By Chris Dell
Relatively few cars are so well styled that they draw looks wherever they go. If you went back just a few years people simply wouldn’t have expected a Kia to join this relatively exclusive club – but that’s exactly what they have done with the launch of the Stinger.
The fastback styling places the car somewhere between a true coupé – typically with two doors and limited space in the back – and a quality saloon. It’s an appealing mix, combining the convenience of four doors and a large boot with an attractive, sporty appearance. And it’s not just the exterior that looks good: the interior is smart too.
Kia have broadened the car’s appeal by offering a good range of engines. At the top of the tree there’s a 365bhp 3.3-litre V6 that offers 0-60mph in less than five seconds and a top speed of 168mph. If you aren’t in that much of a hurry, the 244bhp 2-litre model should be more than quick enough (0-60 in 5.8s, 149mph top speed), or if it’s maximum economy you’re after, you’ll need to go for the diesel, which with 197bhp from its 2.2-litre engine can still top 140mph, though its 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds might sound a trifle pedestrian, compared to the petrol models.
All versions are rear wheel drive – the Stinger is the only rear wheel drive in Kia’s UK range – and all come with eight-speed automatic transmission: there is no manual option.
Pricing currently starts at just below £30,000 for the 2-litre model, courtesy of a Kia “customer saving” that is scheduled to run until the end of this year. The diesel starts at just over £34,000 and the V6 has a list price of £40,535 on the road.
We drove a 2-litre version and we found there was plenty of performance for all normal driving. It’s a good engine with useful urge throughout the rev range. One aspect that’s impressive is how well it continues to accelerate, even at higher speeds, and it steers with the fluidity one might expect from a rear wheel drive car.
The mode switch allows the driver to select a setting to suit his or her preferences, with options including ‘eco’, ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’. We found that ‘eco’ gave the smoothest drive, but it’s all a question of the feel you prefer.
The Stinger is more a car that’s designed to be in the classic GT mould, rather than to be a pseudo-racer, but it’s none-the-worse for that and if you point it down a good main road with sweeping bends you’ll find it’s in its element. Or as Kia put it, “Stinger is not a hard-edged sports car created to be brutally fast at the expense of comfort. Rather, it is about the joy of the journey, where getting to the final destination can be an anti-climax”.