The Borgward THE LAST TIME ANYONE GOT EXCITED ABOUT A 9.5-minute lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Hermann Lang was popping corks, having grabbed pole at the 1939 German Grand Prix. Concept Is Here To Revive A Reputation For Beauty
Kia’s other weapon is engineer Albert Biermann, a 32-year veteran of BMW, the last seven of which he spent at BMW’s M division. He was lured to Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, by what we assume to be a sizable paycheck as well as a new challenge: make a Korean car drive well enough to persuade you out of your BMW 4-series Gran Coupe.
“This has been a great opportunity for us to do something really different, to really surprise people,” Biermann says.
A classic front-engined, rear-drive sedan—all-wheel drive is optional—the Stinger comes in two levels of sting, each with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The base model has a 255-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. The Stinger GT has a 365-hp, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, the same one as in the Genesis G80 Sport.
Biermann is at pains to point out that the Stinger is not meant to be a track car, nor a full-blown M rival—just a well-rounded sport sedan that doesn’t feel out of its element if you happen to stumble across 12.9 miles of one-way toll road in Germany’s Eifel Mountains.
Biermann’s team is working on an electronically controlled rear differential to improve the agility. That’ll be a bonus, not a Band-Aid. More important are Biermann’s ideas of what doesn’t belong on a sport sedan. “No run-flat tires and no flat-bottom steering wheels. Not on my watch.”
The all-wheel-drive car sparkled a little less. It’s still solid, still more fun than an Audi A5 Sportback—another clear rival—but not as sweet to steer, as eager to turn, or as playful as its simpler brother. Blame those front driveshafts and a curb weight edging dangerously close to 4000 pounds.
If there’s a weak link, at least within the entirely unnatural confines of the ‘Ring, it’s the GT’s engine and gearbox combination. The torque-converter automatic, developed by Hyundai, isn’t as responsive as an Audi’s dual-clutch ’box, and the engine sounds a little bland.
Those looks and the attractive price are what will draw in most buyers. What has us hooked, however, is this first dance on the Nürburgring. We’ll have to wait until later in the year to get a fuller picture of the Stinger, but on this evidence, the message is clear: If you’re in the market for a 4-series Gran Coupe, you should check your brand prejudice and take this car seriously. BMW and Audi will, if they have any sense.