Kia Stinger 3.3

T-GDI V6 GT S

Kia Stinger, 2017, front, action
Kia Stinger, 2017, side, action
Kia Stinger, 2017, rear, action
Kia Stinger, rear
Kia Stinger, interior
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, rear seats
Kia Stinger GT S, 2017, interior
Kia Stinger, 2017, boot
Kia Stinger, 2017, V6 engine

‘PEOPLE keep stopping to look at your car' - my friends remarked, as we sat watching an important football match that we increasingly lost interest in as it progressed when it wasn't going our way.

The Kia Stinger proved a suitable distraction, not just for us but also the pedestrians passing my driveway at the time.

There's no doubting the Stinger is a striking looking vehicle and it represents a pretty major departure for the Korean car maker from its traditional line-up.

When I first started driving Kia cars around 15 years ago they were cheap and cheerful alternatives to European and Japanese mainstream offerings.

Essentially they were what were traditionally referred to as bargain buys and aimed at people who weren't too bothered about badges and just wanted to get around on four wheels as cheaply as possible.

They got progressively better though and occasionally Kia would make big leaps in terms of quality and style, particularly with SUVs like the Sorento and Sportage.

In addition Kia reached the point where the cars being produced were pretty much on a par with those rivals they once sought to ape but undercut.

The Stinger also represents a big leap in that it is hoping to be a challenger to established premium German marques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Kia hope it will steal sales from the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback.

As far as looks go it ticks plenty of boxes and is sleek, elegant and stylish.

It has hints of the Optima but to my mind also looks like the kind of car Saab might be making now if it hadn't gone to the wall.

While it might not be quirky as such, it's certainly different and definitely appealing.

Kia made a shrewd move appointing former Audi design supremo Peter Schreyer some time back and the Stinger represents the pinnacle of his achievements thus far.

For the Stinger Kia also decided to buy in some serious engineering expertise with the hire of Albert Biermann, who previously worked for BMW's M division.

So, one can conclude that Kia really mean business as far as the Stinger is concerned.

Have they managed it?

Based on my experience at the wheel I would say yes.

Will people buy it?

Only time will tell.

Step inside the Stinger and you are greeted with a plush and welcoming environment.

It might not quite match the standards of Audi, BMW and Mercedes in terms of interior ergonomics but it really isn't very far off.

It's a bigger car than those German rivals it has in its sights and that is reflected in a cabin that is very open and roomy, with rear seat passengers particularly well catered for, both in terms of headroom and legroom.

Fit and finish are good and the instrumentation and switchgear are of sufficiently high quality.

Technology on this car included a 15-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system.

All models come generously equipped though and features include an eight-inch colour touchscreen, sat-nav, head-up display, dual-zone air conditioning, intelligent cruise control, Bluetooth, a wireless charger, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

GT S models are also linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom.

In some ways the Stinger is actually a league above those Germanic competitors. At the risk of over-egging it, it reminds me in many ways of a Porsche Panamera and given it's around half the price having the tag of a poor-man's Panamera might not be a bad one at all for it to aspire to.

There are three engine options as far as the Stinger is concerned - a 2.0-litre 244bhp T-GDi petrol version, a 2.2-litre 197bhp CRDi diesel or a 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turbo V6 T-GDi petrol unit.

This had the big 3.3-litre petrol unit and what a joy it proved.

It is a hugely potent unit that's a delight to drive and super smooth to boot.

Sure, it might not make much sense as an everyday car, but for sheer driving pleasure it really takes some beating.

Add into the mix the fact the Stinger is Kia's first rear-wheel drive vehicle and you start to get a sense of just how much time, energy and money the car maker has invested into it.

It means the Stinger handles sublimely and even though it is quite a long car it has a true GT feel and has been wonderfully engineered to deliver a driver's car of some note.

All Stingers have an eight-speed automatic gearbox and it is available in three trim levels - GT Line, GT Line S and GT S. Prices range from £31,995 to £40,495.

In the standard (Comfort) electronic driving mode this range-topping Stinger performed pretty well but the driving experience can be further sharpened by engaging either the Sport or Sport+ modes. There are also Smart and Eco modes.

The 3.3-litre engine delivers blistering pace and always feels like it has a little but more power in reserve, should you need it.

All in all the Stinger is quite some car. It has style by the bucket-load, is splendidly engineered and also offers great value for money.

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 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 168mph

0-62mph: 4.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 28.5

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 225g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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