Imagine having a beautiful plant in a garden where everything else seems to die. Or a favourite supporting character on a TV show where everybody is constantly in mortal peril. You’re always anxious that next week could be the end. That’s how I feel about the Kia Stinger, a large sports sedan/hatchback in an era that just isn’t welcoming to such cars.
It’s hard not to be pessimistic about this excellent car’s future. It’s too big for Europe. North American sales have so far been unexceptional. Sedans are still big in South Korea but they prefer theirs a little softer and plusher (and for them to actually be sedans). Then there’s Australia.
If there are two natural heirs to the Australian Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore dynasty, it’s the Ford Mustang and the Kia Stinger. But the Mustang is clobbering the Stinger, even in a market where coupes struggle and where Kia is experiencing meteoric growth. In 2018, Kia sold 1957 Stingers here while Ford sold 6412 Mustangs. One bright spot for Kia: over 90% of sales are of the flagship, twin-turbo V6 GT model, buyers seemingly ignoring the turbocharged four-cylinder model like they are the EcoBoost Mustang.
As you can see, Kia is also pursuing police sales. Stingers are now used as highway patrol vehicles in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Kia took a Stinger “Road Policing Command” car, belonging to the Queensland Police Service, to both SEMA and the LA Auto Show last year to encourage further police sales.
It’s unclear how much success they’ll have in the US police market, especially considering many departments are moving to crossovers and SUVs and traditionally only buy from domestic automakers.
The survival of the Stinger doesn’t hinge on US police sales but, rather, steady growth in the retail market. Fortunately, it shares mechanicals with the new Genesis G70 so has a platform-mate to keep it afloat (or, glass half empty, drown with it). Perhaps in the interests of success, Kia could thin its US lineup a bit – three other mid/full-size sedans (Optima, Cadenza, K900) is a bit much even if they do have different missions. Kia Australia has done just that, recently axing the slow-selling Optima (we don’t have the others here).
The Stinger pretty much fits the template of my ideal car: hatchback versatility, mid/full-sized, nice interior, plenty of luxury features, rear-wheel-drive and an available twin-turbo V6. If I was in the right place financially, I’d love to buy one instead of being one of those keyboard warrior enthusiasts who bemoans the loss of rear-wheel-drive cars but never buys new. Alas, it’ll likely be a used Stinger for me in a few years. Here’s hoping there’ll still be new ones around then.