Tom Kearns on the Kia GT4 Stinger concept

The Kia GT4 Stinger concept was one of the stars of the Detroit auto show, and it’s easy to see why. Wide, low-slung and sleek, the GT4 is all sports car, a vehicle typology that’s currently missing from the Korean automaker’s vast lineup.

Created at Kia’s Southern California design studio by Chris Coutts (exterior) and Brian White (interior) under the direction of Cheif Designer Tom Kearns, the GT4 Stinger features characteristic sports car proportions, such as a long, low hood and set-back cabin. Inside, the minimalistic interior features a clean leather covered IP and slots in the A-pillar to improve outward visibility. It’s a solution we’ve seen employed before, and it serves well to accentuate the concept’s driver-centric intent.

Some of the more interesting design details come in the form of the ‘stepped’ element that is repeated in the front grille, wheels, rear lamps and license plate surround. This design element is carried over into the cabin, where it is again repeated on the IP and in the cutouts on the racing-inspired seat.

While some of its design elements are reminiscent of Volkswagen concepts of the past – notably the 2005 EcoRacer concept in its front face and the BlueSport concept in its wheelarch bumps over the shock towers – the overall design is simple and pure, communicating its no-frills sports car intentions.

That Kia is currently gauging public reaction to a rear-drive, affordable 2+2 seat sports car is no surprise. The success of smaller, entry-level sport coupes like the Scion FR-S (aka Toyota GT-86) and its Subaru twin is a good indication that there would be a business case to develop the car as a halo model for the brand.

After testing the waters in Detroit, we’ll see if top management sees fit to develop the car. But for now, as Chief Designer Tom Kearns says, “it’s just a concept.”

Watch our exclusive video interview with Tom Kearns to hear him describe more of the concept’s unique design details.


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