I was raised in a very strict household. Men grew up and had relationships with American cars. That was it. My brother once dabbled in Toyota, but that was as far east as we went. That little pickup had great mileage and all, but what I felt for this car was completely uncalled for. What car, you ask?
It's called the Kia GT-4 Stinger, and it's fucking incredible. Was I crazy?
I tried justifying it to myself - “Volkswagen used to be a shitty brand. No one wanted to own Datsuns back in the day!”
I knew I couldn’t shake it. The more I tried to forget what I had seen, the more it drew me to do more Google image searches. I was head-over-heels and coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.
Roughly a week later, I broke it to my wife. “‘Honey, I have something to tell you. You’re gonna want to sit down for this. Please don’t leave me.”
Almost immediately after telling her, she shook her head and walked away. Maybe she was disgusted by me. Maybe she just thought this wasn’t worth her time. Maybe she was going into the kitchen for a glass of water. Either way, she came back a few minutes later and agreed that I wasn’t so far off base. After telling my car friends, they were just as receptive. Vindication!
The first time I saw this car was on my first break at work. I was checking out the auto show news, and stumbled upon its Parrot fish maw. I thought it was hideous until I read some more. 315 hp, 6-speed manual, 2800 pounds, analog. Analog. ANALOG! That’s the word that encapsulated everything I wanted in cars! Suddenly, Kia had my attention.
Looking past the previously dismissed grille, I started really looking at it. There’s something very Sport 800 about this car. Something very old, and yet very new. That long, low hood, the nonexistent rear end, the vertical headlights, the simple grille, the fender flares, the simple, the simple, the simple. The more I looked at the car, the more I saw what wasn’t there and the more I loved it. There was no useless venting and fog-lampage in the front. Chris Bangle didn't get his grubby and oddly-shaped mitts on it. No crazy ridges on the rear. This thing was simple, and simple is amazing.
I was so mesmerized, that I was able to forgive the GT-R-esque C-pillar and roofline. It’s still 2014, after all.
Now that I've had more time to consider the GT-4 and it’s implications, I'm in love without a shadow of a doubt. I knew from the beginning of the Toyobaru experiment that light, fun cars would change the car landscape forever. Gone would be the days where our only options for fun cars were cars that weighed over 3000 lbs or Miatas. This would be a new generation of hooning. Manufacturers would see again that there was interest again in cars that stirred the soul and the imagination.
We're on the brink of a very exciting time. A time where the concept of “analog” has re-entered the conversation. A time where lightweight is a commodity. A time where simplicity and purity trump complexity.
A time where being in love with a Kia isn’t such a bad thing.
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