Kia GT4 Stinger Concept Dissected: The Goods on Kia’s BRZ/FR-S Fighter.
Every year, Kia’s design team in Irvine, California, puts together a number of concept proposals leading up to auto-show season. Without fail, the proposals include a sports car. And without fail, Kia brass passes over the sports car, instructing the team instead to design a harbinger of an approved production car. But this year, sitting on the Kia stand at the Detroit auto show was the GT4 Stinger sports-car concept, its stacked headlights aimed, metaphorically speaking, at the landmark Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports cars.
Kia hasn’t approved production of the Kia GT4 Stinger Concept or anything like it, and what platform might underpin a production version is still unknown. Logic would seem to dictate that the Kia will ride on a version of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe’s rear-drive architecture, but Kia folk aren’t convinced that the Genesis platform would work for the Stinger’s smaller size; they’re hoping for a dedicated and lighter chassis. The 2874-pound concept is only 169.7 inches long on a 103.1-inch wheelbase. A Genesis Coupe is more than a foot longer, has a 7.9-inch-longer wheelbase, and weighs nearly 3400 pounds with the 2.0-liter turbo.
Under the concept’s skin is a tube-frame chassis fabricated by the Aria Group in Southern California. Weight distribution comes in at 52 percent over the front wheels, which might make the manual steering a bear at low speeds. It’s likely that the concept’s lack of power steering is intended to further drive home the idea of sports-car purity, but it’s also likely that any production car stemming from the GT4 will have power steering—and an electrically assisted unit at that.
Kia’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is connected to a six-speed manual. Designers tell us that a manual was critical to the concept, in order to emphasize the uncomplicated and elementary nature of the car they’d like to build. We’re told that, here, the engine makes about 315 horsepower.
Kia America design manager Kurt Kahl says his team’s goal was “sports-car proportions in a back-to-basics 2+2 that could be a daily driver,” thereby confirming it as a Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ fighter. Clearly rear-wheel driven, the GT4 Stinger has a long clamshell hood that slides forward and is hinged at the front. Getting the hood as low as possible was a priority and led to protruding fenders that drape over the 20-inch tires and wheels. It’s not just the hood that’s low—the concept’s overall height is under 50 inches. (The FR-S and BRZ are 50.6 inches tall; see chart below.)
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Attached to the steering column is a set of see-through instruments, including a tachometer and LED-lit ancillary gauges. And those things behind the wheel might look like paddle shifters, but manual cars don’t have paddle shifters. They’re actually controls for lights and turn signals (left) and cruise control (right). If something based on the GT4 Stinger were to make production, it would most definitely have a tamer interior—one, say, with real door handles instead of straps. We’re, um, pulling for the concept’s interior