Kia isn’t a car company that conjures up images of desirable and fast cars. Until now. The Stinger is a genuinely quick vehicle, as attested by a 4.9-second official time to 100km/h from the twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6, eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. In the top-spec GT tested here, drive-away prices climb to about $65,000 and include adaptive dampers, Brembo brakes, a sunroof, classy head-up display and a decent set of speakers. Starting to see the appeal?
Styling is a step up
As an expression of what Kia can do as a top-end mainstream carmaker, the Stinger shows the future is bright. The sheet metal is stylish from any angle and the car is often mistaken for a European model, to the point where forums debate the merits of debadging the car. The interior is almost as good and a huge step up from any Kia that has come before. The leather stitching is tight and precise, the instruments are easy to read and come with a multitude of settings. The connectivity levels extend to Android and Apple phone mirroring and the in-built infotainment is easy to drive.
The optional exhaust is a must
The biggest criticism of the Kia Stinger is the performance element is acoustically muted in standard trim. Put bluntly, a Stinger has all the resonance of a diesel-powered bus until you part with $2700 for the optional and locally developed bi-model exhaust. Even then the engine lacks the sonic bite of a decent European turbo, although the speedo indicates it isn’t lacking in get-go. Not having a sound to match the looks is a glaring oversight in a car pitched at traditional performance sedan fans — most of whom would have owned local V8s. Both Holden and Ford could crank out a decent tailpipe note.
You have to spend extra for safety
The GT tested here earned a five-star rating from after being tested in Europe, a location where all Stinger versions are sold with autonomous emergency braking. Kia Australia opted not to fit AEB on its base models — a situation it is now fixing — so the score for those variants dropped to three stars. Standard kit on the GT is impressive and includes blind-spot alert, active lane-departure intervention, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.
A lot of thought has gone into the design
Kia has kitted the Stinger GT with its latest and greatest toys and it shows in almost every aspect of the car. The seven-inch TFT driver’s display is clear and logical, there’s Qi-compatible wireless phone charging, a 15-speaker stereo, limited-slip differential and a head-up display that features icons on either side of the screen to show in which direction blind-spot alert emanates from.