Detroit Motor Show – No longer content with simply providing the world with solid mass market cars, Kia is now gunning for the premium German carmakers with this sporty and powerful new rear-wheel-driven fastback saloon called the Stinger.

Kia describes it as an “authentic grand turismo”, designed not only for enthusiastic driving but also to provide a comfortable ride for five occupants. Inspired by the Kia GT concept of 2011, the Stinger is larger than German compact executive rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, with its wheelbase even outsizing the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

With typical rear-wheel drive proportions, including a long bonnet and prominent shoulders, the Stinger has serious muscle car presence, and it has the power to cash those cheques, particularly in the case of the top model, fitted with a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6. Kia hasn’t finalised the numbers yet, but is targeting outputs of 268kW and 510Nm, putting it into contention with Merc’s C43 AMG, and theoretically getting it from 0-100km/h in around 5.1 seconds.

Kia promises that there will eventually be a wide range of engines and drivetrain configurations, but for now the only other power option available will be a 2-litre turbopetrol with estimated outputs of 188kW and 353Nm. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed autobox with flappy paddles. Kia will also offer an all-wheel drive option in icier markets.

While maintaining that its engineers have achieved a nice balance between ride comfort and handling, Kia has put considerable effort into the latter, even going as far as poaching Albert Biermann from BMW’s M Division and testing the car extensively around the Nurburgring. Multi-link rear suspension is a given here and the Stinger is also fitted with adaptive dampers.

As for electronic driving aids, the car is fitted with auto-braking with pedestrian detection, an adaptive cruise control system featuring traffic assist, Driver Attention Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Other driver-focused gadgets include a height-adjustable colour head-up display and a TFT screen that tells you your lap times, G-forces and so forth.

The cabin promises to seal the luxury deal with Nappa leather seats featuring air-cell bladders in the driver’s seatback, a colour touch-screen infotainment system and a range of high-end audio systems, including an optional 720 watt Harman/Kardon system with QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology.

So when can I have one? According to Kia SA, the Stinger is currently under investigation for possible introduction locally but no decisions have yet been made and if it does get the go-ahead, it's unlikely that we'll see it before the end of this year.

IOL Motoring