It wasn’t too long ago that KIA was looked at as a brand that basically made rental-grade cars for customers. However, the South Korean brand has experience rapid improvement over the past decade and now makes some properly good cars. Its parent company, Hyundai, has brought quite a lot of talent in to help both brands develop some genuinely good cars. One of them is the KIA Stinger and the brand feels that it can seriously take on the BMW 440i Gran Coupe.
If you haven’t heard much about the KIA Stinger , here’s a crash course: It’s a four-door hatchback, much like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, but it’s a bit longer. It’s also rear-wheel drive, comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.3 liter V6 engine that makes 370 hp and has an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It even had chassis and suspension input from Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW M, who’s now in charge of chassis dynamics at Hyundai/KIA. So, on paper, this new KIA can certainly keep up with its Bavarian rival.
In terms of performance, that much is almost true. The KIA is a bit heavy, thanks to being a bit bigger than the 440i GC and lacking any lightweight materials the Bimmer has in its chassis and body. However, its motor still pulls strong so it can hustle from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds. The BMW 440i GC does the same spring in 4.9 seconds with only 320 hp. Weight makes a difference.
Top Gear recently tested the new KIA Stinger GT on the Nurburgring and claimed it to be a good, neutral handling car with good body control and accurate steering. Is it the last word in razor-sharpness? No but it’s also KIA’s first attempt at a rear-wheel drive sport sedan..er..hatchback. So the fact that it’s better than decent should be celebrated.
Can it compete with the BMW 440i Gran Coupe? Let’s be realistic, probably not and for a few reasons. BMW has years and years of experience doing this exact sort of car and the 440i is the better driving car. Plus, at this price point, customers want badges, prestige, technology and luxury, all things the 4 Series is a lot better at. However, if KIA can offer this at a good bit cheaper than the 4er, it could be an interesting option for a lot of customers. But I think the important bit is that KIA has genuinely made a good-to-drive rear-wheel drive sport sedan on its first attempt. The more good cars like this on the market, the better off the entire industry is. So I think we should all be rooting for KIA to do well. Competition breeds excellence, even newcomers.