Kia Stinger a GT

sensation

Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, front, static
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, side, static
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, rear, static
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, front, action
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, side, action
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, rear, action
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, interior
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, instrument panel
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, display screen
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, gear lever
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, rear seats
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, side, detail
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, bonnet vent
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, engine
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, boot

A KIA the likes of which there's never been will be on the road in the New Year showing that the Korean car maker can play the German big hitters at their own game.

The new Kia Stinger is more than a match for the likes of the BMW 4 Series or the Audi S5 and it's coming at a fraction of the price.

The name is a mere appetiser for what's in store and in the metal the Stinger looks every bit a high performance grand tourer that packs an astonishing punch.

Under the skin of the flagship Stinger GT S is a 3.3-litre V6 engine boosted to 365bhp which delivers super-sport statistics of 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 168mph.

That's hooked up to a rear-wheel-drive configuration, an eight-speed auto box and a suspension set up to allow the car to flow with composure.

Factor in some clever electronics to change the drive modes and it's a car that for £40,495 delivers in stupendous fashion.

For Kia, the Stinger is a game changer and proof of a pudding that has been bubbling away since Kia's design chief Peter Schreyer was joined by engineering expert Albert Biermann two years ago.

With Schreyer's roots stretching back to Audi and Biermann poached from BMW where he headed up the M Performance division, the prospect has always been tantalising.

The result is a true grand tourer which will satisfy the whims of drivers who relish cars that perform on every front.

That the Stinger does in no uncertain fashion as we discovered driving the GT S hundreds of miles across the south of England from Cornwall to Sussex.

Setting out from Newquay where the Stinger showed its awesome power during a ‘V-Max' run along the runway at the former RAF St Mawgan airbase, the car proved a delight to drive along some of the most scenic coastal roads in the country.

Its fastback lines are highlighted by power-conveying highlights such as louvred vents on the bonnet and behind the wheel arches and with four exhausts protruding from the rear the Stinger has real muscle machine presence.

Brembo brake callipers within the wheels and a subtle boot spoiler complete the picture yet inside it's a proper family five seater with a good amount of room front and back.

Boot space ranges from 406 to 1,114 litres which compliments the Stinger's touring image and while the GT S sits on 19-inch alloys with 225/40 R19 tyres at the front and even wider 255/35 R19 tyres at the rear, there is nothing harsh about the ride.

Like every other aspect of the car, the cockpit sets new standards for Kia and the range topper can be had with grey, black or red interior finishes. Leather upholstery and aluminium-effect trim add to the upmarket status and there's an intimate feel from behind the wheel.

A good amount of ‘proper' controls - not a minimalist touchscreen approach where most functions are buried away in the software - enable the driver to feel in command and that adds to the enjoyment.

Flick into sport mode and the Stinger comes alive, sharpened up in every department yet retaining its poise and composure through adaptive damping. In this setting there is artificial noise enhancement to the exhaust note giving the V6 a healthy roar.

A sport+ setting slackens off the stability controls and pushed hard the Stinger can feel a little tail happy but that's engineered in to allow for some drifting where the conditions allow.

With Biermann having been responsible for BMW's legendary M machines, the Stinger's dynamics are out of the top drawer.

It is remarkably rewarding to drive and the power delivery under acceleration is exceptional. It is not harsh or raucous but smooth and constant yet utterly venomous - and that sets the Stinger apart in the high performance GT arena.

Even when shifting manually there's nothing abrupt about its manners and even driven for maximum pleasure the Stinger averaged 27 to the gallon - just short of the official fuel return of 28.5 mpg with emissions of 225g/km.

A head up display helps the driver focus on the road ahead while other technology includes a TFT information display in the instrument cluster as well as an eight-inch touchscreen standing proud of the dash for the sat nav and infotainment systems.

Lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts as well as automatic emergency braking and driver fatigue monitors are all part and parcel of the Stinger's safety kit while the electronic parking brake comes with an auto hold function that is so useful in traffic.

To drive, the Stinger puts its German counterparts to shame such is its agility and suppleness although it is not quite as refined nor does it feel as robust.

Nevertheless, it's thousands of pounds cheaper and the only option is a £645 special paint finish.

Pound for pound the Stinger is right on the mark and being a Kia it comes with a seven year warranty which in this league is unprecedented.

The Stinger GT S signals a new direction for Kia and the halo model will be joined during the course of 2018 by a 2.2-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre tubro petrol priced from £31,995.

While not quite as awe inspiring as the GT S, none are going to be slouches. The diesel is said to be good for 143mph with a fuel return of 50.4mpg and the 2.0-litre turbo is pushing 150mph and rated at 35.8mpg.

Together they give Kia a line up few would have imagined and show proper premium potential from a brand that's now equipped to deliver the goods.

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