The Kia Stinger has arrived in the US, where it will go on sale in December. The Korean carmaker has released a big gallery of its big rear-wheel-drive GT on-location, along with a background story of how the visually arresting Stinger came about. They’re really proud of it.

“Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us and after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world, that dream is now a reality. From its GT concept car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nürburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning,” said Orth Hedrick, VP of product planning at Kia Motors America.

The GT concept car he mentioned was the one from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Most saw it then as a flight of fancy from a budget brand, but the GT “ignited embers of passion that sparked a fire within the organisation”. Once the Stinger was green lighted, that gran turismo question became a mantra as development commenced.

Development goals were bold design, it had to be nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet, it had to achieve the perfect balance of ride and handling, and seat five comfortably with room for luggage.

Turning a concept into a production car is no small task and Schreyer looked to the guys who came up with the GT concept – Kia’s Frankfurt studio. Gregory Guillaume, chief designer at Kia Motors Europe, sums it up nicely.

“A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace. The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion,” he said.

Much has been said on the Stinger’s design, but whether you’re looking at these pics and nodding in agreement, or dismissing it as an over-stylised pretender, no one can deny that the big Kia is striking. Key to its presence are the RWD proportions; a long hood and short front overhang, an extended wheelbase, and a long rear overhang with strong shoulders. The stance is wide and the 0.30 Cd silhouette fast.

Kia points out that the Stinger’s wheelbase is longer than the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Infiniti Q50, the models it’s aiming for in the US. In fact, the 2,905 mm distance between the wheels is longer than that on the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

As with most European-designed Hyundais and Kias today, the Stinger spent plenty of time at the Nurburgring in prototype form. Kia says that its engineers put every development Stinger through a minimum of 480 laps (10,000 km) of high-stress driving around the Nordschleife for quality, reliability and durability testing. The Stinger’s development took in 160,000 km of on-road testing including the infamous difficulty of the Green Hell.

Riding on a chassis made from 55% advanced high-strength steel, the Stinger rides on front MacPherson struts (with large diameter shock absorbers, high-strength wheel bearings and an aluminium strut brace) and a five-link rear suspension is mounted to a stiffened rear subframe. The Stinger is available with Kia’s first continuously damping electronically controlled suspension called Dynamic Stability Damping Control with five modes – Custom, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart.

Under that long hood is a 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbocharged Theta II engine with 255 hp and 353 Nm of torque from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm, paired to an in-house developed eight-speed automatic torque converter automatic transmission. The combo is good for 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 5.9 seconds.

Kia says that the gearbox uses a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter to help reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain and has been designed with an oil cooler to more efficiently handle heat build-up. As with the suspension and steering, up to five different shift patterns can be selected through the drive-mode system, and throttle mapping is adjusted accordingly.

A gran turismo is surely better served by a bigger engine? Of course, and the Stinger GT comes with a 3.3 litre twin-turbo V6 engine. The Lambda II unit produces 365 hp and 510 Nm of torque from 1,300 to 4,500 rpm. Kia boasts that this is more power on tap than the Audi S5 Sportback and BMW 440i Gran Coupe. The firm goes further by pointing out that Stinger GT’s 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) time of 4.7 seconds is faster than the Porsche Panamera V6‘s. No 2.2 litre diesel option for the US, as seen in Europe.

The Stinger was designed as an RWD car, but Kia is also offering it with AWD in the US. The system is rear-biased and features a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system that shuffles power towards the front or rear wheels, depending on need. Up to 50% of torque can be distributed to the front wheels and in Sport mode, up to 80% of the power can be routed to the rear wheels. Rear-driven GT models get the benefit of an available multi-plate limited slip differential.

Kia says that the Stinger was subject to downhill braking tests on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in the Austrian Alps. We don’t know where that is but are familiar with the Brembo name. That company provides the brakes here, which consists of four-piston front calipers and two-piston rear units, all monobloc aluminium items. They hold 350 mm front discs and 340 mm rear discs.

The four-pot Stinger rides on 18-inch wheels with 225/45 rubber, while the V6 is shod with staggered Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (225/40 front, 255/35 rear) on 19-inch alloys.

It’s a Kia, so there’s no shortage of equipment. The Multiple Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) active safety package includes the new to Kia Driver Attention Warning system to help combat distracted or drowsy driving, Forward Collision Avoidance, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Keeping Assist, and Blind Spot Collision Warning with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning.

Other goodies include a height-adjustable colour head-up display (with navigation and blind spot info) and wireless charging, while a powered liftgate is available. The base audio system features six speakers and a seven-inch haptic touchscreen, but the V6 ups the speaker count to nine and includes an external amplifier. A Harman Kardon 720-watt system with 15 speakers and under-seat mounted subwoofers (beneath the driver and passenger seats) is available.

The Stinger has already been displayed in Malaysia, and Naza Kia has expressed interest in bringing the flagship Kia in. It won’t be cheap though, surely priced much higher than the RM175k the latest Kia Optima GT commands. Like what you see?