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Kia Stinger not chasing 3 Series: designer

Style council: The Stinger will appeal to buyers looking for a grand tourer as opposed to a dynamic, fast mid-sizer, according to chief designer Gregory Guillaume.

Original Maserati Ghibli in mind for Kia designer when creating Stinger sports sedan

Kia logo9 Mar 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

KIA’S Stinger sports sedan was not developed to match the performance of prestige German models such as the BMW 3 Series but to be more of a Gran Turismo – and a showcase of the South Korean brand’s technical capabilities – according to chief designer Gregory Guillaume.

The rear-wheel-drive Stinger made its European debut at the Geneva motor show this week and will sprint into Australian showrooms by the end of this year in 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and 3.3-litre turbo V6 guise.

In Australia, the Stinger will be pitched at buyers who might have previously bought a Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon but will soon have few options – apart from the Chrysler 300 – with the demise of local vehicle manufacturing.

Mr Guillaume, who is head of design at Kia Motors Europe, told Australian journalists in Geneva that the company’s focus during development was more on creating a grand tourer as opposed to a Euro-baiting high-performance sedan.

“That’s a bit why we decided to go for the Gran Turismo approach,” he said.

“The project started with the GT concept from 2011. That concept was a result of a question that we were asked by headquarters – if we were going to go into front-engine rear-wheel-drive car in that segment and in that size, what should Kia do? “The reference in that segment worldwide is BMW 3 Series. Everybody wants to beat that always. We said from start we don’t believe that is what Kia should be doing. With us it should be more about style and more dynamic-looking. And we started to go for this modern interpretation of a GT.”

Mr Guillaume said his inspiration for the Stinger came from his childhood dream cars as a young man growing up in France.

“I always had in mind iconic GTs of the early ’70s – this Italian Gran Turismo.

I had in mind one car – the original Maserati Ghibli. Raw power, fast, but it’s not what it’s about. It’s elegance, it is style.

“I grew up in France. I had in my mind those cars that were the ones you would see on the motorway going from Paris to St Tropez. You work hard in Paris, go and have fun in Cote d’Azur. We were looking for the modern interpretation of that.”

Mr Guillaume said the decision to make the Stinger a big comfortable cruiser meant that it would not compete dynamically with the predominantly European mid-size set.

“A GT is about a long journey – yes, spirited driving, but a long journey. You need comfort, you need style so that’s why we went for that car,” he said.

“It has a much longer wheelbase than the 3 Series or any car in that segment actually, because you give occupants space. Not so much vertical space, but knee space. When you sit in the back of a Stinger, you are not cramped, you feel quite comfortable, you could do a long journey.

“Automatically, if you make those choices you are not going be as competitive in handling as a four-door, more compact solution like a 3 Series, but that was the choice we made. It was the right thing for us to do.”

Mr Guillaume penned numerous sportscar proposals earlier in his career for Audi and Volkswagen, and noted the irony of Stinger being the sportiest car to reach production under his watch.

“It is probably the sportiest car I have done in production in my whole career,” he said.

“I worked a long time at Audi and Volkswagen and God knows how many proposals of coupes I have done that just didn’t make it. The one that makes it is a Kia.

How cool is that?”

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