Kia Stinger 2.0

T-GDI GT-Line S

Kia Stinger, front
Kia Stinger, front
Kia Stinger, front
Kia Stinger, side
Kia Stinger, interior
Kia Stinger, rear
Kia Stinger, rear
Kia Stinger, rear
Kia Stinger, interior

THERE aren't many mainstream cars that have an undisputed wow factor but the Kia Stinger is definitely one of them.

Its striking good looks are hard to ignore and when you spend some time at the wheel of one you really do notice the admiring glances you get on a regular basis.

In many ways the Stinger is a good summation of just how far the Korean car maker has come in the last 15 years.

It's almost as if Kia have created it as a way of saying ‘just look at what we can do now'.

Whereas the marque was once trying to catch-up with European mass market rivals the Stinger is a car that definitely has premium rivals in its sights.

It has been created to challenge established German marques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Might this four-door fastback, as Kia call it, persuade potential buyers of a BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe or Audi A5 Sportback to go a little off piste?

Badge snobbery still counts for a lot and while many might play safe the Stinger somewhat bizarrely has more of an element of exclusivity about it, as you don't see that many of them around.

Its inbuilt elegance and style certainly count for a lot and as someone who likes to be different I could certainly be persuaded to take the plunge.

While Kia design chief Peter Schreyer might be considered to be the architect behind this sublime creation, it is actually the work of French designer Gregory Guillaume, albeit under Schreyer's supervision.

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

On the inside the Stinger offers a plush and welcoming environment.

If I wanted to be picky I would say it doesn't quite match Audi, BMW and Mercedes levels of excellence but it isn't that far off.

It's a big car overall and that helps to create a cabin that is very open and roomy, with rear seat passengers particularly well catered for, both in terms of headroom and legroom. It also has a generously sized boot offering 406 litres of space.

The standard of fit and finish is good and the instrumentation and switchgear high quality generally.

My biggest criticism would be that the infotainment system felt a little bit less premium but equally it was not lacking in any way.

Equipment levels are generous on all models, another plus point for potential buyers, and standard 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.

There are three engine options - 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 car had the smaller petrol unit and although it doesn't offer the same thrills as the V6 it makes a lot more sense in terms of running costs and it does not feel underpowered in any way.

It is potent enough and smooth and refined too. Additionally it will set you back around £5,000 less than the V6.

The Stinger is Kia's first rear-wheel drive vehicle and its handling is enhanced as a result.

There is an element of it feeling like a big car but it takes corners at speed well enough and while it is not an out-and-out driver's car has the feel of a more leisurely low-slung GT.

I'd imagine I could quite happily sit behind the wheel for a long journey and get out at the other end feeling refreshed.

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 just over £32,000 to £40,535 and another big buying incentive is Kia's seven-year warranty.

FAST FACTS

Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDI GT-Line S

Price: £35,935

Mechanical: 244bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 5.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 33.6

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 191g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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