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In review: The all-new Kia Stinger

Motoring Journalist Tim Barnes-Clay takes the all-new Kia Stinger for a spin.

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger

South Korean car giant Kia has already shown the world what it can do in the sports utility vehicle (SUV) arena. Its Sportage and Sorento have been mega-hits here in the United Kingdom, altering the way we see the marque.

A couple of decades or less ago, Kia cars didn’t have the best reputation. Now, the automaker is the one to have the last laugh – with a status right up there with the finest of today’s mainstream motor manufacturers.

The Kia Stinger will unquestionably take the East Asian business the extra mile and drive it into places it has never seen before. And that’s because Kia has never constructed a grand tourer before. It’s a fine-looking set of wheels, and even has American muscle-car elements about it – especially at the back.

The Kia Stinger is not cut-price, though. And why should it be? After all, you get what you pay for in this world. You’ll be looking at clearing over £40,000 out of your piggy bank to get your mitts on the top-of-the-range trim. But I promise you this: you’ll want a Stinger once you’ve seen it in the metal. Images are one thing, but you have got to hear the powerful engine and the melody from the car’s four tailpipes to truly appreciate this beast. Then, sit in the Stinger, get behind the wheel and test-drive it. This head-turning car with its coupé-esque profile has oomph. In fact, it goes like a train stoked with rocket fuel.

The flagship Kia Stinger GT S 3.3 T-GDi, as assessed here, smashes out 510Nm of torque, sprinting to 60mph in a rapid 4.7 seconds. These are considerable figures, and they put the Stinger in the die-hard performance saloon sector.

Obviously, none of us wants to have our driving licence taken away, so unless you’re on a track day or at an old airfield, you’ll be more attracted the Stinger’s other features. The 3.3-litre V6 24-valve turbocharged engine revs with magnificent progression and answers instantly to throttle input. There are special drive modes you can fool around with, too. For example, in Sport or Sport+ settings, the Stinger growls with determination. But the soundtrack is never overpowering – it’s simply there in the background, stirring your senses.

The GT S utilises an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and in its other drive setting, ‘Comfort’, the box works through the cogs slickly. Switch to one of the Sport modes and you can fox-trot through the gears by using the paddles on the Stinger’s steering wheel.

The commanding Kia handles extraordinarily well, too. And it should do. The Stinger is driven via its rear-wheels, making it an authentic driver’s car. There are fistfuls of traction, even when pressing hard on the gas pedal out of an apex. Okay, the steering feel is a tad numb, but the GT S never makes you feel anything other than safe and secure.

Furthermore, Kia has stuffed the all-new Stinger with masses of kit. Equipment comprises a touchscreen mated to a sat-nav, and there are connectivity options by means of Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The parking sensors are a handy feature too, and the audio comes from aficionados Harman/Kardon. If that’s not enough, a head-up display is cast on to the Stinger’s windscreen, so you can glance at the sat-nav's map without taking your peepers off the road ahead. Oh, and there are heated and vented seats to keep you and your passengers cosily warm or comfortably cool.

I can’t ignore the work Kia has done to make sure the Stinger is a safe vehicle, either. The new model introduces aids such as autonomous braking, lane keep assist, blind spot detection and heavy-duty Brembo brakes.

Room is top-notch. In the front, there’s lots of space to get comfy, and finding a suitable driving position is pleasingly straightforward. In the rear, there’s ample legroom for two six-foot-tall occupants, and headroom isn’t bad either, given the sloping, coupé-like roofline. The boot, which is accessed via an electrically operated lift-back, is also sizeable at 406-litres.

The only thing to drizzle on the flagship Stinger’s parade slightly is the meagre mpg. A 3.3-litre V6 petrol-propelled turbo is never going to win any accolades for efficiency, so be prepared for high 20s mpg and emissions of 225g/km CO2. Road tax will also set you back £450 for the first five years of owning the car. However, bearing in mind the performance and equipment you get, the Stinger GT S is a virtual bargain when compared with rivals, such as Audi’s S5 Sportback.

If you don’t want mega-performance, there’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol Stinger on offer. This car’s still quick, boasting a maximum speed of 149mph. Then there is a 2.2-litre turbo diesel, which is good for 143mph. Both these cars house the same automatic eight-speed gearbox as the GT-S. The thriftiest engine is the diesel, which will do up to 50.4mpg and emits 147g/km of CO2. The 2.0-litre petrol’s figures are 35.8mpg and 181g/km.

So, if you don’t mind paying out more at the petrol pumps and spending a chunk in company car tax, then you’ll love the Stinger GT S like you have never loved a car before. It’s a finely-balanced, quick-witted, good-looking and voluminous vehicle that will get your heart racing. It is unquestionably a proper coupé-meets-grand tourer and a comfortably compelling one at that.

Pros and cons

  • Looks √
  • Comfort √
  • Performance √
  • Kit √
  • Pricey to run X

Fast facts (Stinger GT S 3.3 T-GDi 8-speed auto ISG – as tested)

  • Max speed: 168 mph
  • 0–60 mph: 4.7 secs
  • Combined mpg: 28.5
  • Engine layout: 3342cc six-cylinder petrol turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 370
  • CO2: 225 g/km
  • Price: £39,995*

*Price correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Clay

Motoring journalist