Kia Stinger GT for SA: 5 fast Korean performance cars

<i>Image: Motorpress</i>
<i>Image: Motorpress</i>

Cape Town - Kia has announced that it will do the unimaginable and market its Stinger GT performance car in South Africa. For most South Africans the price (R859 995) and the notion of a dynamic Kia might raise some eyebrows but this is not the first fast car out of Korea. 

The South Korean automotive industry has been building to this point for quite some time, aware that unless it could produce a performance car to rival German benchmarks, it would always be seen a secondary automotive power.

KIA Stinger GT for SA

A limited number of the new Stinger GT will be available locally in the second half of 2018. The Kia Stinger GT will retail for R859 995.

                                                              Image: Motorpress

The SA-bound Kia Stinger GT is powered by Kia’s high-performance 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine that develops 272kW/510Nm.

The Stinger is the fastest-accelerating production Kia yet, with a 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 270km/h.

Fastest Kia yet: Here's how much the SA-bound Stinger GT will cost

Below we’ve compiled a history in Korean high-performance motoring. 

1. Hyundai Tiburon V6

Before the compact coupe market collapsed Hyundai managed to show it could style a decent two-door with the Tiburon. The name was Spanish for ‘shark’ and beyond the shapely exterior there were reliable Korean mechanicals and quality cabin trim.

                                                                         Image: Kia Motors

Although all Tiburons were front-wheel drive, you could get the second-generation Korean shark with a naturally-aspirated 2.7-litre V6 which was good for 128kW.

Not all that quick but it turned heads and the V6 was sufficiently melodious. Tiburon was commercially successful enough to last in production from 1996 until 2008. 

2. Hyundai Genesis coupe

The true forbidden fruit of all things great about Korean automotive engineering. Around the same time as the Tiburon went out of production, Hyundai showed what it was truly capable of with the Genesis Coupe. 

Wider and more purposeful in stance than the Tiburon, this was a serious driver’s car; rear-wheel drive, turbocharged engines, six-speed manual transmissions and limited-slip differential. Genesis won acclaim in the American market for the quality of its driving experience and excellent value offering.

                                                           Image: Kia Motors

It didn’t hurt that you could order a Genesis coupe with 260kW worth of turbocharged 3.8-litre V6. Unfortunately, the Genesis coupe was only ever built in right-hand drive, so none of them were eligible for the South African market. 

3. Kia Cerato Koup

A two-door Cerato with turbocharged power. In theory, it was a novel idea but in execution, Kia’s Koup was more of a high-speed cruiser than a performance car. Despite this, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine was very alert, producing 152kW and 265Nm.

                                                                           Image: Kia Motors

Unfortunately, it was only good for 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, due in part to a six-speed manual transmission which had bizarrely light and deep clutch pedal travel. 

4. Hyundai Veloster 

Not Hyundai’s greatest product. The concept was strange; an asymmetric door hatchback that was less practical in terms of rear-passenger ingress and debussing than any other.

Hyundai said it would be a true hot hatch but although it had a turbocharged engine displacing 1.6-litres and boosting 150kW/265Nm, outputs were shy of Veloster’s rivals and performance even more so.

                                                                     Image: Kia Motors

There was even a dual-clutch transmission of Hyundai’s own making, but somehow Veloster only managed a 0-100km/h time of 7.8 seconds. A curious car which never gained much following in South Africa but could become a future classic due to its rarity. Hyundai still sells Veloster in other global markets. 

5. Hyundai i30N

Very much Hyundai’s greatest moment. A road-going version of the proven WRC competition car, i30 N is everything Hyundai has promised it would be, a true high-performance hatchback with unusually pure levels of driver involvement for a Korean car. 

The styling is brilliantly authentic, with all additional upgrades over a lesser i30 delivering some aerodynamic function or purpose. Performance credentials are in absolutely no doubt, either.

                                                                              Image: Kia Motors

The 2-litre turbomotor is available in two states of tune (184- and 202kW), whilst there is a limited-slip front differential to harvest agility through corners. Configurability is brilliant too with three suspension settings and drive modes, each setting having a discernibly different feel and delivering what can be likened to a truly a German performance hatchback rivalling package. 

Annoyingly, the i30 N has still not been confirmed for local introduction, but if it was to land here, this is the car which would most certainly alter perceptions of Hyundai as a brand – and Korean cars in general.

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