Calif. — For Kia, the 2018 Kia Stinger is as much a marketing
exercise as it is a product launch; a vehicle meant to close one
chapter while opening a new one for the brand.
for years we built so-so quality products that were really
nondescript. They were low-priced vehicles with good fuel economy
and that’s what we were known for," admits Michael Sprague,
chief operating officer and executive vice president of Kia Motors
America. "There was nothing special about them. People couldn’t
establish that emotional connection with the brand."
expects that to change with the Stinger, despite being a challenging
time for luxury sedans. Sales in the Stinger’s segment declined
9.6 percent through October as buyers turn to crossovers and SUVs
over sedans. This makes Kia’s decision to field a premium midsize
five-door hatchback at the price of a premium compact sedan look
smart, even if Kia still has a stigma to overcome.
this will dispel any negativity about the brand that people still
write about. There are a lot of people who still remember the old
Kia, pre-2008," said Sprague.
The car in
question, the 2018 Kia Stinger, is modeled on midsized premium
European GTs, but offered at a premium compact price. Better yet,
the car comes with European credentials. Its design was overseen by
Kia’s design chief Peter Schreyer, formerly of Audi, at Kia’s
Frankfurt design studios. Meanwhile its handling was tweaked by Kia’s
newest hire, Albert Biermann, former vice president of BMW's M
the whole package now; the design, the technology, the safety, the
quality, the value, and the performance," said Sprague.
For a brand
known for its economical front-drive sedans, a true European GT
should do much to enhance Kia’s image. And unlike the launch of
the 2014 Kia K900, a car that cost twice that of any Kia model
offered at the time, the Stinger makes more sense within its
launched K900, it came out at $59,900, which was nowhere close to
any of our vehicles," said Orth Hedrick, vice president,
product planning, Kia Motors America. "By difference, the
Stinger is starting at just under $32,000, which is the starting
price for our turbocharged Optima. So, it was well within range of a
lot of the buyers that we have today, and I think it’s more of a
the Stinger’s compelling value proposition will draw a lot of
interest, citing the Audi A5, with which the Stinger competes, as an
example. "It’s all-wheel drive. It’s got a four-cylinder
turbo, and it’s $52,000. That’s our max price with our V6 and
365 horsepower. The A5 is a beautiful car, but you pay for it."
Kia officials know that the Stinger is as much a marketing exercise
to change buyers’ perceptions, as it is a product launch.
"That’s why we’re doing things unconventionally, doing
things that we’ve never done before," said Sprague, who
revealed plans to set up Stinger boutiques in eight malls
nationwide. Kia wants to reach consumers in ways beyond dealership
visits. "We’re trying to connect with people in
unconventional ways so that we break down those barriers that they
may have put up."
thinks they will succeed.
the Stinger is really going to provide an inflection point for the