By on March 28, 2017

Kia Stinger Detroit Auto Show, Image KIA Motors

It was jarring, when the 2018 Kia Stinger debuted, to see the automaker’s corporate badge prominently displayed on a desirable, rear-drive sports sedan. In spite of the sales gloom that surrounds the traditional passenger car market, some of us have wondered whether the badge alone might cause performance-minded premium car buyers to overlook the model when it appears on dealer lots.

In Korea, however, no one will be able to blame the model’s success or failure on the presence of a “Kia” badge. That’s because it won’t have one.

According to South Korea’s Pulse, Kia’s lengthy new compact sedan won’t be sold in that country with a Kia badge. While its name is the same everywhere, the automaker has apparently designed a wholly new emblem to use on Stingers sold in its home market.

That’s right, the most droolworthy car to roll out of Kia since, well, ever won’t advertise that it’s a Kia. In every other market, customers won’t have to guess what company built the vehicle. Stingers go on sale in Korea in May before arriving in the U.S. later this year.

Why the badge switcheroo? A company spokesperson, speaking with Yonhap News, implied that the automaker hoped to draw non-Korean buyers into the brand with a hot Kia-badged vehicle. At home, the company is apparently undecided on what engines to offer. The Stinger will, however, start at about 30 million won, which translates into just under $27,000 greenbacks.

Americans already know what Stingers they’ll see. The model, which shares its architecture with the upcoming Genesis G70, will bow with a 255-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic in base trim, with an optional twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 making 365 hp.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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37 Comments on “The Kia Badge isn’t Good Enough for Korean Stingers...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    SOP for Korean brands to do this. There are all different kinds of Hyundai and Kia badges which are model-specific over there.

    Kia Regal
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/20100902_kia_optima_regal_02.jpg

    Hyundai Tuscani
    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PajqqrCblKo/maxresdefault.jpg

    Hyundai Equus
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/20100801_hyundai_equus_02.jpg

    Ssangyong Chairman
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6WPz4Jp13RY/U-efGxzNSSI/AAAAAAAACCI/WJgoPfp9O7A/s1600/20101004111102!20100801_ssangyong_chairman_w_02.jpg

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Hopefully they will do the same to the Stinger being tested here
    As well the European version will have the 2.2 Diesel
    “Revealed overnight in Europe, the Stinger diesel will be powered by the Hyundai-Kia group’s 2.2-litre ‘R’ turbo-diesel, which in this application will produce 147kW and 440Nm.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As the linked article implies, maybe this is a foray into developing a premium sub-brand for Kia, as Genesis is for Hyundai.

    Acura, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Infiniti, and arguably Audi are all positioned similarly.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Nope – not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

      Kia simply doesn’t have the financial resources of Hyundai to support a new luxury brand and dealer network, much less develop a (basic) full line-up of luxury models (right now, it’s the K900, Stinger and likely 1 luxury crossover).

      • 0 avatar
        John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

        Kia has exactly the financial resources of Hyundai. It is owned by Hyundai.

        Not to say Kia will get its own version of Lexus, it makes no sense with Genesis having just launched.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          HMG only has about a 30% stake in Kia.

          Hyundai simply has greater resources – which is why they have greater production capacity and why they develop a greater # of models specific to a certain market.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Not a sub-brand a la Acura/Lexus; maybe more of a Korean Corvette.

      Does *anyone* think of it as a Chevy Corvette anymore? No. It is, and it’s still sold at Chevy dealers, but…just call it Corvette and move on.

      I can see this being just “Stinger” without any badges. It all depends on the swagger and attitude the dealers and the manufacturer give toward it.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The latest word is that the US model will be getting the usual Kia badge.

    In Korea (as in Japan), luxury models tend to get their own special badging (much like what GM does for the Vette) – so this is nothing new.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I really like this car; the only caveats are back seat space (I need a rear-facing car seat on one side, not the center, and that might put the kibosh on it) and the RWD; I have a snaky, hilly, unplowable gravel driveway, and there are plenty of times when a FWD car with Blizzaks struggles. Depending on weight distribution RWD might not be the best option.

    But it’ll still be on the list.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      Sounds like you want a Fusion Sport… 325 HP, AWD. Decent room inside last time I tried one. Pricing probably similar.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        turbo_awd, I was strongly considering one, and almost got a Fusion last time. But two long rentals of the Titanium have convinced me otherwise. The infotainment, even Sync 3, is horrendous (despite many attempts I was never able to get Pandora to work right, among other things), the fit and finish is pretty bad (nothing quite lines up on the interior), and there are lots of little niggling issues… trim poking out that caused wind noise, the trunk rattling like tin when you shut it, and in one car, horrifying wheel hop / shudder on acceleration in certain circumstances and in the other a pigeons-roosting sound from the engine under 2.5k rpm.

        Oh, and the headlights on one of them were so bad that my friend thought I was driving with just the accent lights on.

        It just didn’t *feel right*, and these were pretty-well-loaded Titaniums with 18k I was comparing to my 2015 mid-spec Sonata with 45k.

        They also just drove *really big*. All in all, yeah, I know that rentals aren’t an optimal test, but 20 hours in those two cars pretty much wrote off the Fusion for me. Shame, because I really *wanted* to want the Sport.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Stinger will have AWD as an option.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Nice car. But I have to admit: walking into a Kia dealership in Canada is akin to walking into a K-Mart that is about to close its doors forever. The sensation is that they may not be able to make payroll on Friday, and the staff knows it.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    6″ of lift and that’d be a fine seedan.

  • avatar
    mike978

    I am surprised this is called in the article a compact sedan. Seems more like a mid-size sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Well, with all the Great Stuff inspired interior padding plus wide consoles plus fat seat bolsters plus mirror-in-face plus sun roof thickened headliners plus pumpkin-sized, forward pressing headrests… *breathes*… what sedan isn’t now compact inside?

      I’m sick of cars making me feel like I’m squeezing head-first into a New Balance walker.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        Saw one in person at the Calgary Auto Show. Looks waaay too big to be compact, but I couldn’t touch it, let alone get in, so I don’t know what the interior space is like.

        Compacts are enormous these days anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

        Because every car comes with a sunroof. And who needs whiplash protection when we can make people feel better when they look at the seat.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Stinger is slated to compete in the compact segment, but like the Infiniti G/Q50 and the 1G/2G Cadillac CTS, is larger than the norm for the compact segment (actually closer in size/interior space to the 5 Series than the 3 Series).

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Keep the KiA badging, it takes guts to build a sporty car and stick KiA or Scion on it.

    Likewise keep the Corvette a Chevy, it’s worked for the past few decades after all.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Well, it’s not like you see the Chevy bowtie emblem on the Vette, aside from being incorporated into the Corvette dual flag badge (where it’s really tiny) and sometimes not even then (for special editions, etc.).

      There’s also the separate additional Stingray badge.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I am wondering if they will keep on having plastic backing to the front seats.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    As stated above, par for the course. The models are the “brand” in Korea, especially for higher end cars.

    Koreans don’t drive a Hyundai Grandeur (Our Azera). They drive a Grandeur. Same for the now G90 / EQ900, the artist formerly known as Equus. I’m still surprised they threw all that brand equity away in Korea with the Equus and changed it to the EQ900.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I often have to remind myself to temper my expectations on this one.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Probably won’t be the best-handling sedan in the segment (in part due to its larger size and weight), but the early drive reviews of the prototype have been positive – so at the very least, should have good enough handling for most enthusiasts.

      Better yet, the indication is that a sub-$30k starting price for the turbo-4 seems likely.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        As something of an exhaust fetishist, my biggest concern is how the V6 will sound.

        I’m not expecting it to match a Maserati or anything but I’m hoping Kia either develops some sort of active exhaust system or offers something as a dealer add on the way Cadillac does. I’m sure the aftermarket will have some options but warranty voiding is not the fun and a lot of them just go for louder over better.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    At this point in time, they should sell the Stinger under the Genesis badge in the U.S. Maybe do a slight design change to the grill to make it look more like the G80. It could be sold as the G60 or something.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I’m pretty sure that after KIA spent the time to design this that they wouldn’t want it sold through Hyundai. They aren’t the same company after all. Plus it has too much of a family resemblance to the Optima.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    After test driving the Genesis, I’m sold. When the G is up for replacement, if Hyundai can get its transmission programming together, it’s either gonna be a Stinger or a G70 that replaces it. I’m amazed that Hyundai is able to sell the Genesis at its price point profitably… it makes the whole 3 series segment look like a complete joke.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      The Genesis/G80 is taking on the 5/E in theory, though, isn’t it?

      I agree, though; I was extremely impressed when I checked out a 2015 Genesis. And since I own a Sonata I know that they do the infotainment and electronics right, which is really not a given. But that goes for Kias, too, since Uvo is (or certainly looks like) a clone of H’s infotainment setup.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    “Check out my Stinger!”

    “Stinger? Who makes it?”

    “Oh, don’t worry about that…c’mere and check it out!”

    “I don’t understand why you’re being so elusive about the make…”

    “I’m not being elusive! I just don’t think it’s germane to our discussion.”

    “‘Germane?’ I ASKED YOU DIRECTLY ‘WHO MAKES THIS?\'”

    “Look, if you’re going to get upset, I’ll just have someone else check out my Stinger.”

  • avatar
    Fred

    If you are buying this car for status then yea the Kia badges are bad. Otherwise you can remove the stick-on badges easy enough. People don’t even know what my TSX is without badges. Even the dreaded beak is no clue. I could really mess with them by getting the Honda grill.

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