For a carmaker that has come to be known more for its long warranty offers and low prices than performance or driving dynamics, entering the cut-throat sports saloon segment and trying to woo customers away from well-established brands with storied pasts would seem a highly challenging task. But Kia has boldly ventured into this hitherto alien territory with its Stinger GT. It’s not just the brutally capable past masters in performance motoring that the Korean greenhorn is tasked with
taking on. There’s the enemy within, the not so positive brand perception, which the newbie is required to tackle and alter.

The great news is, the Stinger GT is a car that’s capable of doing this job remarkably well for its maker. It looks positively belligerent while retaining the essence of Kia’s corporate design language. It exudes athleticism and aggression like no other non-premium saloon does. Benchmarked against European sports saloons, and honed at the Nürburgring Nordschleife under the watch of Albert Biermann, the former head of BMW’s M division, it also ably backs up the promise made by its dynamic appearance. From design, construction, quality of materials and workmanship to chassis dynamics, steering precision, ride quality and performance, Kia’s audacious new fastback leaves nothing to be desired, especially considering its starting price of Dh150,000.

For a car built ground-up by a brand that has no history in performance motoring, the Stinger GT is an outstanding feat. All the winners from our list of awardees are remarkable cars in their own right, but the Kia Stinger GT sets new standards in performance, dynamics and design for a saloon made by a non-premium badge, and is a true game changer. The Stinger is a brilliant attempt at making driving fun more accessible to the masses,  and what Kia has achieved here will have broader effects on the industry, as many ‘regular’ brands will now dare to develop and sell full-blown sports saloons. That makes it our 2018 Car of the Year.