You know those ‘Oo’ moments in life; those ‘OMG’ common abbreviation moments that percolate through the brain? I had one of those recently.
It was when the doorbell rang, and the first words the vehicle delivery driver said to me were: “You are going to like this.” I walked up the gravel driveway to my ‘OMG’ moment in the shape of a Stinger GT S, Kia’s first grand tourer and first rear-wheel-drive car in the UK. Utterly gorgeous, my dear friends. It was clear that Kia had created something rather special when, a short time later in the centre of Lincoln, I overheard two lads chatting as they walked slowly past the car’s back end. “Well, I would never have thought that that was a Kia,” commented one. Stopping for a glance back, did I detect signs of envy? Very possibly, because, as lookers go, the Stinger has it all.
Sleek and elegant, the Stinger GT S has been six years in the making. Kia can be applauded for being brave enough to step outside of their comfort zone and produce a vehicle of such immense refinement and the fastest accelerating Kia ever, boasting 0-60mph in a blistering 4.7 seconds. I know, because I tried it on several occasions on Lincolnshire’s long, straight back roads. Powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, I skipped between the eight-speed automatic gearbox and the paddles located comfortably behind the steering wheel, and realised such an adrenalin rush that I found myself constantly having to wipe the mad-cap grin off my face. At speed, the car’s aerodynamics come into play, with air curtains and finned grills reducing wake as turbulent air passes around the 19-inch alloy wheels and tyres. Hardly noticeable is the marginally tapered bodywork and the slight ducktail shape of the rear spoiler, which add to the aerofoil profile. And yet it all comes together in one magnificent beast of a car.
The Stinger, however, is not just about its brutal speed, but also its extraordinary comfort. This is a world-leading, fastback-style five-door grand tourer and the first of what will eventually be a five-model Stinger range. How pleasing is that? My vehicle featured electronic suspension damping and brakes co-developed with Brembo. That aside, I was mightily impressed with the full connectivity and head-up display (HUD) of essential driver information cast on to the windscreen. Neat. It might sound daft, but as I slid into the low-slung Nappa leather driver’s seat and placed my hands on the D-shaped steering wheel, I felt truly at home in a vehicle which on the one level was totally alien to me, and yet conversely I felt I had known for years. Perhaps because it exhibited those classic grand tourer proportions of old; more precisely, because I felt I could have pointed her nose south to the French Riviera and alighted as fresh as a daisy.
Instead, I opted for long days out around the quiet but challenging byways of the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds, with the long, sweeping bends, dips and hollows, all of which afforded me the opportunity to enjoy the comfort, luxury and power of the Stinger. It also enabled me to check out the ride quality, which was ever compliant and assured, and what a comfort it was to know that under that bonnet was a power horse simply ready to be unleashed at any given moment.
Let me return to my delivery driver, who was also to comment: “The Stinger is presently selected for ‘Comfort’, which you might like to consider remaining in, unless you intend on taking it on a track.” Not that Kia would allow for that, but when you tell someone not to do something, they do, that is human nature. The Drive Selector Mode offers Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Smart settings. This level of flexibility for the driver also requires different levels of steering effort. For example, Comfort mode reduces the steering effort, so the driver experiences a more measured response at cruising speed, whereas in Sport mode, increased on-centre steering effort is necessary, with the shorter gearing reducing the need for larger steering inputs.
I gradually worked my way through the modes until I hit upon Sport mode. Suffice to say that I never made it to Sport+, being happy to return to Comfort mode. Crazy as it sounds, Kia has adopted an Active Sound system for the Stinger, which enhances the engine note via the car’s audio system rather than through an actuator which channels noise into the cabin, so if you enjoy hearing the engine at work, then Kia have sorted that for you. If you want the sound to be louder and more aggressive – of course you do! – then you simply switch modes.
New to Kia the Stinger may well be, but drivers will still benefit from the manufacturer’s industry-leading, seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, which comes supplied as standard.
According to Peter Schreyer, Kia’s President of Design and Chief Design Officer, the Stinger will fundamentally change the global image of Kia. “It will revolutionise the way people think about us. It’s going to propel us upwards into a different era.” Taking pride of place in Kia’s fleet, it is impossible to argue against that, and who would want to, anyway.
Text and Images | © Michael Cowton | Essential Journeys
Test vehicle: Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 ‘GT S’
OTR price £40,495
Engine capacity: 3,342cc
No. of Cylinders: 6
No. of Valves: 24
Max Power (bhp/rpm): 365 @ 6,000
Fuel Consumption mpg & emmissions:
Extra Urban: 36.2
CO2 g/km: 225