Kia Australia has wet the bitumen in the lead up to the September launch of its red-hot Stinger liftback by confirming three specification levels and indicating prices from about $40,000, rising to around $50,000 for the V8-chasing bi-turbo V6 flagship.
The rear-drive Stinger will open with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder model and rise to the bi-turbo 3.3-litre V6 GT variant, that with 276kW/510Nm, will match the outgoing Commodore SS V8 with its claimed 4.9 second 0-100km/h acceleration time.
Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the top-spec engine was the one that has brought all the attention and may grab 75 per cent of Stinger sales. He said all of the 30 orders being held by national dealers are for the GT.
He expects the Stinger's three spec versions will initially command sales of 200-300 a month because of possible supply constraints.
Though he said "we don't expect a lot" of stock in the first four months because of expected global demand, he believes sales will rise to about 400 units a month in 2018.
Though the rear-drive Australian-built Commodore will soon exit the market in favour of an imported front/all-wheel-drive replacement, Mr Meredith said there was a strong argument for a rear-drive sedan – or in Kia's case, a liftback – in the Australian market.
He said Kia Motor Company in Korea understood the importance of the Stinger in the Australian market – because of the history of rear-wheel drive performance sedans – and that would make the Stinger GT something of a halo car that also delivers sales volume.
The Stinger GT will be pitched against the Chrysler 300 (from $55,000) and Holden Commodore SS 6.2 (from $47,490). It will also match up against the current Holden Insignia VXR V6 turbo sedan priced from $51,990. Prices do not include on-road costs.
Kia has confirmed that some Stingers are undergoing trials in Australia for further development work and that the police departments in three states now have them for testing. The police are testing both the entry-level and the GT variants.
Suspension work has been done to Australianise the car, with input from KMAu's ride and handling team led by suspension expert Graeme Gambold.
KMAu general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth said the suspension tuning is similar to the UK version and that very few changes were required for Australia.
But he said the muted exhaust note was likely to change its tune before the local launch.