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Kia undecided on next-generation Stinger

Sales of sedans are falling globally and Kia is yet to decide if there will be a successor to its turbocharged performance flagship. It may even switch to electric power.
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The Kia Stinger performance sedan has won numerous awards but it hasn’t won as many hearts as the South Korean carmaker was hoping – and now the company is deciding if it will build a successor. If a second generation Kia Stinger goes ahead, it could become an electric car.

The global slump in sedan sales has hit the Kia Stinger head on, particularly in North America where it was expected to shine.

Kia Stinger sales in Australia are also running at about half the rate forecast and demand is down compared to this time last year, although it is the second-biggest seller in the large-car class behind the Holden Commodore and ahead of the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Skoda Superb.

One of the creators of the Kia Stinger concept, Gregory Guillaume, vice president, senior chief designer of Kia’s styling studio in Germany, told Australian media in Frankfurt: “At the moment I’m not sure it’s doing as good as we hoped.”

“We never really expected to do massive volumes,” said Mr Guillaume. “It was a halo car. We did want to be successful at least in America, the market where we thought there is a chance that it works. We had very high expectations for that market and it’s very difficult to start in such segments.”

Mr Guillaume said he hopes Kia gives the Stinger sedan a second chance because it takes time to get established when a brand is new to a segment.

“The beginning of my career was at Audi,” said Mr Guillaume. “I remember... it took three generations of the A8 (limousine) to be seen on eye level to a (BMW) 7 Series or (Mercedes) S-Class. You have to persevere. If you’re entering these segments (whether) it’s premium or image vehicles, you have to give yourself a bit of time.

"The company will have to be ready to understand that. I think we should continue (even though) the sedan market is getting more and more difficult worldwide.”

Mr Guillaume feels protective of the Stinger because he and his European team helped bring the car to life. “Stinger is a European design,” he says. “From beginning to end the concept was from us, the idea of making such a car was from us, and we followed it all the way through. It’s really our baby and the one we’re most proud of.”

Mr Guillaume said some customers were still coming to terms with paying a premium price for a Kia sedan. In Germany the Stinger starts from €44,490, or $71,700 Australian. In Australia the Stinger costs from $50,490 drive-away.

“If there is some issues it’s not because of how the car looks... it’s more the positioning of where it is for a Kia,” said Mr Guillaume.

When asked if there was room for improvement in the way the Kia Stinger drives, especially when compared to its twin under the skin, the Genesis G70 (pictured below) Mr Guillaume said: “The Stinger is trying to be a Grand Turismo. The Genesis is trying to be a (BMW) 3 Series fighter.”

“We knew from the start (the Stinger) can’t be... as tight as a 3 Series or as the Genesis will be,” said Mr Guillaume. “When you have several brands in your portfolio, it’s silly to put them side by side. We aim at different targets.”

When asked when a decision on the next generation Stinger will be made, Mr Guillaume said: “We have to see if Stinger continues – first of all if it will be continuing, which I really hope so – and if we think this is the format to continue in the future.”

The chief designer then hinted the next Stinger could even be an electric-only proposition, although that too was yet to be confirmed.

“As you know there’s a lot going on with electrification, so it could be that Stinger becomes something else. I don’t know. We’re not there yet. We’ve got a bit of time,” said Mr Guillaume.