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Detroit show: Kia considering GT4 Stinger soft-top
Kia boss says he’d like to see a convertible version of show-stopping GT4 Stinger
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16 Jan 2014
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT
KIA is contemplating a soft-top version of the GT4 Stinger coupe that this week wowed show-goers in Detroit.
If the sexy three-door coupe were given the go-ahead, Kia Motors Corporation president Peter Schreyer says he would be inclined to engineer a convertible offshoot as well.
A decision on green-lighting the GT4 Stinger balances on critical and public reaction to the concept car that is currently on show to visitors at the North American International Auto Show in Motor City.
While the Kia has clearly been influenced by the success of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins, Mr Schreyer admitted that the Mazda MX-5 was the inspiration for the project.
“We have not yet worked on it. But I could imagine it,” he revealed to GoAuto in Detroit this week.
“Of course, it is pretty obvious how (this car) would look with a soft top. I would do it anyway. I would always do it with a soft top.”
The German designer added that most of the senior managers at Kia Motors did not know of the GT4 Stinger project until his US design team pulled the covers off in a 1970s movie-themed unveiling.
“We usually just go ahead in design and suggest something (like this concept), and then top management see it and have to decide,” he said.
“And today is the first time they’ve seen it, so I don’t know their reaction.
“We have to wait now to see how the reaction is, what top management thinks and how they react to it. But from a technical point of view it is realistic.”
With the availability of the first-generation Hyundai Genesis rear-wheel drive platform to base the GT4 Stinger on, Mr Schreyer added that his team seized the opportunity to render an inexpensive sports car.
“Basically the underpinnings are the Genesis,” he said.
“We always wanted to make a little sports car and finally we’re allowed to try one out. I think something like this would have potential as a product, and it would suit our product range very well, and make it spicy and give it some character.”
The decision to follow the Honda CR-Z in offering hatchback practicality is said to help give the GT4 Stinger the best chance possible of achieving production.
According to Mr Schreyer, that’s why it was decided that forsaking the boot might make the case for a convertible conversion slightly more difficult.
“If we made it as a 2+2 notchback the boot would have a very small opening, making it impractical,” Mr. Schreyer said, adding that this would limit its broad appeal.
“But if it does come as a convertible it would need a different kind of solution.”
On the subject of feasibility, there are a number of design-related features that are unlikely to be seen in any production iteration for the time being.
These include the GT4 Stinger’s massive wheels, levered door handles, all-LED headlights and crosshatched semi-transparent A-pillars that improve vision.
“(The A-pillars) still need to be properly researched and engineered. I don’t think they are unrealistic but they would need a lot of development,” Mr Schreyer said. “But I don’t expect to see any problems.”
Using off-the-shelf parts such as the old Hyundai Genesis platform including its double wishbone suspension, as well as the 2.0-litre turbo petrol powerplant from the Kia Optima 2.0T, would dramatically decrease the lead-time to production.
“Once it gets a green light it might take – I don’t know – two to three years? We still haven’t done any feasibility work on it.
“But my understanding is that there is nothing about it that is impossible.”
The whole project has been lightning-fast in its gestation, in fact, with the first sketches only begun last February.
The Stinger adjunct, by the way, came about after the design team’s desire for a yellow hue, which in turn had the small number of people involved in the top-secret project dubbing it bee-like. The GT4 prefix, on the other hand, pays homage to a European sports car touring race series.
A former Audi designer, Mr Schreyer worked on the original TT concept of the mid-‘90s.
Stating that he has form creating exciting concept cars that see the light of production, one rival stylist suggested to GoAuto that the TT’s stylistic signature is all over the Kia.
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