You may have heard about Kia’s first ever performance car lately, the Kia Stinger GT, given how much it has been talked about – and praised. Especially in the top GT version the Stinger is quite good-looking, drives well and is equipped with a twin-turbo, 370 hp six-cylinder, ensuring it delivers in terms of performance as well. That’s all great, but not even Kia expects the Stinger GT to sell in the tens of thousands, mostly given it’s a four-door sedan – and that it’s a Kia.
This last point is where it gets interesting. Because it’s neither for the engine, nor the looks or the road manners that the GT has received most praise – it’s for the interior, which I had the opportunity to explore myself recently. I can only confirm what has been said by others: if you didn’t know what car you’re in, I guarantee that you would guess on something firmly in the high-end segment. From the leather dashboard over the metal applications to the equipment and the quality of the seats, there is nothing that would make you think you’re sitting in a Kia, except for the logo on the steering wheel.
If you had taken a 400hp engine and put it in a Hyundai, Kia or Skoda five years ago, it would still not have made it a serious contender in the high-end segment, too big were the differences in ride and interior quality. But now we have come to the stage where technological and production progress is such that a brand such as Kia can deliver a car that looks good, drives well and is fully specced, but still at least EUR 20.000 cheaper than any comparable Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
What’s the value of a brand? I believe we’ll find out over the next few years, but the just got a whole lot tougher for the traditional premium brands!