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Geneva 2017: Kia’s Gregory Guillaume on the production Stinger

08 March 2017 | by Lem Bingley

The Kia Stinger has been a long time coming – the GT concept that previewed it was shown way back in 2011. And its Geneva debut in European production guise included a final dramatic pause, as the vehicle due to roll on stage wouldn’t budge when the moment came. It had to be hastily removed and replaced.

According to Gregory Guillaume, chief designer at Kia Motors Europe, the car has been worth the wait: “It has taken slightly longer than we’re used to at Kia – our pace of development is usually very fast,” he says, “but it took a bit longer for several reasons. It is our first car in this segment, Kia’s first front-engined, rear-wheel drive car. And we wanted to get it right, not just in the way it looks, but the way it drives.”

Kia Stinger Rear

A lot of the concept GT has survived intact into the Stinger: “It stayed very true to the concept: the architecture is the same, the themes are the same,” explains Guillaume. “The one area of the GT that I was never 100 per cent convinced about was the front. It was a bit of a difficult birth and I saw the production car as an opportunity to improve things.”

The overall form has barely changed since 2011, however: “When you work on a car like that, the most important things are the proportions. A front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout is like Christmas. You get to play with volumes you don’t get on a car like Optima, for example,” explains Guillaume. “We’ve really tried to push the cabin towards the rear, and all the volume to the rear,” he says. “That’s why we decided to go for a fastback silhouette which really helps to push all the weight [to] the back.”

Kia Stinger Side

Guillaume adds that Kia has been very keen to avoid the BMW 3 Series as a reference point. “We believed that was not the direction we should go; we should go in the gran turismo direction. To have a car that has a different, more dynamic silhouette and also offers more interior space, so we went for a long wheelbase. When you work on a GT, the long journey is what it’s about. That was our decision from day one.”

Kia Stinger Haunch

A favourite detail, according to Guillaume, is the rear haunch treatment: “I like pointing out to people that when you look at the car from the side you don’t really realise that the shoulder line has a Coke-bottle effect to it. The fender over the rear wheel just ever so slightly bulges out.” Viewed in plan, the shapely hip becomes much more obvious.

“I also like the island bonnet shut line – something you always associate with sports cars,” he adds. “For me it was important to carry that over into the production car.”