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Kia could follow up the Stinger with a stand-alone performance sub-brand

2018 Kia Stinger
Introduced, somewhat unexpectedly, last year, the Stinger showed the world a new side of Kia. It’s a sporty, vibrant facet many doubted the company had. It’s not just a one-off, though; the South Korean firm will keep the momentum going by sending every member of its lineup to the gym. Decision-makers haven’t ruled out launching a full-blown performance sub-brand, either.

“We’re still trying to figure that out. We haven’t quite sorted it out. We’re exploring what that would look like,” Orth Hedrick, Kia Motors America’s vice president of product planning, told Digital Trends at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.

If it receives the proverbial green light, the sub-brand would exist under the same umbrella as Kia. It would prepare sportier variants of more mainstream Kia cars, much like how Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz operate. The Stinger would be the brand’s obvious first choice, it’s already a performance car, but a hot-rodded Sportage would make sense, too. It would fight head-to-head against the Ford Edge ST. It’s too early to talk about stand-alone models, though.

Sister company set the course when it launched N, its own sport-oriented sub-division. Its first model, a Golf-sized hot hatch named i30 N, won’t make the trip to the United States. Its second model, the 275-horsepower Veloster N, will reach showrooms in the coming months. Albert Biermann, the former head of BMW’s M division, helped ensure both models offer world-class handling and performance. He also played a huge role in transforming the Stinger (pictured) from a wild concept car to a production model.

Hedrick didn’t reveal when Kia will decide whether to build on the Stinger with a performance sub-brand. Even if the division never materializes, Kia will continue its performance push by offering buyers the option of selecting a sporty trim level.

“Our general idea is to try to be young at heart. We have a performance line in each of our vehicles; we call it SX but we’re going to change it over. We’re thinking of building it as one of our trims but we haven’t made a decision yet. We have to put the business case together to see if there are enough people who would be interested in it,” he explained.

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