The beautifully-styled Stinger is a dynamic gran turismo model and is ultimate proof that the Kia marque can challenge the premium manufacturers and match them for design, technology and performance. Then, they can smash them when it comes to pricing and warranty.
The goodStyle, technology, performance and pricing
The badLimited head room in the rear
Kia Stinger – First Drive (2017)
Kia has taken a giant leap into new territory with the launch of a stunning gran turismo model that would look just as at home sweeping along the French Riviera mingling with the jet-set as it does powering along the UK countryside.
It’s called the Stinger which conjures up all sorts of images of sporting prowess and the four-door fastback-style hatchback delivers driving capabilities that perfectly suit the name.
The Stinger, which is Kia’s first rear-wheel drive car to be launched into the UK market, is priced from £31,995 to £40,495 and is available in three generously-equipped trim levels called GT Line, GT Line S and GT S.
All models have an eight-speed automatic gearbox but customers can select from three punchy powertrains. There is a 2.0-litre 244bhp T-GDi petrol version, a 2.2-litre 197bhp CRDi diesel or a mighty 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turbo V6 T-GDi petrol unit which helps to power the fastest Kia ever from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 168mph.
The Stinger is guaranteed to turn heads and during our road trip from Newquay in Cornwall across our very own English Riviera to South East England, we were approached by a number of people who were attracted to the car. Most were pleasantly surprised to learn it was a Kia but they were certainly all impressed with the vehicle’s styling and its performance capabilities as we reeled off the stats.
And it’s easy to see why because the Stinger is beautifully designed with curvaceous sweeping lines, muscular shoulders, a long rippled bonnet, short front overhangs, finned gills behind the wheel arches, a large grille and sporty air intakes.
The interior has a very upmarket and premium feel to it with the likes of Nappa leather sports seats that can be heated or cooled, a D-shaped heated steering wheel, a wing-designed leather dashboard and a chrome-trimmed grab-handle gear stick.
On-board technology and creature comforts are plentiful, including a 15-speaker harmon kardon sound system, head-up display, Bluetooth, a wireless charger, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus dual-zone air conditioning. In addition, the range-topping Stinger GT S is linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom which keeps occupants right up to date with live traffic reports, weather conditions, speed camera locations and points-of-interest such as nearby Kia dealerships, fuel stations, hotels and restaurants. All these details are displayed on an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
Comfort levels within the car are first rate and there is ample space in the back for a couple of adults (three if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders) to travel in comfort. The two outer rear seats can also be heated.
But with families in mind, the Stinger needs to be a practical choice and it succeeds on that count too thanks to a generously-sized boot with a luggage capacity that ranges from 406 to 1,114 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere there are a number of alternative storage options, including door pockets, covered trays, cup holders, a sunglasses compartment and a large glovebox which is essential as the Stinger would appear to have the world’s largest and most comprehensive manual.
We tested out the star of the show – the Stinger GT S priced at £40,495. This model, on 19-inch wheels, can soar to 60mph from a standing start in a very rapid 4.7 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 168mph. In fact, on a private runway, some display drivers clocked up 161mph in the Stinger and apparently, there was still more power to come – they just ran out of runway!
Obviously, with those driving capabilities the economy is going to take a bit of a hit, but it’s not too bad with combined fuel efficiency of 28.5mpg and carbon emissions of 225g/km.
The power-adjusted seats, along with the electrically-adjustable steering wheel, mean the driver can quickly and easily get the ideal position and these settings can be stored for future reference.
The head-up display can also be adjusted so it is in the driver’s eye-line and it can show information such as speed, navigation instructions, cruise control, audio and blind spot detection. Thankfully the amount of data can be customised to avoid an information overload.
And when it comes to performance, the Stinger is certainly not a car for the faint-hearted. The acceleration through the eight-speed gearbox is blisteringly fast and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles if you fancy taking a little more control.
The road-holding is ultra-assured and the steering is precise with plenty of driver feedback. Being a rear-wheel drive model it can be a little twitchy if thrown into bends too enthusiastically, but it never shows any sign of losing control.
The driver can toggle through five different driving modes called Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ to alter the throttle and gear shift responses. There is also an Active Engine Sound System to relay the engine note through to the cabin, which is another first for Kia.
Due to the car’s low slung design, the over-the-shoulder visibility is not brilliant and the rear window is fairly narrow, but the Stinger is kitted out with all manner of safety systems and driver aids to help out. These include autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection with rear traffic alert, lane keep assist, high beam assist, driver fatigue warning and an active bonnet set-up that offers protection for pedestrians in the event of a collision. It’s these systems that Kia believes will help the Stinger achieve top marks when it is tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
All in all, the Kia Stinger is a superb new arrival that is ultimate proof that the Korean marque is well capable of developing a car that can compete with the premium brands. It is beautifully designed, boasts top levels of equipment, delivers outstanding driving dynamics and is very competitively priced.
*The GT S is the only model currently on sale with deliveries expected in January – the other versions will be released in February.