By Mike Torpey on 2018-03-04 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Stinger's trick in
THERE'S a sting in the tale of a classy new model called - the Stinger.
The name may conjure up images of a fiery, razor-sharp and compact sports car, but the latest offering from Korean brand Kia slings a real surprise.
High powered it may be, yet the Stinger hasn't been created for brutal pace at the expense of comfort - it's a substantial five-door ‘gran turismo'.
As Kia points out: "It's about the joy of the journey - where getting to the final destination can be an anti-climax."
Cool looking, well pieced together and beautifully engineered, the Stinger comes with a classic pedigree courtesy of its stylist.
When Kia European design chief Gregory Guillaume was growing up in 1970s France he was beguiled by the elegant grand tourers he saw ferrying the rich and famous from Paris to the Riviera.
And the sketches he drew as a boy eventually became the inspiration for Kia's 2011 GT Concept and six years later, the Stinger itself.
In order for Kia to produce a car like this in the first place the company had to reach the position in vehicle manufacture in which it now finds itself - a design led brand rather than a volume one rooted purely in value.
That's not to say the Stinger isn't worth every penny. On the contrary, what you get from a starting point of Â£31,995 is outstanding value for money.
Five versions are up for grabs, all rear-wheel drive with turbocharged direct injection engines paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The GT-Line and GT-Line S variants offer the choice of a 2.0-litre T-GDi petrol engine developing 244bhp and a 2.2 CRDi diesel with 197bhp, while the GT-S comes exclusively with a 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turbo V6.
Comfort and a smooth ride is paramount in the Stinger, each model of which is also covered by Kia's seven-year transferable warranty.
So the snug power-adjustable seats and flat-bottomed steering wheel are heated and, along with the door armrests and gearshifter, are also in leather.
And a mix of satin chrome, aluminium and suede-feel gives an added ambiance to the cabin as a whole.
That's in addition to an LCD screen, reversing camera, auto air-con and a customisable head-up display while every model has a DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto played through a nine-speaker sound system.
Higher spec models get 15 speakers along with something called Clari-Fi, which restores the sound often lost when digital music files are heavily compressed, plus the exotically named QuantumLogic Surround Sound which redistributes signals from the original recording to deliver multi-dimensional playback.
Conditions on the Stinger driving exercise couldn't have been more challenging - much of the 90-mile route being completed in a raging blizzard.
Having driven the 3.3-litre V6 a few days earlier I was expecting the 2.0-litre petrol version to be lightweight by comparison.
That couldn't have been further from reality - the car's 244bhp of wallop ensures 0-62 acceleration in 5.8 seconds (compared to 4.7 from the V6) while the potential top speed is 149mph.
The transmission has up to five different shift and throttle settings, accessed via a Drive Mode Selector and there are also steering wheel paddles and a limited slip differential.
A variety of roads, including some in a treacherous state, didn't faze the Stinger in the least - smooth and appealingly damped in Comfort mode, firmer and a little more edgy in Sport - and in the conditions it was reassuring to know that the Stinger's brakes have benefited from more development than any Kia model to date.
As for fuel economy we managed a return of 32.5 miles per gallon - terrific given the circumstances - compared to the official Combined figure of 35.8mpg.
Kia predicts it will sell around 1,800 Stingers in the UK this year, with a fairly even split between engines.
Those buyers can rest assured they will be getting an authentic modern grand tourer that's both comfortable and luxurious.
Prices are from £31,995 for a Stinger 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line to £40,495 for a 3.3 V6 GT S. The 2.2 CRDi diesel starts at £33,895 in GT-Line trim.
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