The designer of the Kia Stinger has revealed that the BMW 3 Series was benchmarked for its dynamic development, but ultimately Kia’s engineers decided to move the landmark new model in a different direction.
Speaking with Australian media at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Stinger's designer Gregory Guillaume told Australian media that the project started as a ‘what if?’ proposition from Kia management, asking how a rear wheel drive vehicle in the segment might fit with the brand.
“We started, and the reference in that segment worldwide is 3 Series BMW, it’s the drivers, the best," Mr Guillaume explained.
“Everybody wants to beat that always, and we said from the start we don’t believe that’s what Kia should be doing.”
Instead, Mr Guillaume had a much loftier, and more glamorous target in mind.
“I always had in mind iconic GTs of the early 70s: Elegance, power and speed, this Italian Gran Turismo. I had in mind, one car always, it was the original Maserati Ghibli,” Mr Guillaume revealed.
“For me I grew up in France, and I always had in mind those cars were the ones that you would see on the motorway going from Paris to Saint-Tropez. Work hard in Paris, go and have fun in the Cote d’Azur.”
The resulting design led Kia to a more modern interpretation of the classic GT, blending practical solutions, like a lift back tailgate, with typical low-roof, long-wheelbase proportions.
“It has a much longer wheelbase than the 3 Series, or any car in that segment because you give the occupants space. Not so much vertical space, but knee space, horizontal space," Mr Guillaume said. “When you sit in the back of the Stinger you are not cramped, you feel quite comfortable.”
Considered a handling benchmark in its class, the BMW 3 Series is often cited as a reference point by rival manufacturers, however the Stinger promises to bring a value-led fight to the class, with a larger car that also features a more powerful 272kW twin turbo 3.3-litre V6 engine compared to the 240kW 3.0-litre turbo BMW 340i.
“Automatically if you make those choices you are not going to be as competitive as a much more compact solution, like a 3 Series, but that was the choice we made and it was the right thing for us to do,” Mr Guillaume said of the Stinger.
While the idea of a less threatening 3 Series rival holds true for Europe, Australian-bound Stingers are currently undergoing a unique suspension tuning program to suit local conditions meaning when the Stinger finally arrives in Australia local customers could be treated to a very different vehicle.