Auto blogMon, 13 Jan 2014 15:29:00 EST
After a trio of teasers, Kia has finally unveiled its GT4 Stinger Concept at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Kia says in its press release that "there are currently no plans to bring the concept to production." Of course, that's a qualified statement: the automaker then follows that up by noting it "has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concept that preceded them." So cross your fingers, kids - this looks like it could be a preview of the company's first real sports car.
Through those three teasers, we've learned and seen more of the GT4 Stinger, and we largely like what we see. It's a 2+2, rear-drive coupe with a detuned version of the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder used in the Kia Optima GTS racer from the Pirelli World Challenge. The concept's engine is said to be good for a healthy 315 horsepower, though the race-tuned Optima GTS can deliver upwards of 400. A six-speed manual handles the power, while staggered Pirelli PZero tires provide the grip. Those Pirellis wrap around a set of 20-inch wheels, complete with showcar-friendly center locks, while 15-inch Brembo brakes and four-piston calipers mean the Stinger should be able to stop with as much authority as it will go. What the teasers haven't been able to put into perspective, though, is GT4 Stinger's size.
The footprint issue is an important one, as it hints that a production GT4 would be more of an FR-S/Subaru BRZ fighter than a rival to the Genesis Coupe.
Kia has issued another teaser for its hotly anticipated GT4 Stinger Concept, which is set to debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show early next week. Our third teaser for the new car is from above, showing a squat, compact sports car form that makes us rather hopeful for the upcoming debut.
All signs point to the GT4 being a looker, with noticeable vents in the hood, a small back window and rather meaty C-pillars and rear haunches. When Kia calls this "sculpted" in the press release, we're certainly inclined to agree.
As we told you when revealing the GT4's last teaser, a 2.0-liter turbo will be responsible for motivating the rear-drive 2+2. If it held on to the concept's 315 horsepower, a production version of the Stinger Concept would certainly seem like it could have the potential to keep pace with the new EcoBoost-powered Ford Mustang, as well as the Genesis Coupe, from Kia's favorite corporate frenemy, Hyundai.
While improving its quality, appeal and market share in recent years, Kia has made tremendous strides in transportation technology as well, and aims to further that at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with new telematics and infotainment systems.
Among the new tech Kia will be displaying at CES this year will be several future advancements to its UVO system. The User-Centered Driver (UCD) concept centers around a widescreen head-up display that projects vital data such as speed, navigation directions and traffic information across 18 inches above the instrument cluster, joined by a 12.3-inch TFT display that presents the information in a 3D view, wireless mobile charging and hand-gesture recognition.
The In-Vehicle Information (IVI) concept uses a multi-display system (based around a 20-inch multi-touch center-console display) that synchronizes with a tablet or smartphone to interface with the concierge service, social networking, parking assist and smart radio functions. The system also enables vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and HD wireless connectivity.
Even with the arrival of the new Hyundai Genesis Sedan (above) and the expected introduction of at least two other new vehicles in 2014, Hyundai-Kia is estimating its sales will only increase by about 4.1 percent this year. Bloomberg has found that figure, which works out to a total of 7.86 million vehicles worldwide, to be lower than average analyst estimates of eight million vehicles. If the automaker is correct, that figure will represent the most sluggish growth for the Korean brands since 2006.
Based on an exchange rate of 1,050 won to the dollar - right now it's trading at anywhere from 1,050 to 1,052 depending on where you look - Hyundai is predicting a 3.8-percent uptick for sales of 4.9 million units, while Kia is expecting a 4.7-percent uptick for sales of 2.96 million units. That exchange rate is predicted to be part of what will hamper sales this year, with a stronger South Korean won making Japanese cars more price-competitive when cross-shopped. It's unclear how Hyundai derived its exchange rate, but 1,050 won to the dollar almost matches the 52-week high for all of 2013.
The company chairman mentioned a "low growth era" in the world economy, and weaker US sales are rumored to at least part of the reason John Krafcik recently vacated the post of Hyundai Motor America CEO, a post that has been filled by executive vice president of sales, David Zuchowski. That unexpected news capped a year in which two top execs resigned over quality issues and recalls and Hyundai agreed to settle a consolidated lawsuit over inflated fuel economy ratings for $395 million.
With reveals expected to include the 2015 Ford F-150, the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the high-strung Lexus RC F performance coupe (among many others), there are plenty of vehicles we're looking forward to seeing at the Detroit Auto Show. But now, with a rendered teaser image and short press release that includes some savory details, Kia may have just hit the top of our list with its GT4 Stinger Concept. Not even looking at the above image (which you can click to enlarge), Kia managed to grab our interest with just one sentence in said release detailing the car's powertrain: "A turbocharged 2.0-liter that pumps 315 horsepower to the rear wheels."
This low, wide concept has the face of a Kia-fied Audi R8, but the previous teaser stated that the concept will be a 2+2 hatchback. There is little other information to go on, but we'll see the concept car live in just 10 days. Until then, scroll down for the brief press release.
Hyundai-Kia ended up with a lot of kimchi on its face in 2012 when it admitted it had mistakenly exaggerated fuel economy estimates on several 2012 and 2013 model-year offerings like the Hyundai Accent, Veloster and Elantra and Kia Soul. Before the admission a lawsuit had been filed by an entity called Consumer Watchdog, afterward there were "approximately 53" lawsuits filed in federal court that were eventually consolidated into one case in a California Central District court.
The companies apologized profusely and gave customers prepaid gas cards that they could refill with funds for as long as they own their vehicle, as well as perks like free car washes and routine maintenance services. The company has just announced that it has reached a preliminary settlement of the case by adding another method of reimbursement, a lump sum payment that would free drivers from having to go back to the dealership to have their mileage verified for debit card refills.
Assuming the preliminary agreement is approved by the judge, customers could choose the lump sum or the cards. The settlement's value could be as much as $210 million, but the exact number depends on which program plaintiffs choose. On average, affected customers will receive $353. Approval could come in "early 2014," after which Hyundai will notify customers. You'll find more particulars on the potential settlement in the press release below.
The UK arm of Kia just released a teaser image (click to enlarge) for a new concept car that will be unveiled next month at the Detroit Auto Show. With little information to go on, the single overhead shot of the unnamed concept shows that it will be a two-door hatchback with a 2+2 seating configuration.
The brief press blast, which is posted below, promises that this is a new concept vehicle, so it's unlikely that it has anything to do with the similarly shaped Provo Concept that Kia showed off earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. Kia says that it will release more images of the concept soon, but it won't divulge the full details about the car until Detroit.
Forget advertising, incentives and, yes, even our excellently crafted vehicle reviews, sometimes the best way for automakers to sell cars is still good ol' fashioned word of mouth. In an attempt to measure this "word of mouth" power, The Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, has created a new study called the Brand Advocacy Index (BAI). The index takes a look at how various industries perform from person to person. Those industries include automotive, smartphones, grocery, mobile telecommunications and banking.
The study polled more than 32,000 individuals across Europe and in the US to come up with the top 55 brands in these various industries. On the automotive side of things, the top brands in the US were Honda, Hyundai and Kia, all tied at 63 percent. On a global scale, Volkswagen and Toyota scored the highest with a 65-percent BAI rating (both in France). The average BAI for auto industry players tallied 50 percent.
As for companies in other industries, Apple's iPhone was the index's top-rated smartphone, Trader Joe's was the highest recommended grocery store, Virgin was sat atop the mobile telecom industry and USAA was the top retail bank. Scroll down for the full press release on the new study.
When Kia introduced the updated 2014 Sportage back in September, one of the biggest things that stood out to us was that the base model was dropped. Not only did this mean the Sportage would no longer be offered with a manual gearbox, but we also expected a price increase to follow. We were right.
The entry-level trim for the 2014 Sportage is now the LX, which starts at $21,600 (not including $850 for destination). This is only a $400 increase over the 2013 Sportage LX, but it represents a $2,600 jump (13.6 percent) in the Sportage's starting price point. At this new price, the Sportage is now priced higher than the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and lower than many other compact crossovers like the Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota RAV4. Pricing for the 2014 Sportage EX has increased by $800, starting at $25,000, while the sportier, turbocharged Sportage SX holds steady at $26,900.
In addition to other minor changes like slightly refreshed exterior styling, a sportier suspension setup for the LX trim level and more available cabin tech, the other key update made to the 2014 Sportage is the addition of direct injection to the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This brings a slight bump in power output (from 176 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque in 2013 to 182 hp and 178 lb-ft for 2014), but, for some reason unknown to us, it dings fuel economy. With ratings of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, the front-wheel-drive Sportage loses 2 mpg for the highway rating compared to 2013, while the all-wheel-drive model's 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway is a drop of 1 mpg for both figures.
The 2014 Soul has come on strong since its introduction, going so far as to become the Korean automaker's top-selling model last month, but Kia isn't wasting any time in creating a little extra excitement for its boxy hatchback. Although the name is a little wonky, the Kia Soul Red Zone marks the first special-edition model for the second-gen Soul, and its styling is meant to mimic the 2012 Track'ster Concept, the showcar that inspired the design of the 2014 Soul.
While there's no pigskin or AstroTurf (or any other football-related references) to be found on this car, the Red Zone package consists of a distinctive white paint scheme with bright red accents. The red theme continues on the inside with contrast stitching and piping acting as highlights to the otherwise all-black interior. The 2014 Soul Red Zone goes on sale early next year, and while official pricing has not been announced, production will be limited to just 2,000 units.