Kia’s Range-Topping Stinger On Test
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Kia is South Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles, now producing 1.5 million vehicles in 13 plants in 8 different countries.
Rewind a decade or two and the cars on offer were undoubtedly worthy, affordable and just a bit dull.
How times have changed as the current range encompasses attractive 4x4s, cute city cars and stylish family hatchbacks.
Prices have risen but then so has the quality and as if to emphasise the point, all the cars come with a comprehensive 7-year/100,000-mile warranty, unique in an industry where a 3 years is more the norm. From experience I doubt you will need it either...
What has been missing is a halo model, something with a bit of sparkle to cast a shining light over the range as a whole.
And now it is here in the form of the new Stinger, a stylish rear-wheel drive fastback.
It has been a long time coming as a GT Concept car was unveiled to the world’s press at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2011.
Having been unable to attend the Stinger’s UK launch event, I was delighted to become temporary custodian of a range-topping ‘GT S’ model, powered by a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine.
Five versions are available in the UK, all boasting turbocharged engines mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox.
‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ models are offered with either a 244bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine or 197bhp turbodiesel and these are likely to be the biggest sellers.
Lucky ‘GT S’ buyers will find 365bhp at their disposal from the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 motor. Electronic damping and Brembo brakes help keep things on an even keel!
Kia’s fastest accelerating car accomplishes the straight-line sprint from rest to 60mph in just 4.7 seconds and in the real world it feels every bit as quick. As you would expect, there is plenty of punch available at all times to dispatch dawdling traffic and there is a pleasant V6 soundtrack as an accompaniment.
Use all of the available performance on some favourite roads and you are likely to see less than 20mpg, though this did rise to around 32mpg on a gentle potter up the A1 to Newcastle. Overall my week ended with 24mpg showing on the trip computer. Incidentally the diesel engine promises up to 50.4mpg for the combined cycle.
Traction in the dry is excellent, but on damp days, liberal use of the accelerator had the traction control working overtime, especially with ‘Sport’ mode engaged. There is fun to be had...
Show the Stinger a winding road and it is surprising how much speed you can carry into the corners. The pliant suspension is firm enough to contain body roll, yet yielding enough to smooth out all but the very worst sections of pock-marked roads.
I found ‘Sport’ mode to be my default setting as I preferred the more powerful damping and sharper response from the accelerator.
The variable ratio steering becomes slightly heavier in Sport mode too, with shorter gearing reducing the need for larger steering inputs.
The aforementioned Brembo brakes proved remarkably resistant to fade, as well they should having been developed on some of Europe’s highest mountain passes and at the infamous Nurburgring.
High speed cruising is a relaxed affair, the Stinger’s slippery shape ensuring that wind noise is kept to a minimum. Road noise is all but absent too. Set the adaptive cruise control and motorway miles just fly by.
Kia’s press pack makes much reference to the Stinger’s role as a Grand Tourer, where comfort and luxury combine with raw power.
We’ve established that there is no shortage of power, but what about passenger comfort?
There is seating for five, but you would have to be on very good terms with your fellow rear seat passengers to travel thus. So four makes sense, but the coupe styling does reduce available headroom, a problem for a six-footer.
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The centre console has an aluminium finish to it, whilst the mock suede headlining and splashes of chrome aim to lift the cabin ambiance, with some success.
There is no doubting the engineering integrity and quality, but perhaps I expected a little more given the test car’s £40,000 + list price.
Unlike many of the Stinger’s obvious Teutonic rivals, there is no need to raid an options list as all models want for little.
Expect to find dual-zone climate controlled air conditioning, a customisable head-up display and a 360-degree around view monitor.
DAB radio via a 15 speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system is fitted and is immensely enjoyable in the hushed cabin.
Advanced driver aids also come as standard on all Stingers, with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Driver Attention Warning and an Active Bonnet for enhanced pedestrian protection in the event of a collision the highlights.
Thankfully I had no need to put these to the test.
I applaud Kia’s efforts with it new Stinger. It does what it sets out to do and that is to inject some sparkle into the South Korean manufacturer’s range.
Whilst the £40k GT S model was an absolute delight to pilot over the course of the week, the Stinger’s not inconsiderable charms are available from a more modest £32,000 and rivals are few and far between.
Look to Germany and the established players will charge considerably more for a comprehensively equipped fastback model and that’s before options.
Accept that the Stinger is not a sports car (though at times it does a pretty good impression) and instead focus on its ability as an able and cosseting mile-muncher and you will not be disappointed.
I hope that the UK buying public take to the Stinger as no doubt it will encourage Kia to continue to broaden its range and that is something we should all be excited about.
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 ‘GT S’
3,342cc twin-turbo V6 petrol engine
365bhp at 6,000 rpm
0-60mph in 4.7 seconds
Top speed 168mph
Combined economy 28.5mpg
Emissions 225g//km CO2
7 year/100,000-mile warranty
Affordable PCP deals with 4.9% APR finance
Kia’s Range-Topping Stinger On Test, 16th April 2018, 12:22 PM