Kia is a dramatically different brand from the one it was only a few years ago. Gone are the days when producing cheap and not particularly cheerful hatchbacks and SUVs was the South Korean manufacturer’s raison d’être.
This brand repositioning is in no small part thanks to a step change in its approach to car design, a shift brought about by the likes of design boss Peter Schreyer and European design chief Gregory Guillaume, as well as a more fastidious approach to improving the perceived quality of its vehicles.
And when you arrive at the subject of this week’s road test, a new, third element in this evolutionary process becomes evident.
Not only does this striking grand tourer double down on the aforementioned characteristics of style and quality, but with a rearwheel-drive platform it shows Kia also wants to be taken seriously as a manufacturer of impressively engineered, engaging driver’s cars.
With so much riding on its success as a builder of this next step of Kia’s brand, the Stinger understandably faced a lengthy gestation period. Six years passed between the unveiling of its forerunner, the GT Concept, at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show and the premiere of the finished product at the Detroit show last year.
During that time, Kia hired Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW M division fame, to lead the Stinger’s test and high-performance development regime, and spent hours honing its new flagship on the gruelling Nürburgring Nordschleife.
There’s no denying the Stinger is a brazen statement of intent, particularly when you consider the fact that it’s the first time the manufacturer has put a model into production with the knowledge that it likely won’t turn a profit.
Has the Stinger’s execution matched the rhetoric behind its development, though? Let’s find out.