In 2011, at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt, Kia Motors unveiled their GT concept car - a sleek-looking Gran Turismo that had the looks that would promise power, speed, grace, and all the lovely things that can potentially come with a Gran Turismo. At the time I remember thinking that that would be very cool - but I wondered if Kia, who for the most part are a play-it-safe brand, would put their money where their mouths were and produce such a GT. Well... they did, and it's impressive. Let me introduce you to the Kia Stinger. A name that's hard to forget, and a look that will be etched in the minds of motorists for years to come.
From first glance the Kia Stinger GT is an awesome sight, and when you turn the 3.3-litre TwinTurbo V6 engine over its sounds nearly match the same levels of power. I say nearly because whilst there is a clear V6 rumble, it's quite refined - that is until you rev and make this beast growl.
In the last few years, I find that Kia are a brand that are in transformation. Their models are becoming more exciting. Look at the curves on the Kia C’eed, the quality of the latest Sportage, and the finesse of the new Sorento. While the Niro isn't exactly the most thrilling car in the world, it was a notice of intent to change from Kia. It was through Niro that we met the Kia hybrid system. Then a few months ago, the Stonic came along and Kia showed that there's more to them as a brand than the likes of the Soul, the Rio and the underrated Carens. The Kia Stinger GT is now the company's poster child. This intoxicating piece of hardware shows to the world that Kia can now do Gran Turismo.
While I may be glorifying the Stinger, I will be the first to say that there are some items on this car that less than impress me. The air vents on the bonnet for example. They're fake, and for a car that oozes power and has the engine to match it, I feel there should be no place for lies. Yes, the vents look dramatic but the fact that they're fake really irks me. This is now a common thing among new cars, and I'll even go as far as to say that I forgive the fake twin exhausts in the 1.0 Volkswagen Golf - because it's just a 3-cylinder 1.0-litre machine. With respect to potential owners of that particular Golf, half of them may not even know that they're fake. But for a car of such muscle to don fake vents for style on the bonnet is just plain wrong. The four exhausts to the rear however, are the real deal.
Apart from that though, this rear-wheel drive car is extraordinary. Extraordinary because my few days with the car showed me that people were impressed, but couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the Kia badge. You see, one wouldn’t usually associate Kia which such power and imposing style. This is a real head turner, and over the last few days I’ve had numerous conversations with passers-by. One guy pulled up beside us on the car park that is the M50 motorway in Dublin and started shouting questions at us through our closed windows about what the car was, what size was the engine, how many horses and more. Another guy approached me while I was parked and waiting for my wife. He chatted with me (and the car) for at least twenty minutes. While shooting our forthcoming video review, we were once again approached by numerous people – all of whom were in awe.
Unfortunately, I only had the Kia Stinger on normal roads. Which means that my driving was tame by the standards of what this car can achieve – which also might indicate that this car in GT form may not be ideal for law-abiding Irish drivers. But even when tamed, you do notice the power delivered through the rear wheels and the nearly seamless eight-speed, Kia-owned, gearbox in action. Cornering is precise too and there is excellent feedback through the steering wheel. When you get the chance to go from 0-100km/h you also get a chance to be thrown back into your seat as the car races from standstill to 100 in just 4.9 seconds. I didn’t time it, but it felt quick as the G’s forced me back into my extremely large and comfortable seat.
There are numerous drive modes in the car; Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. These are self-explanatory. My test route covered circa 450km and in the end, I returned an economy of 11.8 l/100km – which is probably a record!
The seats within the car are brilliantly comfortable, and the quality of materials used around the car seem to be good. It would’ve been nice though had they presented the dash in a more interesting way. The infotainment system is easy to use, but it looks too much like what you get in their cars already – I’m nit-picking now!
This car, on paper, is said to be up against the likes of the Audi A5 and the BMW 4 Series. Of course, it’s not that often that you’ll find a Kia in competition with such big hitters. You’d assume therefore that it wouldn’t have a chance against them. However, I’d disagree. Yes, the Stinger holds a badge that wouldn’t be as prestigious, and yes it has no history of performance cars. However, this has a couple of things that the competition doesn’t. Firstly, is price. The Kia Stinger GT with all of its V6, TwinTurbo, 370bhp glory comes to the market at a little under €67,000. Now… the S5 Sportback with its quicker 0-100bhp in 4.7 seconds and its 354hp will set you back just under €82,000, and the BMW 440i M Sport which covers that speed in 5.1 seconds and offers 326hp comes in at just over €74,000. There’s no doubting that the sales of the competition will be higher than the Stinger GT, but for a brand like Kia to enter this part of the market with such a good first attempt, you’d have to admit it’s impressive. Kia Ireland doesn’t reckon that they’ll sell too many of these, but when the 2.2-litre diesel hits the market in March 2018 from just over €53,000, it’ll be interesting to see what the sales will be like then.