Let’s face it. Most American car buyers in 2017 don’t actually want cars. You know, the traditional passenger car. Most car buyers who actually want cars don’t want full-size sedans built by mainstream sedans. And among the few car buyers who actually want full-size volume brand sedans, the overwhelming majority — 99 percent, in fact — do not want a Kia Cadenza.
The U.S. market is about to get a lot more difficult for the Kia Cadenza, which is currently priced from $32,890. Admittedly more powerful than the forthcoming 2018 Kia Stinger, the Kia Cadenza is a nearly five-year-old front-wheel-drive luxury barge in a semi-attractive Kia body.
The 2018 Kia Stinger, on the other hand, is a flashy new cut-price sports sedan hatch, a model deserving of some anticipation that’s priced from $32,795, or ninety-five dollars less costly than the chronically unpopular Kia Cadenza.
Of course, comparing the Kia Stinger and its twin-turbocharged V6-engined Stinger GT sibling with the Cadenza is not what Kia wants consumers to do. The 2018 Kia Stinger will cost thousands less than supposed competitors such as the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. By the time the Stinger reaches the $40K tipping point — or $39,895 to be precise — it’s already equipped with a 365-horsepower twin turbo 3.3-liter V6. The A5 Sportback starts at $43,575; the 430i Gran Coupe at $44,095.
Imagining legions of German-intended luxury car buyers making a switch to the Kia requires an enormous leap, but that explains Kia’s significant price advantage. It remains to be seen how much of that advantage is wiped away by more rapidly degrading resale values. Fortunately, Kia’s not entering the market with a half-hearted effort.On the basic $32,795 Stinger, Car And Driver reports, standard equipment includes leather seating, a seven-inch infotainment unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the eight-speed automatic transmission that’s married to each of the Stinger’s engines across the board. A Stinger Premium trim pushes the price up to $37,895, Jalopnik says, by adding a sunroof, LED lighting, a special gauge cluster, and a larger touchscreen with navigation. All-wheel drive is a $2,200 option on these and other Stinger GT models.
The Stinger GT is offered in three different forms: GT, GT1, and the aptly named GT2 variant. All GT models receive the hood vents that appear to be trying too hard to convince us, Pontiac-like, of performance. To the basic $39,895 GT, which is equipped like the basic non-GT Stinger, the $44,395 GT1 adds the Stinger Premium’s content.The top-spec Stinger GT2, $50,395 with rear-wheel drive or $52,595 with all-wheel drive, includes standard safety kit like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane keeping assist, and auto high beams (available elsewhere in the range) plus a limited-slip differential, a power trunk, and head-up display.
Kia’s pricing isn’t yet set firmly in stone for the 2018 Stinger, but don’t expect any meaningful changes. The fact that the Stinger undercuts the Cadenza does it no favors — this latest Kia must fight the same battle that the Kia K900 and Cadenza have so far failed to win. “But it’s a Kia,” will be the common refrain, no matter how pleasant it is to look at, no matter how great it is to drive. For goodness’ sake, that’s essentially what the boss of Kia’s Genesis corporate partner already said.
Securing the sales of each and every sports sedan buyer that manages to see past the badge is vital, and by pricing the Stinger appropriately, Kia stands a chance.
[Images: Kia Motors]