The Kia Stinger is the very embodiment of what makes a good car great. A 365-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive performance four-door to be had for under $40,000—besides a manual gearbox, what more is there to want? Despite the Stinger ticking a ton of boxes, enthusiasts didn't flock to Kia dealerships to drive one home as the automaker expected, and now the company's flagship car could be on its way to the chopping block.
News of the Stinger's potential demise comes from Korean Car Blog which cites industry rumors surrounding the car's potential post-facelift future. According to the outlet's reporting, Kia may be considering axing the Stinger should the model's already-week sales continue to dwindle.
It's no secret that auto sales are down amid the global COVID-19 pandemic; however, coupled with the Stinger's historic low-volume output and the need for automakers to focus on more profitable vehicles, its demise—if necessary—seems like an unfortunately logical sacrifice for Kia to make.
After all, only 13,861 Stingers were sold in 2019. That's nearly 3,000 fewer than the year prior, and sales have plummeted even further through the first quarter of 2020.
Since its inception in 2017, the Stinger has maintained a solid position at the bottom of Kia's lineup by sales volume, beaten only by the Cadenza and K900 in both 2018 and 2019. Still, its low adoption rate doesn't mean the Stinger is a bad car, just that it's misplaced.
It seems wrong to pit the Stinger up against the Audi S5, BMW 3 Series, or Lexus GS. Almost as wrong as it feels to call what appears to be a performance sedan a hatchback (which it is thanks to a fastback cleverly hidden into a sedan's body lines). But at the end of the day, the Stinger's rivals are primarily offerings from premium brands, including Kia's own sister manufacturer, Genesis. But unlike the aforementioned marques, it's difficult for some consumers to relate the Kia nameplate to a luxury offering.
In order to differentiate the Stinger from the G70, Kia decided it would house the sportier sibling. The tuxedo was handed over to Genesis and Kia instead dressed its golden child in a sports jacket. Its better brakes, better suspension, and sportier package made it an offering for enthusiasts instead of just another luxury sedan, but the no-option-left-behind $52,500 price tag was hard to stomach knowing that it's actually more expensive to buy a top-trim Stinger than a similarly configured G70.
Supposedly, Kia is still working to give the Stinger a mid-cycle refresh, meaning that we may soon see the model with a more refined jawline and tighter-fitting pants. Korean Car Blog claims that the automaker has sculpted a new front-end, redesigned taillights, and has potentially breathed new life into the existing 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6.
A few bells and whistles are hardly a second-generation Stinger, though the future of the platform seems to be in the hands of new car buyers at this point. If consumers want to see the Stinger live on and stray from the sea of beige crossovers, the sales need to back up the hype. If not, the Stinger's very existence may soon be in our rearview.
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