By Steve Berry
When Kia unveiled their GT concept back in 2011, I assumed it would either never reach production looking like that or reach production but fail entirely to be a viable alternative to offerings from BMW, Audi or Mercedes.
Six years later Kia revealed their “Gran Turismo” model and decided the name “GT” was too bland for such a leap-forward in their ambitions so called their new halo model the “Stinger”.
This five-door, five-seater, coupe-style grand tourer takes Kia into a new market sector going up against the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback. It is arguably the best-looking of them all.
Front air curtains, wheel-arch gills, a smooth underbody tray and integrated rear diffuser all help smooth the airflow and keep the Stinger planted.
There are five models to choose from: A 2-litre, 4-cylinder, 244bhp petrol model in either GT-Line trim (from £32,025 OTR) or GT-Line ‘S’ trim (from £35,525 OTR).
The same trim levels are also available with a 2.2-litre, 197bhp diesel option for £34,225 or £37,725 respectively.
The range-topping GT-S features a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine, producing 365bhp and will rocket from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds and even at £40,535 represents astonishing value for money.
Just look at the Stinger too. It stands out in a crowd of BMWs, Audis and Jaguars and is one of those rare cars which actually look better in the flesh.
So, the Kia Stinger is a bit of a looker but I can still hear the naysayers claiming anything north of £30,000 is just too much for a Kia and to some extent I would agree.
In the Stinger everyone wants to know what it is and when you mention the word “Kia” they become more interested.
But what could propel the Kia Stinger to the top of your list are the features which are included in EVERY model as standard.
Pause for breath…:five-doors, an 8-speed automatic gearbox, keyless entry, push-button start/stop, dual-zone climate, heated front seats which are 8-way electrically adjustable with a memory function on the driver’s side, heated steering wheel, all-round parking sensors with a rear-view camera, 8in touch-screen with Sat Nav, Apple Car Play and Android Auto with Voice Control, Kia Connected Services, Bluetooth with music-streaming and a nine-speaker audio with under-seat sub-woofer.
There are also auto lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, leather upholstery, alloy pedals and even a configurable head-up display.
Then there are the safety and driving dynamics which include: a limited slip diff, speed limit display, high beam assist and autonomous emergency braking as well as the usual auto start/stop, hill start assist and driver attention warning.
The Stinger also delivers with an interior that is a league above anything that Kia has produced before.
I spent a week with the entry-level T-GDI ‘GT-Line’ model and found the front seats hug you nicely although can be a little firm for longer journeys.
The driving position is good and with plenty of adjustment available – including four-way electronic adjustment for the steering wheel.
Visibility is very good out front and to the sides but with that sloping roof-line rear visibility is restricted.
The flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel feels good in your hands and I like the chunky gear-selector finished in leather and chrome.
The eight-inch touchscreen is responsive and intuitive enough not to cause you any problems and the plethora of configurable options will please the nerd in you.
The Stinger does what it was designed to do very well. It was designed not as a sports car but as a grand tourer.
My journeys in the Stinger were certainly pleasant. It’s one of the quietest cars I’ve driven recently and that’s why I think this 2.0-litre petrol model will be the best seller.
The eight-speed auto box isn’t the quickest to change up but it is smooth and it does allow you trap on a bit when you want.
The 2.0-litre is capable of the 0-60 dash in just 5.8 seconds and it does it without histrionics.
The turbo-charged engine has plenty of poke for all situations and overtaking on the motorway is a doddle.
The Stinger feels like a proper rear-wheel drive car in that the power and grip doesn’t compromise the steering which is sharp and grin-inducing.
Go see one, sit in it and then take it for a drive. If the Kia Stinger fails to meet your requirements then I’m afraid you may be a genuine, bona fide badge-snob – and that could cost you dearly.
AT A GLANCE:
Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDI ‘GT-Line’
OTR Price: £31,995
Engine: 2.0 Turbo Petrol
Power: 244 bhp
Transmission: 8-speed Auto
0-62mph: 5.8 secs
Top Speed: 149 mph
Combined Economy: 35.8 mpg
CO2: 181 g/km