Yes, the car brand known for practical transportation and value is boldly stretching into new territory with the rear-drive 2018 Kia Stinger sport sedan. Where most Kias can be considered affordable alternatives to Toyota models, consider this a substitute for the Lexus GS. Or perhaps even something spicier.

Inspiring the comparison, the Stinger has rather similar dimensions to the GS, being about 2 inches shorter and a little wider, yet riding on a 2-inch longer wheelbase. The automaker itself invites comparisons with an assortment of import competitors, from the Lexus IS to the BMW 4 Series. Ultimately, the shopper may be deciding between the upscale Kia K900 and something a bit more entertaining with the Stinger.

Like traditional sports sedans, the Stinger is based on a rigid, rear-drive platform. To this, a driver-adjustable suspension is fitted, with several modes to suit the mood and terrain. The modes, such as Eco, Sport, and Comfort, also tune the electric steering.

Two engines are in development: a standard 255-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 365-hp, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. Kia says it is aiming for 0-60 mph times of 5.1 seconds, making the top Stinger a bit quicker than the GS 450h F Sport’s claim. To balance out the acceleration is a set of vented Brembo disc brakes. The Stinger is the first Kia available in rear- or all-wheel drive. 

2018 Kia Stinger Sport Sedan interior

Stinger offers a full complement of advanced safety systems, including forward-collision warning with automatic braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, active cruise control, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. Interestingly, this is the first Kia to introduce a driver attention alert that can monitor several different inputs to assess if a driver is drowsy or distracted. Of course, the irony here is that this is likely the most entertaining Kia ever built.

Beyond the powertrain, entertainment comes from three audio systems, stepping from the standard 7-inch infotainment system up to a 720-watt, 15-speaker Harman/Kardon system. Audio, phone, navigation, and other vehicle information can be displayed with a color head-up display.

The Stinger looks to hunt for performance enthusiasts in competitive, shark-filled waters, but the promise does sound quite entertaining. We’ll find out how the Stinger stacks up against its established rivals when we buy one to evaluate at the CR Auto Test Center after it goes on sale in late 2017. 

2018 Kia Stinger Sport Sedan rear