As Kia continues its ascent into the premium category with the flashy 2018 Stinger, questions arise over what models it will compete most closely with. On one hand, its RWD layout and performance focus mean it could conquest muscle car fans in need of more space than what’s offered in a Camaro or Mustang. In terms of brand identity, Kia is more traditionally aligned with Ford and Chevrolet.
However, now that features once exclusive to luxury cars like heated leather seats, premium stereos and panoramic sunroofs are widely available on even basic cars, what defines luxury is blurred and buyers may have less allegiance to prestige brands if the same features, and more, are available for less elsewhere. Kia’s own Optima, for example, can be equipped with quilted Nappa leather heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and premium stereo, for less than it costs to get a Lexus ES 350 with fake leather covering the seats and none of those “luxury” features.
On the luxury side, the Stinger would compete with RWD-based Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS, BMW 3/4 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Alfa Romero is a bit player in the market, but matches up closely with the Stinger in many ways. With pricing expected to start somewhere around $30,000, this will present a more enticing value to luxury car shoppers than the expensive and rather boring Kia K900.
With products like the Stinger, Kia is brining the heat to the luxury brands and stands poised to profit from consumers with weakened allegiances to luxury brands.