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‘Game changing’ Stinger to lift Kia

Dead ringer Stinger: While not quite as faithful to the 2011 GT concept as the Range Rover Evoque or original Audi TT were to their show-stealing progenitors, the Stinger is close enough to put Kia into the concept-to-reality club.

Kia’s new brand-building Stinger already attracting buyers in Australia

Kia logo8 Mar 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE Kia Stinger sports sedan will be responsible for a fundamental shift in Kia’s brand perception globally, according to two of the company’s top executives.

The all-new rear-wheel-drive performance car – uncovered at January’s Detroit motor show and revealed in European spec overnight at the Geneva motor show – will hit Australian showrooms later this year in 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot and potent 3.3-litre turbo V6 guises.

Speaking with GoAuto on the stand at the Geneva show, Kia Motors president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer said the sleek and sporty four-door liftback would have an impact on the brand’s image.

“I think it will be a kind of a game changer for Kia,” he said. “I think it shows the potential of Kia, what we can do. It is also nice that today we are showing basically the two ends of the product range somehow (Picanto and Stinger).

“And it shows how wide Kia’s range is and how easy that we can actually do this.”

Mr Schreyer said Kia was now more focused on developing sportier, more exciting models and the Stinger was a great example of this.

“We are constantly doing this. The GT versions of the Cee’d and Pro_cee’d, the Optima are also quite exciting cars for their segments. So I think we are on a good way and of course we want to build this up more.”

Kia Motors Europe chief operating officer Michael Cole said the Stinger was the perfect model to change consumers’ minds about what the Kia brand stands for.

“We know a little bit of some of the old perception, but we know the reality of where we are as a brand today, and you sometimes need something like this to almost put a bit more overtly in to people’s face and say ‘this is what we are about now as a brand’”, he told GoAuto. “That’s why it is so important. It is about what it does to help the image of the brand, more than how many cars we sell.”

Kia Motors Australian (KMAu) chief operating officer Damien Meredith confirmed that the company had more than 400 “warm-hot” enquiries for the Stinger, while about 27 keen customers had already put down deposits in local dealerships.

Mr Meredith said there was room for the Stinger in the market when the Australian-built Commodore ceased production later this year.

“Unfortunately, the locally built rear-drive cars, Commodore and Falcon, are disappearing,” he said. “We don’t think the market is disappearing, therefore if we can fill that pool that is left empty we believe that Stinger can be relatively successful. That depends on positioning, pricing, a lot of things.

“We have got to be really careful how we position it and price it to fill that pool.”

While the Stinger will be entering the declining large car segment, Mr Meredith said there was still room for growth for models like this, and he highlighted the recent success of the Picanto in Australia.

“People said to us, ‘why in the hell would you bring in Picanto it is a dying segment?’. Well last month in a market (overall) that was down eight per cent, the micro segment went up.

“You have got to make decisions for the medium and long haul. You just can’t say ‘that’s not working, don’t enter that market’.

“We have been relatively smart and relatively brave in some areas in what we have done to enter segments and say ‘yep we think this is going to work and we are going to stick with it’. Picanto was a good example of that. I believe Stinger will also be good example of that.

“If we get 10 per cent of that (market segment) I think we would all be happy.

We are confident that it can be a success if we get the positioning correct and the pricing correct.”

As GoAuto has reported, the expected starting price for the Stinger is about $40,000.

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