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The mysterious Kia ‘E’ badge that surfaced in European patent documents has debuted on the new Stinger sedan at the Seoul motor show this week, while the company’s Korean website gives a loose explanation on what the new symbol actually means.

Although it was previously thought the new badge could hint at an upcoming electric sub-brand, it appears the ‘E’ branding will initially be worn by the Korean-market Stinger liftback.

Loosely translating the words on Kia’s Korean website, the new emblem “symbolises maximised performance driving with the engine arrangement of rear-wheel drive”.

“‘Engineered by Excellence’ are the core themes. Exclusive (for a select few), Exquisite (sophisticated and sensitive), Evolutionary (constantly evolving) presents the direction of the new premium line-up of Kia.”

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The ‘E’ emblem will only be worn by Stingers delivered in Kia’s home market of Korea, with the rest of the world getting the standard ‘KIA’ badge.

But why? Speaking with Yonhap News in South Korea, a spokesperson for Kia said: “The models unveiled in the two motor shows (Detroit and Geneva) were each aimed at attracting local customers in the United States and Europe”.

“But the company has yet to decide on what kind of engine models it will launch in the domestic market.”

So, it appears using the Kia badge abroad will attract people to the brand with a performance-oriented model, while the approach at home will be to showcase a new premium direction.

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Considering Kia’s Korean arm notes the combination of themes including performance driving, rear-wheel drive, exclusivity and evolutionary, suggests at home it’s undergoing a similar transformation to when parent company Hyundai first revealed the Genesis luxury sedan a few years ago – which has since become its own sub-brand.

However, design chief for Kia, Gregory Guillaume, recently told CarAdvice at the 2017 Geneva motor show that the company has “no goals to do a premium sub-brand” to compete with Genesis.

For now, it’s probably just for the Korean market, but could this mean Kia has more rear-wheel drive models in the works – let’s hope so.

Thanks to CarAdvice reader Rob for the tip!

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