Detroit: GT4 Stinger soft-top already mooted

Kia president reveals show-stealing concept lends itself to a convertible – should it make production

Wheels magazine, motoring news, Wheels, Detroit, motor, show, Hyundai, Genesis

A CONVERTIBLE version of the Detroit-show stealing GT4 Stinger could already be in the pipeline.

Kia Motors Corporation president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, revealed that he would like to one in the range should the three-door coupe enter production, since the low-slung styling lends itself to a drop-top very easily.

In fact, instead of the seemingly obvious Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ that GT4 Stinger evokes, the German design veteran name-checks the evergreen Mazda MX-5 as the inspiration for the concept vehicle.

“We have not yet worked on it. But I could imagine it,” he told Wheels magazine at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today.

“Of course, it is pretty obvious how (this car) would look with a soft top. I would do it anyway. I would always do it with a soft top.”

Unbelievably, Mr. Schreyer admitted that most of Kia’s senior management in South Korea was unaware of the concept car’s existence until its surprise unveiling at this afternoon’s motor show press day.

“We usually just go ahead in design and suggest something (like this concept), and then top management see it and have to decide,” he said.

“And today is the first time they’ve seen it, so I don’t know their reaction. “We have to wait now to see how the reaction is, what top management thinks and how they react to it. But from a technical point of view it is realistic.”

Mr Schreyer added that he has always longed for an inexpensive sports car to boost the brand. It has not been able to happen until the right off-the-shelf underpinnings – in this case the Hyundai Genesis’ – became available.

“Basically the underpinnings are the Genesis,” he said. “We always wanted to make a little sports car and finally we’re allowed to try one out. I think something like this would have potential as a product, and it would suit our product range very well, and make it spicy and give it some character.”

Mr Schreyer explained the liftback configuration was chosen to increase the coupe’s appeal as a more practical sports car option compared to rivals such as the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86.

“If we made it as a 2+2 notchback the boot would have a very small opening, making it impractical. But if it came as a convertible it would need a different kind of solution.”

While the GT4 Stinger Concept’s design contains a number of fanciful elements – namely the semi-transparent crosshatched A-pillars that are designed to dramatically improve forward vision – the basic design principals appear to be sound for production.

“(The A-pillars) still need to be properly researched and engineered. I don’t think they are unrealistic but they would need a lot of development. But I don’t expect to see any problems.

“Once it gets a green light it might take – I don’t know – two to three years? We still haven’t done any feasibility work on it.

“But my understanding is that there is nothing about it that is impossible.”

By the way, the GT4 Stinger name came about when the US-based exterior design team led by Chris Coutts suggested bee-like yellow paintwork, while the GT4 prefix pays homage to a European sports car touring race series.

The first sketches were only penned in February last year, too.


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Byron Mathioudakis

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