Despite a senior figure behind the soon-to-launch Kia Stinger telling CarAdvice – a mere three weeks ago – that the manufacturer had “no goals” to introduce either a sporty or premium sub-brand into the fold, Kia has decided to stick a brand-new badge onto its four-door sports sedan, in an effort to help differentiate it within its home market of Korea.
Officially unveiled at this week’s 2017 Seoul motor show - attached to the front-engined all- or rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger - the new ‘E’ emblem is, so far, reserved exclusively for Kia’s domestic enterprise.
However, regardless of Kia chief designer Gregory Guillaume telling CarAdvice, “If that’s the right thing to do for the domestic market, it has nothing to do with us,” the man responsible for penning the Stinger also expressed some mixed emotions about the decision.
“You’d have to ask the Korean marketing people [what the thinking was behind the introduction of the new ‘E’ emblem],” Guillaume said.
“They believe they need to have a special, specific emblem for the car here in this market. But this will be the only market where the car will come with that emblem – everywhere else in the world it will be a Kia.”
Not involved in the design of the new emblem nor the decision to introduce the new badge, Guillaume revealed that the whole ‘E’ project was a locally led one.
“For us, it should be a Kia all over the world. We believe that it’s more helpful for the brand to make all the cars as Kia.”
“We believe that Kia, as a brand, is elastic enough or flexible enough to be able to deliver a car like the Picanto, like the Stinger, like the Sorento, and it’s actually more beneficial for the brand itself.”
Guillaume’s views aside, Kia says the Stinger won't be the only E-badged model to launch in Korea, with a successor to the brand’s large, luxury flagship, the rear-wheel-drive K9, to follow – albeit sporting a new name.
Kia representatives made clear at the Stinger’s home unveiling at the 2017 Seoul motor show, that the ‘E’ range of vehicles simply represent a ‘premium line’, rather than a separate ‘sub-brand’.
And while, at this stage, Kia looks likely to keep the ‘E’ moniker to within its domestic market, as Guillaume says, the Korean marque has already proven to be an ‘elastic’ and ‘flexible’ brand. Watch this space…
The sister brand of fellow Korean-based car maker Hyundai, Kia says it sold 535,000 units globally in 2016, with local data indicating Australian sales accounted for 42,668 of them.