Kia Stinger 3.3

T-GDi V6 GT S

Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S, face
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S, side
Kia Stinger, action rear
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S, rear
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S
Kia Stinger, boot
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S, back
Kia Stinger, front seats
Kia Stinger, dashboard

IT was always only going to be a matter of time before Kia took the plunge and produced a car outside of its mainstream line-up of models.

But anyone imagining the Stinger to be a small fiery sports car would be in for surprise.

Instead the Korean brand is harking back to the golden age of elegant high performance gran turismo cars with what is also the company's first rear wheel-drive model in Europe.

Although the Stinger evolved out of the GT Concept from as far back as 2011, Kia's big guns bided their time until they felt the moment was right - the point at which a car of this type would be sustainable within the Kia range.

What the company has produced is a classic grand tourer - long bonnet, broad shoulders, Coke bottle nip at the waist - with eye-catching style and executive comfort.

Five versions are up for grabs, all with turbocharged engines paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

And while the company insists the Stinger is not a hard-edged supercar born to be brutally fast at the expense of comfort, the range-topper we tested is quick with a capital Q.

Beneath the bonnet is a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 T-GDI (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection) engine producing 365bhp and is actually the fastest accelerating Kia ever, with a 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 168mph.

It is also the only model in the Stinger line-up to get GT-S trim, bringing with it the likes of electronic suspension damping and Brembo brakes.

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 grand tourer in the true sense of the word, we tested the big-engined Kia over a variety of surfaces, including the motorways and 'A' roads on which it really comes into its own.

Smooth and nicely damped in Comfort mode, firmer and noticeably more edgy in Sport, it was a joy to drive - even if it did struggle to average over 20 miles per gallon.

As for comfort and ambience, the Stinger's cabin features a mix of satin chrome, aluminium and suede-feel - all contributing to an upmarket feel.

And that's in addition to an LCD screen, reversing camera, auto air con and a customisable head-up display while every model in the line-up has a DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto relayed through a nine-speaker sound system.

Higher spec models like GT S 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.

Taking into account everything you get with the flagship Stinger the £40,495 price tag is not excessive, but buyers wanting to pay appreciably less can rest assured that even the entry level 2.0 GT-Line petrol version at £31,995 is a cracking vehicle.

It also has a direct injection engine, develops 255bhp, drives the rear wheels and is paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

FAST FACTS

Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S

Price: £40,495

Mechanical: 365bhp, 3,342cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via eight-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 168mph

0-62mph: 4.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 28.5

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 225g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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