Hearkening back to the glory days of purebred, affordable sports cars, Kia Motors America today unveiled the brand’s most aggressive concept car ever when wraps came off the GT4 Stinger at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Kia’s eye-catching design language moves in a bold new direction with the introduction of the GT4 Stinger. The concept pushes the boundaries of performance with a rear-drive 2+2 sports car that places man and machine in harmony on the road or track. It comes as no surprise that the GT4 Stinger is the wild style child of Kia’s California design team, home to its 2012 predecessor, the Track’ster concept. And like the Track’ster, the GT4 Stinger’s racy appeal is more than skin deep.
Emboldened by the brand’s on-track success in the Pirelli World Challenge racing series with a pair of turbocharged, GTS-class Optimas, Kia’s U.S. design team approached the GT4 Stinger project with an eye toward weight reduction, functionality and pure driving enjoyment. The concept shuns the luxury trappings of a traditional Grand Touring car and embraces the elemental experience of truly engaging with the vehicle. “If anyone were to ask if Kia has the credibility to build a car like the GT4 Stinger,” noted Kearns. “I would simply point out that Kia races – and wins – against some of the world’s most legendary performance brands.”
Beneath the low wedge of the GT4 Stinger’s hood resides a tuned version of Kia’s proven 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) four-cylinder engine putting out an impressive 315 horsepower. “Our Optima racecars use the same engine and can produce more than 400 horsepower,” said Kearns. “So why not infuse our concept with the kind of power that will make people take notice?”
That power is put to the ground via a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels, which are wrapped in 275/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires. Staggered 235/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zeros nestle beneath the front fenders, ensuring loads of corner-carving grip. Custom 20-inch aluminum center-lock wheels feature carbon fiber inserts for strength and weight reduction. Tucked inside the massive wheels are Brembo Gran Turismo two-piece 15-inch cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers with plenty of stopping power.
Underpinning the GT4 Stinger’s sculpted “Ignition Yellow” body is a custom chassis with independent double wishbone suspension. With a shorter wheelbase (103.1 inches) and overall length (169.7 inches) than a Forte sedan, a width (74.4 inches) greater than a Cadenza, and a swooping roofline nearly nine inches lower (49.2 inches) than a Rio subcompact, the GT4 Stinger cuts a menacing figure. It tips the scales at a scant 2,874 pounds, and weight distribution is spread nearly perfectly at 52 percent up front and 48 percent at the rear. The GT4 Stinger also features a quick-ratio steering rack for direct feedback and uncompromised control.
In silhouette, the GT4 Stinger is simple yet powerful. The latest iteration of the signature Kia grille rests low to the ground for maximum engine cooling and cold-air induction. The grille surround glows white and features a multi-layered, satin-black border, a theme found throughout the car. Flanking the grille on both sides are vertical LED headlamps, and front-brake cooling vents intricately molded into the bumper provide a clean, smooth appearance.
A carbon fiber front splitter mounted below the bumper provides added down force for the car at high speed to keep the GT4 Stinger’s front tires firmly planted to the tarmac.
The long hood gently rises to meet the cowl. Two chrome accent pieces add visual interest to the otherwise ripple-less pond of Ignition Yellow sheet metal. The hood closely embraces the front wheel arches, creating two protruding muscular fenders above the front tires. The result is a pronounced edge at the vehicle’s shoulders that eventually becomes the belt line.
Continuing around the car, the transparent A-pillars provide a more than 270-degree view from the driver’s seat. The layered slots cut into the pillars reduce weight while improving outward visibility. Paying homage to the iconic Soul, the greenhouse design provides an aggressive side profile. “It’s as if the GT4 Stinger is wearing wrap-around sunglasses,” notes Kearns. Similar to the Soul, the roof of the GT4 Stinger appears to “float” from the C-pillars. Along the rocker panels are satin black accent pieces with integrated functional cooling ducts to enhance air flow to the rear brakes.
Around back, the body widens to cover the large 275-series Pirelli rubber. The glass hatch opens to reveal a built-in storage compartment and rear strut-tower brace. The LED taillights illuminate from inside the outer edge of a blacked-out panel just above the dual exhaust ports in the rear bumper.
While there are currently no plans to bring the concept to production, Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concept that preceded them, and the GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future.