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Larry Printz: The car you never thought Kia would make: the 2018 Kia Stinger GT

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

BURBANK, Calif. -- We live in the age of deja vu, a time when everything seems to feel like a movie we've already seen. Usually, this occurs only in the summer, with summer repeats of television shows. Now, with the predominance of cable TV, it's something we encounter far more frequently.

Yet that's true of life in general.

We give ourselves too much credit for creating something new, when in fact it's merely a newer version of an old idea. Federal Express is little more than the Pony Express for the 21st century. Uber and Lyft are little more than taxi cabs that you dial up via an app, rather than gesturing for one on a Manhattan street corner, hoping that a driver deems it worth their while to stop. And while Tesla is an electric car, it's a form of transport that's almost as old as petroleum-powered cars. Even the hype that surrounds it, and the gullibility of journalists to unquestionably swallow it, is old.

And that's what gave me an "uh-oh; here we go again" moment with the 2018 Kia Stinger, a mid-size five-door hatchback that goes on sale in select U.S. markets in December.

Kia has long played the value card, especially when it introduced the K900 full-size luxury sled. Renamed from its Korean appellation – K9 – so as not to cast unnecessary aspersions, its original name proved prophetic -- at least when it came to sales. Opting for a full-size luxury sedan from Kia was like buying caviar at K-Mart.

"If you look purely from a volume standpoint, you would say no, it wasn't successful," said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and executive vice president for Kia Motors America in an interview held at the vehicle's U.S. launch last week.

 

So launching a gran turismo that competes with the Fatherland's finest at a lower price point seems like a movie we've seen before, and it's not entirely convincing.

That's understandable, according to Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America, who says that there's a significant difference this time around. "When we launched K900, it was $59,900. At the time, it was a huge jump because we came out with that car before the Cadenza, which was nowhere close to any of our vehicles," he said.

"By difference, the Stinger is starting at just under $32,000, which is the starting price for our turbocharged Optima. So, it is well within range of a lot of the buyers that we have today."

As well as a lot of buyers Kia doesn't have, and that's what makes it a hand well played.

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