Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Kia gets it right with the GT4 Stinger

THINGS are looking grim in America at the moment.

While you were busy worrying about high tides and gale force winds, people on the Eastern Seaboard have been enduring something which Michael Fish types call a polar vortex, nudging temperatures to so comically cold that the Niagra Falls actually froze. People haven’t been going to work. They’ve uploading footage of freshly boiled water turning instantly turning into snow onto YouTube instead. 

As a result I was surprised anyone actually braved the bitter conditions for a trip to this year’s Detroit Motor Show, but those who did have been rewarded with an historic moment in motoring. A Korean company unveiling a genuinely gorgeous and exciting car.

This, as far as I’m aware, has only happened twice before in the entire history of South Korea’s car industry, making it a sort of solar eclipse of motoring. The first was back in 1995, when Hyundai launched the Coupe, which caught the car world napping because it was curvaceous and charismatic when everything else it made at the time – the Accent, the Sonata and so on – was at best bland and at worst visual pollution. Then, in 2008, it launched a rear-wheel-drive GT car called the Genesis, but none of us ever got to see it because the company has never sold it in this country.

The rest of the world launches cars designed solely with the wow factor in mind every other week – we’ve got the F-type, Italy’s got the Alfa 4C, Japan’s got the Toyota GT86. Korea’s upped its game lately with attention-grabbers like the Kia Soul and the Hyundai i40, but its ‘wow’ cars, the sort of thing your eight-year-old son Blu-tacks to his bedroom wall, are few and far between.

That’s why I really hope Kia gets its latest concept car into production. Even without the freezing Detroit weather outside, it is a truly cool car.

For starters, the name is spot on – ladies and gents, meet the Kia GT4 Stinger, which makes it sound like a fighter plane. It also might only have a 2.0 litre engine, but it’s turbocharged, and chucks 315bhp through a six speed gearbox at the back wheels. Yet the thing which really stops you in the GT4 Stinger’s tracks is the way it looks, which is stunning.  It’s all bulging wheelarches and narrow windows, and it looks like it means business.

Think of it as Kia’s answer to the Nissan 370Z or – if you’re a bit older – as a sort of Korean reinvention of the Ford Capri. Get making it, chaps!

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