Kia Australia believes the new rear-wheel drive Stinger has what it takes to win over Holden Commodore SS buyers who will find themselves without an Australian-made option from the end of 2017, though there's no V8.
Revealed today in Detroit, the Stinger liftback is almost as long as the Commodore or Falcon, and comes available with a 272kW/510Nm 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6, an eight-speed auto, independent rear suspension and limited-slip diff.
With projected pricing for the range-topper of about $50,000 when it launches in September (and around $40,000 for the 190kW/353Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four version), the Stinger has the right mix of design, luxury and performance to broaden Kia’s buyer base.
The top-spec GT model’s claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.1 seconds (that’s likely for the AWD not coming to Australia, pointing to about 5.4s for the RWD) and $50k price makes it a genuine on-paper nemesis for the Holden, soon to be replaced by an Opel-based AWD V6 import with 230kW.
The Commodore SS comes with a 304kW/570Nm 6.2-litre V8 and costs between $44,990 and $49,190 plus on-road costs, though it comes with a manual option and in a wagon body type, for those who don't want the sedan — unlike the Kia.
Nevertheless, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith believes the Stinger has what it takes to make a dent in this part of the market, calling the car “a game changer” for the brand, saying the company would sell as many as supply would allow.
“Firstly, they’re [Australian-made muscle cars) disappearing, but that market isn't. And the buyers aren’t.
“What we have to do is, we have to be a logical fit to replace them. That’s up to us, how we position and price the Stinger, and to make sure we do everything that gives the car the opportunity to replace what’s been a historic performance area, locally produced.
“It’s a challenge, but I think we can get some good results out of it.
“… I know that there’s a view that people who drive Commodore V8s and high-performance Falcons are bogans. I’m not sure about that. I’ve got a few mates who are solicitors and financial planners who drive them.”
Kia Australia said it was exploring all options to sell the Stinger, and was confident it would become a much-needed halo model. However, don’t hold your breath for a Supercars touring car team, at least for the time being.
Meredith said anything was on the table, but we understand a racing pitch is a while away, if it happens at all.