Kia has delivered a car that is Stones or Beatles, Star Wars or Star Trek, Ford or Holden. There will be those that have driven it and get just what this large car from Korea, complete with the classic front engine/rear wheel drive pairing, is all about. Then there are those that point blank refuse to believe just how good 272kW and 510Nm are — simply because they’re in a gasp Kia.
The Stinger comes in three models, with one transmission option, and a pair of engines from which to chose.
The 8-speed auto is a pearler, while the 2.0-litre turbo four, also found in the Optima, is itself a pretty good car.
The GT spec offers both, of course, and as good as the turbo is, it does struggle in the bulkier Stinger. For sheer outright driveability, and enjoyment, the V6 with its torque spread is the pick.
Kia quotes the V6 as being a thirsty bugger around town, at 14.1L/100km. That’s a high price to pay for driveability in the ‘burbs.
But point the long long nose towards the countryside and that drops by nearly half, to 8.5L/100km — and it really is a fantastic tourer. My final figure, in a 95 per cent urban drive, was a comparatively excellent at 11.2L.
What’s it cost?
Kia lists the GT Stinger at $55,590 plus on roads and the bi-modal exhaust adds $2298. Pearlescent and metallic paints are additional costs as well. Servicing over seven years is $3412 with year four the most expensive at $670.
There’s a LOT of standard equipment for the moolah. Big 19 inch alloys, heated and vented front leather pews, Harman/Kardon audio with DAB and Bluetooth, and Brembo stoppers to titillate. Then there’s Autonomous Emergency Braking, 360 degree camera, reverse camera with guidelines, a limited slip differential, and Heads Up Display. Then there are three USB ports with one for the rear seat passengers, a pair of 12V sockets, and wireless charging for compatible smartphones.
Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and pedestrian friendly Active Hood (Bonnet) add to the safety package, as do seven airbags including a driver’s knee bag.
It’s an ergonomic and fairly classy look inside, with perhaps the HUD a minor weakness. Holden’s HUD in the VF series Commodore is operated via a dial that adjusts positioning, colour brightness, and what info is shown. The Stinger doesn’t and should.
Turbine style air vents are retro yet cool, and the dash will display plenty of info including a “G-Force” meter.
The sports style seats are superb in their comfort and support levels, and accessing the heating and venting (such a smart choice for Aussie spec cars) is a doddle. A powered tailgate makes access to the cargo area just as easy. Wide opening doors allow easy entry and egress, and the 2905mm wheelbase ensures plenty of legroom front and rear.
The review car came in stunning HiChroma Red, and the Stinger’s shape, a four-door (five door?) hatchback coupe style, in that colour harkens immediately to classic long nose shapes from Britain of the 1960s.
There are design hints too from Italy in the rear quarters, but up front the LED lighting system is pure classy Kia.
What’s it go like?
Our Australian vernacular has wonderful phrases like “It goes like a shot dog” or “quicker than a docker to the pub on a Friday”. There is 510Nm available from 1300 revs and it is there until 4500rpm. This means immensely user-friendly driveability and means the space shuttle doesn’t get a look in when the loud pedal is hammered.
There’s a genuine push towards the seat cushion, and the rear will squiggle off the line before the rear tyres, a pair of 255/35s from Continental, hook up like superglue. The bi-modal exhaust has modes that effectively activate or switch off the angry noises the quad tipped exhaust emits. To do so lessens the overall aural experience, as the V6 has a genuine snarl when provoked and it’s a helluva intoxicating sound.
There are three suspension settings which, like most driveline settings as well, are available via the touchscreen — but it’s a little confusing.
A dial in the console used to select drive modes, such as Comfort or Sport, doesn’t line up with the sub-menu settings, so the dial can say Sport but suspension and steering can in fact be Comfort. Yes, there’s the engine tune to consider but when you can dial up Comfort for the drive and Sports for the suspension.
Either way the ride quality is spot on. Kia’s really gone to town here and there’s marked yet still comfortable difference between the levels. Once a bit of time with the car has passed, it’s hard not to smile, simply being inside it.
Steering is precise and fingertip controlled. Throttle steering is here too, with a deft right foot telling the front end just how much pressure it’s under in turns. And, as mentioned, that immense spread of torque is so eaily useable when needed — but it’s not intimidating either. It actually makes gentle driving easier.
Watching the fuel tank empty when using the engine the way the driving gods intended
Heads Up Display not flexible enough
Potential conflicts of interest with drive settings
The bottom line?
In HiChroma Red it attracted eyeballs like kids to lollies. It’s a distinctive shape albeit with some definable Euro influences. There’s plenty of room, stylish lines inside, and it’s such a bag of fun when pushed, and docile like a sleeping cat when not. The only real thing the Stinger suffers from is bias. Bias because it’s a grunty, front-engine/rear wheel driven car from a Korean brand once better known for economical but boring “shopping trolleys.” The irony is that many who express that bias will do so while watching a Korean TV or writing on a Korean smartphone.