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Future models - Kia - GT4 Stinger

Detroit show: Kia Stinger missile cuts loose

Sting in the tail: The Kia GT4 Stinger is a concept only at this stage but could see life as a production model soon.

Sexy Kia GT4 Stinger turbo concept teases circa-2017 RWD sports coupe

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Kia logo14 Jan 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

Kia today premiered a possible future rival to the likes of the Toyota 86 - albeit one with substantially more power - in the form of the sexy, rear-drive and turbocharged GT4 Stinger.

Making its premiere at the North American International Auto Show, the Stinger loosely shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai Genesis coupe, and comes in a 2+2 configuration.

Kia says it has gone back to basics, with minimal electronic intervention, in order to make the driving experience more pure. There’s not even a radio in the snug cabin. The Korean brand says it wanted to hark back to the “glory days of purebred, affordable sports cars”.

While the car you see here is just a concept, designed by a team of six at Kia’s California design studio led by Tom Kearns, the company gave strong hints at NAIAS a production model will emerge, potentially by early 2017.

The concept looks about 80 per cent production ready both outside and in, with clean and simple lines highlighted by pronounced rear haunches, a distinct crease running the length of the car and an aggressive take on the brand-signature ‘Tiger’ grille.

“Our team wanted to design a car like the one they sketched on their books at school when they should’ve been concentrating on science class,” said Kia Design Centre America chief designer Tom Kearns at the premiere.

“We gave the car a shrink-wrapped appearance. It’s as if the body panels were formed around the chassis instead of merely welded to it.

“It’s a totally selfish design. The design team at KCDA is full of gearheads and enthusiasts, and the GT4 Stinger is the perfect car for that kind of crowd.” Interestingly, the transparent A-pillars provide a more than 270-degree view from the driver’s seat.

Under the concept’s bonnet sits a tuned version of Kia’s 2.0-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) four-cylinder engine putting out 235kW.

“Our Optima racecars use the same engine and can produce more than 294kW,” said Mr Kearns. “So why not infuse our concept with the kind of power that will make people take notice?” Power is sent to the rear 235/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zeros through a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. Custom 20-inch aluminum centre-lock wheels feature carbon fibre inserts for strength and weight reduction. Tucked inside the massive wheels are Brembo Gran Turismo two-piece 15-inch cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers.

Underpinning the GT4 Stinger’s sculpted “Ignition Yellow” body is a custom chassis with independent double wishbone suspension, though Kia admits it shares much with the Genesis from parent company Hyundai.

The Stinger has a shorter wheelbase (2618mm) and overall length (4310mm) than a Cerato sedan, an 1890mm width, and a swooping roofline nearly 225mm lower (1250mm total) than a Rio.

It tips the scales at 1304kg, and weight distribution is spread 52/48 per cent front to rear. The GT4 Stinger also gets a quick-ratio steering rack.

Kia president and chief design officer for both Kia and Hyundai, Peter Schreyer, spoke with GoAuto at the Detroit reveal. Mr Schreyer re-iterated that the GT4 was a concept only, but said he wanted to see it in production proper.

It’s understood such a car would be feasible for mainstream production inside three years if the chips fall the right way. If public reaction to the GT4 is strong, expect the car to be green-lit soon.

“It’s only a concept study, there is no plan at the moment. We have to wait now, maybe there is a chance,” he said. “It requires a positive decision from our top management.

“Other people need to decide on investment and cost, I can suggest something, I have a strategic part in the game… I’d love to see a production version of every show car.

“With all the concept cars we do, we always do them in the way that we imagine them as cars for the road… I think the concept cars, as long as they stay concept cars, they have a certain impact… but to bring a car to production is another chapter.”

Asked if the success of car like the 86 inspired Kia’s latest concept, Mr Schreyer answered with a simple “no”. He also said a Kia/Hyundai joint-venture could make a production version more feasible.

“No… it’s not like we look around and the others do it as well, we’ve been wanting to do a car like this for a long time, we get our inspirations from all kinds of things but not necessarily what others are doing.

“(Collaboration with Hyundai) could probably make sense, maybe, there’s many products with parallel bother/sister cars between the companies, so it maybe makes the cost case more realistic. But it’s not been discussed,” he said.

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