Kia’s 2018 Stinger is unlike anything the Korean automaker has ever built

When it comes to sporty cars, the name Kia doesn’t usually spring to mind. But the Korean automaker known for sensible, economical cars wants to change that.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is a sports sedan with rakish styling and what is likely the most aggressive attitude of any production Kia thus far. Debuting this week at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, it’s based on the GT concept that first appeared at the Frankfurt Auto Show way back in 2011. With a rear-wheel drive platform and fastback body, the Stinger is not only an unusual proposition for Kia, but for any non-luxury brand.

The Stinger’s exterior styling sticks pretty close to the original GT concept, meaning it’s a genuine four-door sedan, but with a fastback-style hatch instead of a trunk. The Stinger sports the classic proportions of a rear-wheel drive car, with a long hood and short rear deck. It’s actually a bit jarring to see a car with these styling elements and Kia’s signature grille up front.

The use of rear-wheel drive is significant, because it provides a better handling balance. More than anything else, that will likely help the Stinger live up to its sporty styling and the hype stoked by Kia, which isn’t shy about discussing how this car was developed at the famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany. Detracting a bit from all of that is the fact that Stinger will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will also be available as an option.

Kia will offer two engines options. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit produces 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and will be standard equipment. Buyers can also spec a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6, good for 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. Kia anticipates 0 to 62 mph in 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 167 mph with the V6.

The 2018 Kia Stinger goes on sale later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date, but if the carmaker can keep the cost of entry down, the Stinger could turn out to be a cut-price alternative to luxury sports sedans like the BMW 3 Series, or a more practical alternative to traditional sports cars like the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 twins, Mazda MX-5 Miata, or the American Ford Mustang/Chevrolet Camaro/Dodge Challenger trio.

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