Last week, I told you all about the Kia Stinger GT, which is a radical, new sport-luxury sedan from Kia, the automaker who brought us the 94-horsepower Sephia subcompact just a decade ago. The Stinger GT is cool, and fun, and exciting — but more importantly, I think it’s the start of something else.
Here’s my thinking: The cost of developing a vehicle like the Stinger isn’t cheap. Creating a rear-wheel-drive platform, developing sporty suspension and designing an engine and transmission that work together to bring excitement to the market is all very difficult, and very time-consuming, and very expensive. Lincoln still hasn’t gone rear-wheel drive, despite clear market interest with rival brands like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW. This isn’t something you just … do.
And it especially isn’t something you just do for one vehicle (or for two vehicles, if you want to count the Kia K900, which is currently selling at approximately the same level as the Rolls-Royce Phantom). Instead, I suspect the Stinger GT is the first in a line of Kia models that will begin a new trend of sporty, luxurious and high quality.
There are a couple of reasons I say this, beyond the likely development cost of the Stinger. One is obvious: Kia has sat by and watched as luxury brands have earned high profits selling upscale models, rather than lower profits selling economy cars and “value-packed” models like most Kia vehicles. Simply put, Kia wants a piece of the luxury-vehicle market and the high profits associated with it — and Kia seems to feel its brand image has now reached a place where they can begin making that leap. It may take a while, and it may be expensive — but if Lexus is any indication, there’s a lot of profit and success down that road if Kia goes in the right direction.
And then there’s the other sign: A few years ago, Kia took the unusual step of hiring Peter Schreyer, formerly Audi’s design chief and the man responsible for the gorgeous 2000 TT, as their chief design officer. Schreyer immediately implemented the well-received “Tiger Nose” grille, and he’s obviously had a hand in the Stinger GT in a big way. My assumption is you don’t poach a well-known employee from a high-end luxury brand unless you plan on venturing into the high-end luxury-brand territory yourselves.
So what’s next for Kia? A coupe? A high-end luxury brand, like sister company Hyundai’s new “Genesis?” A sporty SUV? I honestly have no idea — but I strongly suspect the answer isn’t “nothing.” Moreover, I strongly suspect we’ll think about Kia in an entirely new way in just a decade. Find a Kia Stinger for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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