We Interview Kia's Peter Schreyer About Design Challenges and Early Autobahn Testing
Prior to the debut of the Kia Stinger GT at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Motor Trend was invited to Korea for an exclusive deep dive on the vehicle and meetings with several key executives. Motor Trend was the only U.S. automotive media outlet invited, and we met with Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer for Kia Motors Corporation.
Motor Trend: What was the biggest challenge for you in bringing Stinger to market?
Peter Schreyer: I think the biggest challenge, actually, was bringing it to market [laughs].
PS: It was born as the concept car, and it would have been the first Kia with this kind of layout for all markets. We do have a rear-wheel drive, the big sedan, what you call the K900 in America. But to not just make a normal sedan, but to make a sport sedan like this is, in a way, a challenge to Koreans. But it was great the way it went because it kept going, and nobody said no. When we had the first model review, every presentation in here with our top management, they’re walking over, had such a smile on their face. They were so—from the beginning on—they were totally proud of it. They also gave everything to make it pop. You know what I mean? To make the decision, the calculation, and all that, and their smiles even got, how do you say, wider when they saw this one [gesturing at the Stinger GT], which is the GT version. We gave it a red color, and they always were just talking about the red car from then on.
And then there were some challenges also in production: the interior … to get that right … how far the C-pillar is inboard, you get a lot of shoulder … to really get all that right, from the interior packaging to the stamping depths and all this … to just get it there was quite the challenge, actually. But we got it.
MT: What design elements did you have to fight for the most, do you think?
PS: I don’t know. I don’t know which was more or less, but these are the elements that we constantly discuss and try to get through.
MT: What is your favorite feature? What’s the single most exciting thing for you that you’re most proud of in this vehicle?
PS: What do you want to hear [laughs]? Because everybody that asks that question, I could name another one for everyone. For me, it’s the whole thing. The interior, the exterior together, it’s a fantastic proportion. It’s not any one thing.
MT: Fair enough. Where did the name come from?
PS: Actually the name comes from the GT4 Stinger [a Kia concept that made its debut at the 2014 NAIAS]. It inherited the name from that one. Therefore, for me and Gregory [Guillaume, head of design for Kia Motors Europe] it was the GT from the beginning because it is a GT.
MT: What is it like to drive?
PS: Super. Really good. I hope you have the same impression. We did a test drive with other performance cars at the Nürburgring, and I also took it on the street—not the ’Ring. It was on winding country roads, and was really nice. And then there was a piece of autobahn, for 15 kilometers or so back and forth. I don’t know why, but there was practically no one on that road, and you could go full speed.
MT: How fast did you go?
PS: I can’t remember, 270 [kph, approximately 167 mph] or something like that, and even with all the camouflage on, it was still planted, like running on rails—really good.
I think it’s good that we have Albert Biermann [former head of BMW M division] here to set up the cars, and he puts a lot of enthusiasm in there, as well. That’s the advantage of the test center there, at the Nürburgring, where they do the set up for the cars. It’s pretty cool.