Kia is getting serious about turning itself into an automaker worthy of the respect of car enthusiasts around the world, and the proof is in the brand's most notable addition to its 2018 lineup, the Stinger.
It's an aggressive-sounding name that fits the sport sedan image Kia is trying to establish with a car that, in Canada, initially comes standard with a 3.3L turbo V6 engine. Kia says a turbo four-cylinder will follow sometime in 2018, and will likely only be offered with rear-wheel drive.
Kia says it had cars like the Audi S5, BMW 440i and 640i Gran Coupes, Porsche Panamera and Lexus GS in mind as it designed this car, and that shows in a profile defined by a long hood and fastback rear end.
This isn't Kia's first attempt at an upscale car -- that was the K900, a big sedan based on the Hyundai Equus -- but it is the Korean brand's first crack at making one that might be taken seriously by driving enthusiasts looking for something close to European driving dynamics at a more affordable price. Among the K900's biggest faults was its lack of AWD, a feature that has become de rigueur in luxury cars and is appealing to many Canadians for reasons we don't need to explain.
That said, early reports suggest this car's chassis shines brighter in RWD form thanks to a reduction in weight and front wheels that only have to worry about steering the car.
Before this, the closest thing Kia came to offering a sporty car was in turbocharged versions of its Optima mid-size sedan and compact Forte, cars that acquitted themselves nicely as daily drivers but were hardly notable as performance models.
Initially, the Stinger comes in two trims, dubbed GT and GT Limited. The lesser gets Brembo brakes, 7.0-inch display audio system, power tailgate, heated steering wheel, passive keyless entry, leather seating with heated front seats and UVO infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Limited trim adds active safety kit (radar cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, driver attention alert and a 360-degree camera system), 8.0-inch infotainment screen, LCD gauge cluster, upgraded sound system, head-up display, driver's seat with adjustable bolsters and bottom cushion, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
Fuel consumption estimates are 12.7/9.6 L/100 km (city/highway).