The Kia Stinger GT’s Australian-market suspension tuning will focus on maximising driving character and response, with product from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and even Lexus cited as key benchmarks, as much as the beloved Commodore SS.
Due in Australia around September — before any other export market — the rear-wheel-drive Stinger liftback is being billed as a halo car for the brand with genuine volume potential that can fill a gap left behind by the outgoing big Aussie-made sedans.
Like all Kia product, it is getting substantial ‘localisation’ work done on the suspension to suit our market — in other words to make it firmer and potentially louder than the models sold in Korea and the US, and similar to what Kia UK is planning.
This includes giving the car a typical RWD character, meaning a propensity to get a little loose under heavy throttle, plus ample feel-and-feedback through the wheel. Given the global program was led by ex-BMW M chief Albert Biermann, expect nothing less.
Part of the Australian work could even include local exhaust tweaks — pending cost viability. We understand that several Kia regions worldwide are keenly aware that the GT’s 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 needs a snappier, more cracking note than test models offer.
Noise aside, the flagship Stinger GT’s 3.3-litre twin-turbo makes 272kW of power and 510Nm of torque, and as we revealed a few weeks back gives the roughly Commodore-sized car a claimed zero to 100km/h time of just 4.9 seconds in RWD form.
This claim matches the locally-produced Commodore SS-V – which features a much larger 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated ‘LS3’ V8 producing 304kW of power and 570Nm of torque – while also beating the 5.2-second target set when the Kia was revealed.
It’ll be mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters, and also sport a mechanical limited slip differential. A smaller 190kW/353Nm 2.0-litre turbo offering will also be available, though 75 per cent of Aussie demand will be for the six.
As with the suspension and steering, up to five different shift patterns may be selected through the vehicle’s electronic drive-mode system. Throttle mapping is also adjusted accordingly. The 3.3-litre V6 is shod with ultra-high performance rubber; 225/40R-19 in front and 255/35R-19 at the rear. Vented Brembo disc brakes (350mm) are standard.
Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith said the company "couldn't help but be excited" about the Stinger GT's arrival, adding that positioning was (obviously) vital.
We'd imagine a 2.0-litre price in the mid-to-high $40k range, and two twin-turbo V6 variants topping out around the mid-to-high $50k area may be about right.
Unlike Europe, where the car will be positioned as a cut-price German rival, Meredith said Kia Australia would take a different tack. Here, it will go after the Commodore SS-V market.
"We believe Australia is unique in regards to the history of its local manufacturing, we are of the view there's a pool there that has been left by closing manufacturing, and we think we can fill that.
"Whether it's a wading pool or Olympic pool, we don't know yet!
"But to give you an idea we will either have 2-3 variants of the 2.0 and 3.3, and we certainly won't be silly with our pricing."
Volume-wise, Meredith said early supply would limit the company to about 200-300 units per month, but expect about 400 sales per month in 2018, 300 or so of which will be the GT flagship.
"Isn't it great to have a halo you can get some volume out of?" he asked, rhetorically, adding that the company held about 30 orders already and was taking details of a few hundred prospective buyers per week leading up to the launch.
It sports classic RWD proportions, with a short front overhang. The brand-signature ‘Tiger’ grille has been sharpened, and sits above a diffuser with distinctive fins, and is beset by angry headlights with LEDs.
Beyond this is a long, sculpted bonnet with twin vents, leading into a coupe-style sportback roof. The doors sport strong shoulder lines, leading to a long rear overhang with muscular haunches and a distinctive light treatment and rear diffuser.
There’s more than a subtle nod to Mercedes-Benz in the vents and fascia layout, right? The layout is contemporary, with a floating tablet screen sitting above a series of infotainment and climate/ventilation controls.
There’s heavy use of real leather trims and metal, while the seats in higher grades are trimmed in proper Nappa hide.
A colour TFT screen between the analogue gauges relays performance data such as cornering G-forces, lap times and engine-oil temperature, along with ancillary information such as the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.
The Stinger’s cargo area is also larger than many in its class, according to Kia, with enough space for full-size luggage or golf bags, and a power boot available.
Features on offer (depending on spec, final Australian details not confirmed) include AEB with pedestrian detection, full-stop radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert. Other tech includes a head-up display, wireless charging pad, and a premium 15-speaker 720 watt Harmon/Kardon audio system for the top-spec variant/s.
Development of the Stinger’s dynamics was centred at the Nurburgring, led by former BMW M Division executive Albert Biermann.
At 4831mm long, the Stinger is 160mm shorter than the current Commodore, though it’s almost as wide. The 2906mm wheelbase is also only 9mm shorter than the Holden’s, promising good rear legroom.
The chassis comprises 55 per cent ultra-high strength steel made by Hyundai/Kia, promises the necessary body stiffness for sharp handling and good NVH suppression.
The suspension is a MacPherson strut arrangement at the front and a multi-link independent rear. The Stinger is also the first Kia with adjustable dampers. This same set of driving modes also adjust the resistance programmed into the electric-assisted power steering.