Peter Schreyer, the man responsible for the iconic looks of the first Audi TT coupe, has dreamed of designing a true sports car for Kia since the Korean automaker hired him away from the Volkswagen Group in 2006. Despite his success at Kia, which in 2012 earned him a promotion to Hyundai Motor Group vice president and chief design officer and put him in control of styling at all the company's brands, Schreyer's sports car remained in a drawer. Then an opportunity arose to put that passion into a completely different project. The result is the Kia Stinger. Schreyer discussed the sport sedan's genesis with Automotive News Europe Associate Publisher and Editor Luca Ciferri at the Stinger's European preview in Milan, Italy.
How did you start with the Stinger?
I had a sports car on my mind for years. It was almost a dream for me [since I arrived at Kia]. I had hoped to use a rear-wheel-drive layout for the car because you can get completely different proportions that way. After we did the South Korea-only K9 large sedan with rwd [Kia Europe design boss) Gregory Guillaume said we should collaborate on something based on this architecture because we are both passionate about sports cars. The result was the Stinger, which is something special. It is the first rwd sporty sedan from Kia that was designed since day one for international markets.
Where did you look for inspiration?
In the 1970s you had fantastic Gran Turismo models from Maserati, such as the Ghibli, that offered performance, comfort and style. The idea was to make a modern interpretation of the GT.
Was the first example of this the GT concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show?
Yes, it was so well received by the media, dealers and customers that the top management in Korea started to consider making a business case for the car so we started to work toward production.
Is it fair to say the Stinger is a reality because the design of the concept was so compelling?
Absolutely. And after seeing it the business side of the company became excited and really wanted to make it happen. For us it was a dream come true. I became more and more hopeful the car would make it to production when I kept seeing big smiles on the faces of top management when we presented the various evolutions of the project.
Why was it called the "red model" within Kia?
The code-name was CK but after we had presented the styling model painted in a special shade of red that everyone liked it became known as the red model within the entire company.
As a car goes from concept to production the design is usually toned down. Did that also happen with the Stinger?
Designers always aspire to make the production car as close to the concept as possible, but you face a lot of technical and safety issues, ranging from pedestrian protection requirements to C-pillar visibility. Overall, I am happy with the Stinger's final look. I also have to admit that the front of the production car is better than the concept because we had more time to refine it.