DETROIT – Dubbing it “a totally selfish design,” Kia rolls out its widely teased GT4 Stinger 2+2 rear-wheel-drive sports car at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.
The GT4 Stinger was crafted at the brand’s California design studio and is inspired by Kia’s success racing two turbocharged Optima sedans in the Pirelli World Challenge series, and Kia U.S. designers’ gearhead character.
“Driving enjoyment was the No.1 priority in designing the GT4 Stinger,” Tom Kearns, chief designer-Kia Design Center America, says in a statement.
Kearns calls the sports-car concept a “throwback to days when driving a car was a visceral experience that wasn’t muted by electronic gimmickry.”
Kia retuned the Forte compact’s 173-hp 2.0L turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cyl. engine to make 315 hp in the GT4.
A close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission transmits power to the rear wheels. Pirelli’s 20-in. P-Zero tires wrap around 20-in. aluminum center-lock wheels with carbon-fiber inserts.
Brakes are Brembo’s Gran Turismo 2-piece, 15-in. (38-cm) cross-drilled rotors using 4-piston calipers.
The GT4 Stinger, which rides on a custom chassis with an independent double-wishbone suspension, is shorter in length than the Forte by almost 10 ins. (25 cm), but is 1.6 ins. (4 cm) wider than Kia’s Cadenza large front-wheel-drive sedan.
It also boasts a low roofline and weighs 2,874 lbs. (1,304 kg), about the same as the 2.0L ’14 Forte sedan, with a 52/48 front/rear weight distribution.
Kearns calls the car’s appearance “shrink-wrapped” as designers strived to create a look of body panels formed around the GT4’s chassis rather than welded to it.
Kia’s tiger-nose grille is low for maximum engine cooling and cold-air induction, the brand says.
The white of the grille surround and its satin-black border are flourishes carried throughout the car’s design.
LED headlamps are placed vertically and a carbon-fiber front splitter below the bumper is for downforce at high speeds.
Other exterior design cues include protruding front fenders, creating an edge at the car’s shoulders that becomes its belt line.
Drivers can view up to 270 degrees around them thanks to translucent A-pillars, which have layered slots that not only improve visibility but also cut weight.
A wraparound-sunglasses look, in homage to Kia’s Soul compact box, is present in the concept’s profile. Also inspired by the Soul is the GT4 Stinger’s floating roof at its C-pillars.
Satin black accents again are seen at the car’s rocker panels, with integrated functional cooling ducts to increase air flowing to the car’s rear brakes, Kia says.
The GT4’s glass hatch opens to rear storage, one of a number of practical touches inside the concept.
Billet-aluminum door handles, molded-leather bucket seats, a rubber floor in lieu of carpet and a thick, D-shaped steering wheel are some other sensible features, Kia says.
The car’s racing theme prompted red-stitched pull straps instead of inner door handles, and the deletion of a stereo.
“The audio system starts under the hood and the speakers are the exhaust pipes,” Kearns says.
Kia says it has no plans to build the GT4 Stinger, but notes design cues from concepts usually make it into production vehicles.