Koreans showcase new concepts, new models in Detroit

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By Neil Moore
Metroland Media

DETROIT, MICH. – Motown has hosted an auto show for more than a century, and although it is now the North American International Auto Show, many still refer to it by its city of origin.

Yet despite this being Motor City, where so many are emotionally, if not financially, tied to the Big Three domestic automakers, there’s still plenty of buzz about the imports at the 2014 installment.

This excitement includes, in no small way, the Korean manufacturers who’ve been continually raising their game within every segment in which they play. These days Kia and Hyundai vehicles are available in all but just a few segments.

One does however come to mind, and while Hyundai has its own entry with the Genesis Coupe, Kia is now just testing the waters with what could be an affordable, rear-drive 2+2 sports car – at least if the GT4 Stinger Concept ever makes it to production.

The vehicle was conceived by the “gearheads” at Kia’s California design studio, who were also responsible for its predecessor, the Track’ster concept, which appeared in 2012.

Rather than looking to pack the GT4 Stinger full of technology and driver aids, their aim was more towards weight reduction, functionality and a ‘connected’ driving experience. In other words, building a car for the enthusiast.

Power comes from a tuned version of Kia’s 2.0-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injected four-cylinder engine, delivering a solid 315 hp. Chief designer Tom Kearns was quick to point out that this is capable of even more, producing upwards of 400 horses in their Optima racecars.

Although there are currently no plans to bring the GT4 Stinger to production, it does suggest a future styling direction.

The action over at Hyundai was less a flight of fancy, as the all-new 2015 Genesis Sedan that will be hitting showrooms in the spring.

It is the company’s first vehicle to employ their “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0” design language. The new sedan’s styling is more in-your-face than its predecessor, with a bold hexagonal front grille flanked by swept-back projector headlamps (bordered by LEDs), and tied into a character line that runs the length of the car to its pronounced rear fenders.

Power is routed to all four wheels via the brand’s all-new HTRAC all-wheel drive. Genesis Sedan is the first model to use the rear-biased HTRAC system, which can send up to 90 per cent of power to the front wheels, or 100 per cent to the rear, depending on driving conditions.

Inside, designers have paid careful attention to the placement of controls, not to mention the use of high-end materials like textured aluminum, Napa leather, micro-suede and matte-finish wood.

And to improve safety, Hyundai has included an extensive list of driver aids like lane departure warning, lane change assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, a company-first autonomous emergency braking system, and an industry-first carbon dioxide sensor that draws in fresh air when CO2 levels are too high.