The Kia Stinger will be gone before Christmas.
Only a dozen cars are left in stock in Australia and all of those are expected to become early presents for driving enthusiasts.
The final sale ends the story of a car which was once planned to rival the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, then take over the family-car running once local carmaking ended.
But the Stinger was the right car at the wrong time, and its fate was sealed as SUVs became the favourite for families and other countries failed to match the Australian enthusiasm for the full-sized Kia.
“It’s been very good for the brand. It gave us bite in the marketplace where we never had any before with our products,” Kia Australia CEO Damien Meredith told CarExpert.
“I personally was very sad to hear it was going. We would have liked to carry on for a couple more years, to be honest. But it is what it is.”
The final Stinger sales total for Australia is 11,455 cars since sales began in October 2017. The best year for the Stinger was 2022 with 2242 sales.
Mr Meredith rates the Stinger as a success for Australia despite the eventual decision in South Korea to kill the car after a single model run.
“Kia built the business case. What we were excited about was the Stinger gave us an opportunity in Australia, with a powerful rear-wheel-drive family car,” he said.
“I think it was a success for us for a couple of reasons. It gave us volume.
“And, in volume terms, if our friends at Ford and Holden had kept on manufacturing then the market would have been bigger and more appealing and we could have sold some extra cars.
“It fell in our lap. We positioned it differently to the rest of the world, and that allowed us to sell more consistently than other countries.
“Australians had the heritage for that type of car. It was more favourable for us. We also got additional volume in the later part of its run.”
The 3.3-litre V6 turbo GT was the most popular Stinger model and was also a hit with police departments.
“The 3.3-litre accounted for 95 per cent of sales during its lifetime,” said Mr Meredith.
Around 325 cars were sold for police use, with Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as well as the Australian Federal Police, using cars in a variety of roles including Highway Patrol, undercover and recruitment.
But, ultimately, there was not enough global demand for the Stinger and its case was not helped when there was no partner Hyundai-branded model, like so many vehicles from the Hyundai-Kia group, to spread investment costs.
The Stinger did, however, share its platform with the Genesis G70, a considerably lower-volume vehicle in Australia.
Not helping the Stinger’s case was Kia’s shifting of its focus away from cars like it and towards hybrids and battery-electric vehicles.
“Globally, the Kia brand has moved into electrification. It’s like anything, when you’re making decisions about forward strategy you have to make a call on investment,” said Mr Meredith.
“The investment is going into electric.”
Still, he said the Stinger was a landmark car for Kia.
“It was a performance vehicle all the way through. It was a great car for us,” Mr Meredith said.
“It’s important to say goodbye. We forget that sometimes specific cars accelerate the performance of a brand in Australia. I’m very sure that Stinger did that for the Kia brand.”