupes such as the Scion FR-S and Nissan 370Z. Indeed, given its claimed 2,874-lb curb weight, the Kia GT4 Stinger would be like an FR-S with the one thing the Scion really lacks: world-class acceleration. 

But in light of the GT4 Stinger’s exotic appearance, we wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R mentioned as competitors. The vertical LED headlights lend a premium look to the Stinger’s nose, while staggered 20-inch wheels with Brembo brakes and wide 275/35 Pirelli rear tires leave no doubt about the car’s sporting intent. Out back, striking LED taillights flank a blacked-out valance with dual exhaust tips. Replace that Kia badge with one from, say, Audi or BMW and few would question a projected 6-figure price. (See, for example, the BMW i8.) 

The Stinger’s cabin is no less distinctive, as a pull on one of the billet-aluminum exterior door handles reveals race-bolstered bucket seats, aluminum pedals, a flat-bottom steering wheel and — wait for it — no stereo whatsoever. What’s that? No tunes? As Kia’s press release explains, “the free-flow exhaust burbles and blurts unabashedly and is music to the ears of driving enthusiasts everywhere.” We admire the purist sentiment here, but look for a standard stereo system to be one of the first changes if Kia green-lights the GT4 Stinger for production. 

Will They Ever Sell It?

For most companies, the answer would be “no way.” A car such as the Stinger is too radical for the real world. But this is Kia we’re talking about. Seemingly every time that we’ve doubted the automaker would build a concept car, it whipped up a production version of it within a couple of years. So we’re going to go out on a limb and say, “yes.” Something very much like the GT4 Stinger may well be arriving at your local Kia dealer before too long. 

Why It’s Important

Kia has gotten its foot in almost every door at this point, but the performance-car space has proven elusive. With the advent of the rear-wheel-drive K900, it seems only natural that something such as the GT4 Stinger would follow in its footsteps to round out Kia’s portfolio, just as the athletic Hyundai Genesis Coupe arrived hand-in-hand with the luxurious Genesis sedan. We hope we’re right, because we can’t wait to get behind the wheel and let this 315-hp Stinger loose.

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