by Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor
There was a curious car on the Kia stand at the 2011 Frankfurt International Motor Show. Named the Kia GT Concept, it was a personal project of designers Peter Schreyer and Gregory Guillaume, who wanted to re-create an elegant gran turismo capable of crossing Europe with style and pace. And while we could see a nod to the Porsche Panamera and the soon-to-be-released Audi A7, concepts come and concepts go. Kia wouldn't really build something like that, would it?
When the 2014 North American International Auto Show rolled around, Kia again had a concept wearing the Stinger moniker, but this time prefaced with a "GT4." It was a coupe, and while it also looked like a hatchback, it was so far removed from the Stinger GT concept that we more or less forgot that idea even existed. Unbeknownst to us, and pretty much everyone outside of Kia, the Stinger GT was already on its way to becoming a reality.
To call the five-door sedan an oddity would be an understatement. Mazda's been the only company brave or crazy enough to try to convince Americans of the inherent practicality of an affordable midsize hatchback, first with the 626 (way back when) and more recently with the Mazda 6. Both variants vanished after only a few years. Sure, Porsche has the Panamera and Audi has the A7, but those are luxurious curiosities.
Kia is aiming for the mainstream with a starting price under $35,000, but it has also pointed its finger directly at the Panamera and cars such as the BMW 440i Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback. We were interested in getting one for our long-term fleet even before Kia made those comparisons. Now we had to get one.