THE Stinger is a wonderful thing. But can it be a Kia?
Sure, Kia makes lots of excellent cars, but nothing else like this.
Kia is a big player with crossovers and SUVs. Think Sportage and Sorento. Good electric cars too – the Soul and e-Niro and soon, the stunning EV6. Modern cars of fashionable kinds.
The Stinger, on the other hand, plays it old-school. Look at its beautiful low-slung body. It just oozes classic glamour.
Under the lengthy hood you find a big, charismatic V6 petrol engine. Not one of those cut-down four-cylinder jobs you get everywhere else. It’s rear-wheel drive too. Proper.
There’s no whiff of hybrid power. About the most powerful electric motors on-board are the ones that adjust your seat.
Despite the Koreans being global masters at digital devices, the Stinger has actual round clocks for its instruments, not a screen. So does such a traditional car feel out of date on 2021’s roads? No way. It reminds you why you enjoy driving.
The performance is muscular and the engine sounds stirring. A pair of turbos squish you out of bends and swallow greedy overtakes. The auto transmission wants to shift up too often, but you can over-rule it using the steering-wheel paddles.
Superb steering gives your hands a lovely direct connection to the road, so you feel confident throwing yourself into a bend.
Being so low, the Stinger doesn’t have to contend with the untidy body lean of an SUV. It’s taut and accurate. But it’ll still settle down for a quiet, smooth motorway cruise. Then you find it isn’t so old-fashioned after all.
It has all the latest driver-assist gadgetry: radar cruise control, assisted lane-keeping, head-up display. It all works a treat.
Cameras all around the outside show images on the centre screen, so you can see each wheel rim.
It might be a big car but they help you with width restrictors and tight parking. If you kerb an alloy you really are being stupid.
Talking of size, you’d get more room inside an SUV. The Stinger’s back seat feels a bit dark and cramped because of the low roof and small windows.
It’s a hatchback but the boot is on the shallow side.
Still, you knew something so stylish wasn’t going to be the most practical car in the world, didn’t you? Unfortunately, there are a couple of other issues.
KIA STINGER GT S
Engine: 3-litre V6 turbo
Power: 361hp, 510Nm
0-62mph: 4.9 secs
Top speed: 167mph
First, fuel consumption. The big engine and heavy body mean not much better than 25mpg, and high CO2-based company car tax.
Second, it’s a Kia. Your badge-snob friends will snigger because you didn’t just put your £43k into the obvious BMW or Audi.
But if they actually know their cars, they’ll see you did a smart thing.