Kia’s first effort at a sporty, mid-sized exec is more than solid
At the end of Kia’s production line, a bloke stands with a clipboard and pen, inspecting the new models before they’re sent on their way. On his clipboard, one sheet of paper with two words scribbled on it – reliable and affordable. He gives them a tick and moves on.
Until recently, that’s how things were done at Kia. Probably.
Those two words seemed to be the go-to for the South Korean carmaker at one time, but now they’re adding a few others into the mix. More recently, appeal has joined the list – and they’re running with it.
It’s a Kia?
What they’ve come up with is the Kia Stinger. In what’s a first for the manufacturer, they’ve built a car that’s billed as an Audi S5 alternative. Granted, it’s the top-spec GT S model that’s getting comparison with the S5, but that’s no discredit to the other options on offer.
It’s quite a lofty target, but that seems to be the Stinger’s main spur – Kia are making a point.
Coming with a choice of three engines and just as many trim levels (bear with), I tested the GT-Line S with the 2.2-litre diesel, that’s expected to make up the bulk of UK sales.
Now, first thing’s first – the Stinger looks quality. The standard shape is already ace, but with the added extras on the GT-Line S trim it’d be hard to not jump up a level.
Whether just admiring the Stinger’s sleek and sporty getup, or working out whether the Kia badge belonged on the grill, people were staring.
It’s almost a shame to be sitting behind the wheel, and not getting the same view that has pedestrians eyeing it up at the roadside.
That being said, the Stinger is just as nice to experience from the inside. The interior’s a nice mix of red leather and metallic detailing, and although the driving position is quite low, the seats are comfy and give a sportier ride height.
You’ll also spot the odd bit of fancy tech dotted about the cabin, too. The seats themselves are tricked up – heated and ventilated in the front, operated by flicking a toggle forwards or backwards.
Even the outer rear seats are heated. And with the top two trims there’s a wireless phone charger, as well. As someone who has little time for faffing with cables, this was a welcome feature.
That’s all topped off – pun only partly intended – with the electric sunroof and visor. In the UK’s temporarily tropical climate it might make sunburn more likely, but it’s a canny little extra nonetheless.
How does the Kia Stinger fare on the road?
Although the eight-speed auto – that’s fitted in all Stinger models – didn’t feel instant in the 2.2-litre, it got itself up to speed pretty quickly.
And it’s smooth. Impressively smooth, especially for a diesel. Upping gear was a doddle, and was done so without any noticeable change in engine noise. Despite not being as responsive as the 3.3-litre’s V6, it’ll still do 0-60 in just over seven seconds.
It’s a quick car, but one that manages to be smooth and relaxing at the same time. If it weren’t for the holographic mph count directed onto the windscreen, you wouldn’t be blamed for second-guessing how easily it climbs the speedo.
Anyhow, if you’re wanting a midsized saloon that’s big enough to carry the family, but also quick enough to have them shoved against the far corner as you throw a hard right, the 3.3-litre Stinger GT S is what you’re after – or if you’re an Aussie rozzer.
Pace, practicality, or both
The diesel alternative, however, offers decent pace and practicality. All of that with Kia’s signature 7-year warranty, and a host of fancy extras that you’d struggle to get for a similar price tag elsewhere, highlights this Kia Stinger model as a top pick.
The entry-level GT-Line with the 2.0-litre petrol engine starts at just above £30k, rising to around £40k for the GT S – a fair bit less than you’d fork out for an Audi S5. It also looks absolutely belter.
Unfortunately, Kia aren’t expecting to turnover huge numbers of the Stinger. Like I said, they were making a point. They were proving that they don’t just make reasonably priced cars, that they’re also capable of coming up with something that’s just as exciting to look at as it is to drive.
But now that they’ve proven that point, does that pave the way for more of the same? Now they’ve dipped a toe in the performance-spec pool, they might be ready to bomb into it.
For more on the Kia Stinger, get yourself over to www.lookers.co.uk/kia/new-cars/kia-stinger/