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Is the Kia Stinger Going to Succeed or Fail?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2017

In just a few weeks -- or maybe a few months, I have no idea -- the 2018 Kia Stinger will officially go on sale. Just to refresh your memory, this is a high-performance, rear-wheel-drive Kia near-luxury sport sedan that's going to offer two potent engines: a 255-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, and a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6. It's handsome, and it seems sporty, and it looks cool ... but will it fail?

Today, I'm rounding up the arguments for and against the Kia Stinger. You can deliver your opinion in the comments.

Kia Stinger: Failure

The main reason the Stinger might be a failure is obvious: because it's a Kia. Yes, sure, it was designed by the now-famous Peter Schreyer, who did the Audi TT, and yes, it's gorgeous, and yes, it seems powerful -- but when people go looking for a sport sedan, do they really go looking for Kia?

Beyond the fact that the brand has no equity in this segment is the possibility that it may actually have negative equity: The idea of announcing to your friends that you've bought a Kia, when they have a BMW or a Mercedes competitor, may be enough to send people to rival luxury sport sedans. We've already seen this with the Alfa Romeo Giulia, whose sales haven't been strong, and the Chevy SS, whose sales were even less than strong despite the fact that it is simply one of the best sport sedans ever from a well-known performance brand.

The Stinger's other big liability is the fact that it simply isn't an SUV. I continue to harp on this at every single press launch I attend: People. Want. SUVs. Kia and Hyundai seem to be interested in creating more and more cars, and neglecting the SUV business: Kia currently makes just two SUVs (the Sportage and the Sorento), while Toyota is making six (C-HR, RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser), plus two pickups.

SUV sales are up. Car sales are down. And the way to capture new, youthful buyers with money is to simply create an SUV. That isn't the Stinger.

Kia Stinger: Success!

Then again, the Stinger has some really important things going for it. For instance: Have you seen it? It's truly beautiful, with gorgeous styling and a sloping roofline that's reminiscent of some German luxury car costing far more. When the Hyundai Genesis first launched, we all questioned whether it could compete with more established rivals -- and to some extent, it did. But this thing looks a lot better than the Genesis ever has.

Then there's the fact that the Stinger boasts really strong performance. The base engine makes 255 horsepower, which is strong enough; the optional twin-turbo V6 makes an amazing 365 horsepower and gets from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds. That's really impressive. Also desirable is the fact that the Stinger is all- or rear-wheel drive, rather than front-wheel drive like some were fearing. Kia has figured out what the market wants from a performance sedan, and they appear to be delivering it.

They're also delivering it for a lower price than rivals. Now, I don't know this for a fact, so don't quote me on this, but I strongly suspect the Kia Stinger is going to be cheaper than competitors -- largely based on Kia's track record with this sort of thing. Admittedly, I could be completely wrong about this, and it might be more expensive -- but it appears Kia has identified precisely what it needs to compete in this segment, and that means they've probably figured out high-value pricing.

So, will the Stinger be a success or a failure? Leave your thoughts below, so I can use them against you if you turn out to be wrong.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Is the Kia Stinger Going to Succeed or Fail? - Autotrader