Australia's safest electric car? 2022 Kia EV6 nabs coveted safety rating alongside new-gen Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has handed out the latest...
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
It was a 'what the heck?' moment when the Kia Stinger rumbled into dealerships for the first time in 2017 - only a month before the last Australian-made Holden Commodore would roll off the production line - but will lacklustre global sales mean the last affordable rear-wheel-drive sports sedan has reached the end of the road, too?
We asked Kia Australia’s chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, if the Stinger was staying.
“From what Kia headquarters has told us, it’s staying,” he said. “We haven’t heard anything else.”
It’s good news for performance car lovers. With the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore long retired and the Chrysler 300 SRT recently given the axe, the Stinger is the last standing high-performance rear-wheel-drive sedan for under $65k.
Sure, there's the Ford Mustang which is excellent bang for the buck at $64,390 (MSRP) for the 339kW V8 GT, but that's a two-door sports car - the Stinger is a full-sized four-door hi-po sedan, which makes it an even more endangered species.
The top of the range Stinger GT lists for $63,960 and comes with a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 making 274kW and 510Nm. For about $10k less you can have the same engine in the 330S grade or for $50,250 there’s the 200S with a 182kW turbo four.
It’s fair to say that quick four-door fastback isn’t for everybody and the sales results reflect this, too.
Sales of the Kia Stinger in Australia have been relatively low compared to most of Kia’s other models. For example, about 18,000 Cerato small cars are sold each year here, compared to 1800 Stingers annually.
But that while the Stinger sells in Australia in lower quantities, its figures are remarkably consistent. After starting on a high of 1957 sales after its first year on the market in 2018, sales settled down to 1773 at the end of 2019, followed by 1778 in 2020, while the 2021 results were a few hundred lower, at 1407, thanks to semi-conductor supply issues.
In the United States and Korea, the demand for the Stinger has been lower than expected.
“It didn’t reach expectations in North America,” Mr Meredith said.
“In Australia, I think it’s done a fantastic job. I would have liked to have done a lot more in volume, but I think because competition dissipated that market shrunk, but we’ve been really happy. From inception to now, it’s been averaging about 150 a month.”
Rumours back in 2020 suggested that lacklustre sales in the United States and Korea had convinced Kia’s bosses to kill the Stinger off before the second generation arrived, but Kia Australia’s head of product planning, Roland Rivero, dismissed these as just rumours.
“It didn’t reach sales expectations overseas. There were rumours on Korean Car Blog that suggested it’d be gone as early as quarter two next year – inaccurate,” he said.
“It made it to the Stinger club on Facebook and everyone was like, ‘You gotta be kidding me. Buy up now because this is going to die soon!'
“But we know for a fact that it’s not going to end at quarter two next year. I think it’s important. We have a halo vehicle now, and I think it will continue as a halo vehicle into the future.”
“It’s been a super car for us in Australia,” Mr Meredith agreed.
“It’s elevated the brand to a position we though we would never get to.”
At the end of 2020, Kia refreshed the Stinger with a new LED headlight and tail-light designs, fresh alloys and a bi-modal sports exhaust system.
The question remains then: are we likely to see a second generation of the Stinger?
“I don’t know,” Mr Meredith said.
“But I’ve said this before, I don’t mind if we keep the current one and it’s got a 10-year product life cycle, because it’s such a great car.”
“Look at the Nissan GT-R – how many years has that been around? I think halo vehicles can have a longer life,” Mr Rivero added.