Jet-set Kia

unleashes the

Stinger

Kia Stinger, 2017, front, action
Kia Stinger, 2017, side, action
Kia Stinger, 2017, rear, action
Kia Stinger, 2017, interior
Kia Stinger, 2017, display screen
Kia Stinger, 2017, bonnet vent
Kia Stinger, 2017, V6 engine
Kia Stinger, 2017, side vent
Kia Stinger, 2017, brakes
Kia Stinger, 2017, instrument panel
Kia Stinger, 2017, rear seats
Kia Stinger, 2017, boot
Kia Stinger, 2017, boot, maximum
Kia Stinger at Newquay Airport, action
Kia Stinger at Newquay Airport, solo

KIA is showing its adventurous side with the launch of a stunning new gran turismo model that would look just as at home sweeping along the French Riviera mingling with the jet-set as it does powering along the UK countryside.

It's called the Stinger which conjures up all sorts of images of sporting prowess and the four-door fastback-style hatchback delivers driving capabilities that perfectly suit the name.

Available in three trim levels called GT Line, GT Line S and GT S, the Stinger is Kia's first rear-wheel drive car to be launched into the UK market and is priced from £31,995 to £40,495.

All models have an eight-speed automatic gearbox but drivers can select from three engines. There is a 2.0-litre 244bhp T-GDi petrol version, a 2.2-litre 197bhp CRDi diesel or the mighty 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turbo V6 T-GDi petrol unit which helps to power the fastest Kia ever from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 168mph.

The Stinger is certainly an attention-grabber and during our road trip from Newquay in Cornwall across our very own English Riviera to South East England, we were approached by a number of people who were attracted to the car.

Most were pleasantly surprised to hear it was a Kia but they were certainly impressed with the vehicle's styling and its performance capabilities as we reeled off the stats.

And it's easy to see why because the Stinger is beautifully designed with curvaceous sweeping lines, a long rippled bonnet, muscular shoulders, short front overhangs, finned gills behind the wheel arches, a large grille and sporty air intakes.

The interior has an upmarket, premium feel to it too with the likes of Nappa leather sports seats that can be heated or cooled, a wing-designed leather dashboard, a D-shaped heated steering wheel and a chrome-trimmed grab-handle gear stick.

On-board technology is plentiful boasting the likes of a 15-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, head-up display, dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth, a wireless charger, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus the range-topping Stinger GT S is linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom which keeps occupants right up to date with live traffic reports, speed camera locations, weather reports and point-of-interest information such as nearby Kia dealerships, fuel stations, hotels and restaurants. All these details are displayed on a crystal clear eight-inch colour touchscreen.

Comfort levels within the car are excellent and there is ample space in the back for a couple of adults (three at a squeeze) to travel in comfort. The two outer rear seats can also be heated.

Due to the sloping roof design, taller adults might find the head space in the back a little cramped, but only those over six foot.

But with family holidays in mind, the Stinger needs to be a practical choice and it succeeds on that count too thanks to a generously-sized boot with a luggage capacity that ranges from 406 to 1,114 litres depending how the split-folding rear seats are configured.

Elsewhere there are a number of convenient storage options, including door pockets, cup holders, covered trays, a sunnies compartment and a large glovebox which is essential as the Stinger appears to have the world's largest and most comprehensive manual.

We tried out the headline act - the Stinger GT S priced at £40,495.

This model, on 19-inch wheels, can blast its way to 60mph from a standing start in 4.7 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 168mph.

In fact, on a private runway, some display drivers clocked up 161mph in the Stinger and apparently, there was still more power to come.

Obviously, with those driving capabilities the economy is going to take a hit, but in fairness to Kia it's not too bad with combined fuel efficiency of 28.5mpg with carbon emissions of 225g/km.

The power-adjusted seats, along with the electrically-adjustable steering wheel, mean the driver can quickly get the perfect position and these settings can be stored.

The head-up display can also be adjusted so it is in the driver's eye-line and it can show information such as speed, navigation instructions, audio, cruise control and blind spot detection onto the windscreen. Thankfully the amount of data can be customised to avoid an information overload.

And when it comes to performance, the Stinger is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The acceleration through the eight-speed gearbox is blisteringly fast and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles if you fancy taking a little more control.

The road-holding is excellent and the steering is precise with plenty of driver feedback. Being a rear wheel drive model it can be a little twitchy if thrown into bends too enthusiastically, but it never shows any sign of losing control.

The driver can toggle through five different driving modes called Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ to alter the gear shifts and throttle responses. There is also an Active Engine Sound System to relay the engine note through to the cabin, which is another first for Kia.

The over-the-shoulder visibility is not great and the rear window is fairly narrow, but the car is fitted with all manner of safety systems and driver aids to help out.

These include autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot detection with rear traffic alert, high beam assist, driver fatigue warning and an active bonnet set-up that offers protection for pedestrians in the event of a collision.

It's these systems that Kia believes will help the Stinger achieve top marks when it is tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.

All in all, the Kia Stinger is a fantastic new arrival that is the ultimate proof that the Korean marque is well capable of competing with the premium brands. It is beautifully designed, boasts top levels of equipment, delivers outstanding driving capabilities and is very competitively priced.

The GT S is the only model currently on sale with deliveries expected in January - the other versions will be released in February.

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