Kia Stinger 3.3

T-GDi V6 GT S

Kia Stinger, 2021, nose
Kia Stinger, 2021, front
Kia Stinger, 2021, front
Kia Stinger, 2021, side
Kia Stinger, 2021, rear
Kia Stinger, 2021, tail
Kia Stinger, 2021, dashboard
Kia Stinger, 2021, rear seats
Kia Stinger, 2021, boot

THE Stinger is all about the journey, not just being the first to reach its destination.

That's the view of Gregory Guillaume, Kia's design chief for Europe, and a fascinating view at that because we're talking about the fastest accelerating Kia model of all time, capable of hitting 60mph from standstill in just 4.7 seconds.

More important to Guillaume though is that the Stinger is an elegant high performance grand tourer, one designed to cover great distances in comfort and style.

One of the most adventurous models in the Korean company's history, it is the brand's standard bearer in Europe and remains its most driver-focused car.

Not only is it the first classic ‘gran turismo' from Kia but it's also the first rear-wheel drive model to be introduced to the UK.

Now, with a refreshed design plus a range of technology and safety upgrades, the revised Stinger is available as a single halo model called the GT S.

Beneath the bonnet is a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine producing 361bhp, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and featuring electronic suspension damping and Brembo brakes.

The transmission has up to five different shift and throttle settings - Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport + and Smart - accessed via a Drive Mode Selector, and there are also steering wheel-mounted paddles and a limited slip differential.

But back to that bit about the journey rather than the time it takes to get there. The car was actually inspired by the elegant grand tourers Guillaume saw as a child growing up in 1970s France as they cruised their owners in luxury from Paris to the Riviera.

He loved the style - long bonnet, short front overhang, Coke bottle nip in the waist and cabin positioned towards the rear of the car - which became the vision for the 2011 GT Concept and, subsequently, Stinger.

And while the latest upgrades are subtle rather than dramatic, there are some touches that really make a difference.

For instance new turn signals, each comprising 10 LED units, are arranged in a motorsport-inspired grid pattern which reflects the appearance of a chequered flag.

There's also a fresh 19-inch aluminium alloy wheel design and a new mood lighting system allows drivers to select one of 64 colours to alter the cabin's character.

While we couldn't exactly re-enact the Stinger's development drive, covering the equivalent of 27 trips around the Equator, we did manage the best part of 300 miles of the UK's most challenging roads - from motorways and A roads to rural lanes and forest tracks.

Feeling smooth and nicely damped in Comfort mode, more edgy in Sport and a touch more economical in Eco, the ‘big red machine' was a treat to drive, even if it did struggle to return even 20 miles per gallon.

As for comfort and ambience, the Kia's cabin features a blend of intimacy and space courtesy of Nappa leather low-slung front seats with eight-way power adjustment, heated seats all round and suede-feel headlining.

You also get a 10.25-inch infotainment and navigation system, a customisable head-up display plus a 360-degree around-view monitor.

DAB radio with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth and music streaming is standard along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, all projected through a concert hall quality 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

It features 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.

FAST FACTS

Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S

Price:£43,380

Mechanical:361bhp, 3,342cc, V6, petrol engine driving rear wheels via eight-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed:167mph

0-62mph:4.7 seconds

Combined MPG:28.0

Insurance Group:42

C02 emissions:229g/km

Bik rating:37%

Warranty:7yrs/100,000 miles

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