The Kia GT4 Stinger concept is further proof the Korean brand is determined to spread its appeal beyond value shoppers to driving enthusiasts.
Kia has unveiled its “most aggressive sports car” at the 2014 Detroit motor show – a concept created by the company’s Californian design studio also responsible for the 2012 Track’ster.
The GT4 Stinger is ready for production, according to Kia, though for now it says the rear-wheel-drive remains a concept "harking back to the glory days of purebred, affordable sports cars".
Kia's compact coupe sits on a customised platform and measures 4.3 metres long, with a wheelbase shorter than the axle-to-axle length of the company's Cee'd hatchback but wider body (1890mm) than an Optima medium car. It sits just 1250mm high.
Under the bonnet flanked by bulging wheel arches lies a tuned version of Kia's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with a quoted power output of 235kW.
Power is distributed to the large 20-inch wheels wrapped in wide, low-profile Pirelli P Zero rubber via a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. The front tyres are narrower (235mm v 275mm).
The Kia GT4 Stinger weighs a healthy 1304kg, with a stripped-out interior helping to stave off the kilos.
Inside, there's no audio system, door handles make way for (911 GT3-style) red pull straps, and there's no carpet.
There are two rear seats but legroom looks extremely cramped judging by the single interior photo. The rear glass hatch opens to reveal a storage compartment and a strut-tower brace that aids stiffness.
"Driving enjoyment was the number one priority in designing the GT4 Stinger,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer at the Kia Design Center America. "It’s a 2+2 sports car that can turn heads as a daily driver while also being right at home on the track. It’s about purity, simplicity and timelessness. The GT4 Stinger is a throwback to days when driving a car was a visceral experience that wasn’t muted by electronic gimmickry.”
A production version of the Kia GT sporty sedan concept is expected to get a showroom nod ahead of the GT4.
Kia’s first-ever hot-hatch, the 150kW/265Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre Kia Proceed GT, is due to arrive in Australian showrooms in March.