TOUR IN GRAND STYLE

The en­try-level Stinger has pres­ence and po­ten­tial

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - ONE CAR — TWO CRITICS - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

T he Kia Stinger was Aus­tralia’s most an­tic­i­pated new model last year, the rear-drive large grand tourer ar­riv­ing as Ford’s Fal­con and Holden’s home­made Com­modore ex­ited stage left. Bust­ing per­cep­tions of what a Kia could be, here was a lux­u­ri­ous, dy­namic and gor­geous fam­ily car that could house a twin-turbo V6 to launch it from rest to 100km/h in less than five sec­onds.

There’s an­other ver­sion that’s less than $50,000 drive-away. The en­try-level 200S with turbo four is a cheaper and more eco­nom­i­cal choice, still with rear-wheel drive and killer looks — but does it have the power to ex­cite?

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

IAIN: Grand tour­ers like the Stinger ram home how non­sen­si­cal our SUV ob­ses­sion is.

JULES: Why’s that? Loads of SUVs look great these days.

IAIN: None cost­ing $50,000 will turn heads like this. It’s a proper car so it will han­dle and steer bet­ter than an SUV. Plus you’d be proud to get into some­thing this gor­geous.

JULES: If it didn’t have a Kia badge on it I’d swear it was some­thing Ger­man cost­ing twice as much.

IAIN: That rear end’s a peach ... quad ex­haust pipes, lip spoiler, sleek roofline and those rear lights ex­tend­ing to the sides. Crack­ing de­sign.

JULES: I like the brake vents, bon­net vents and the way the chrome strip runs from the wind­screen pil­lar to the top of the boot lid.

IAIN: It’s a classy curvy de­sign. But the bon­net vents are fake.

JULES: It’s stun­ning, but the front end looks as if it has a mous­tache. What are the ri­vals for the Stinger?

IAIN: If we ig­nore SUVs, only the Holden Com­modore and Skoda Su­perb. Both fine cars but the Stinger trumps them for vis­ual flair.

THE LIV­ING SPACE

JULES: For en­try-level, this doesn’t feel low-rent.

IAIN: It’s fake leather where other Stingers get proper an­i­mal hide. Even so, seats are deep, wide and very comfy.

JULES: Lovely padded head­rests too. Why don’t more cars have these rather than the nor­mal solid bricks? IAIN: Fair point. Full elec­tric driver’s seat means I score a good seat­ing po­si­tion. JULES: No power for the pas­sen­ger seat. That’s stingy.

IAIN: The seven-inch screen’s a bit small but well po­si­tioned and the sil­ver but­tons and heater con­trols below have a soft touch. There’s a qual­ity feel here.

JULES: The cir­cu­lar air vents look as if they’re straight out of a Mer­cedes or Audi.

IAIN: “In­spired by” Mer­cedes, you may say. The gear lever feels class­ily Ger­man too.

JULES: I like how sim­ple the auto gear shift is. Park is op­er­ated on a sep­a­rate but­ton, so it’s sim­ple to flick into re­verse, neu­tral or drive. Makes for fast ma­noeu­vring.

IAIN: The cen­tre con­sole is wide enough for two mo­bile phones, cups and other stor­age. It feels well thought out.

THE COM­MUTE

JULES: The Stinger’s a proper large car and you sit low. I feel like an ex­ec­u­tive in here. IAIN: Kia’s Aus­tralian team has given the car a lo­cal sus­pen­sion tune and they’ve man­aged a de­cent blend of ride com­fort and han­dling. JULES: It cruises well, ab­sorbs the bumps and it’s quiet at speed. This Stinger’s a good thing, isn’t it? IAIN: It’s hard to fault. Radar cruise con­trol made the com­mute a breeze, while the au­dio qual­ity and Ap­ple CarPlay cov­ered the in­fo­tain­ment. It is a tad thirsty by mod­ern stan­dards though — we av­er­aged 9.6L/100km.

THE SHOP­PING

JULES: You get no­ticed in a Stinger. More so than in an ev­ery­day Benz or Audi. It’s not a car for the shy. IAIN: Peo­ple just don’t know what it is. It’s got se­ri­ous pres­ence so it’s all eyes on you. JULES: I’m not a big fan of these types of boots un­der a lift­back. They look as if they should hold more than they ac­tu­ally do and the rear win­dow is so huge it heats ev­ery­thing up, in­clud­ing the gro­ceries.

IAIN: A wagon is more prac­ti­cal. The Skoda Su­perb five-door would suit those with more to lug around.

SUN­DAY RUN

JULES: It’s a big car, it feels heavy so if it’s only a four-cylin­der it’s im­pres­sively fast.

IAIN: The fig­ures are strong — 182kW and 353Nm and 0-100kmh in six sec­onds — but I’d feel I owned the pussy­cat Stinger. For just $3000 more you get the same car with 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6.

JULES: But do you re­ally need it? IAIN: No, but need and want are dif­fer­ent things. Hav­ing 272kW and 510Nm and a 0100kmh time of 4.9 sec­onds jus­ti­fies the $3K ex­tra. But then Kia gives you Brembo brakes and a lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial for that money too. No brainer.

JULES: You’ll use a lot more fuel and rear tyres.

IAIN: Guilty. Any­way, the four-cylin­der’s a charm­ing unit with am­ple shove. For a big car the Stinger grips well, feels planted and safe but could use a dash more steer­ing feel and a louder ex­haust note.

JULES: The Kia logo on the steer­ing wheel feels wrong too. Sorry, but a Stinger needs a bet­ter badge than a Pi­canto or Rio.

IAIN: Spot on. As Ford does with the Mus­tang, put the model badge on the wheel. A Stinger script would look more spe­cial.

THE FAM­ILY

JULES: Plenty of room for our two kids’ seats in the back but no room for an ex­tra adult be­tween them.

IAIN: For an adult, toe and legroom are fine but head­room is tight due to the slop­ing roof. The cen­tre seat is rub­bish for adults as you sit way too high.

JULES: There’s plenty of ac­tive safety kit, fives­tar safety rat­ing and the seven-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty is amaz­ing.

THE VER­DICT

IAIN: In iso­la­tion the Stinger 200S is a fam­ily car bar­gain flush with style and class. For $3000 more you get the bal­lis­tic V6 though. Stuff econ­omy, that’s my pick.

JULES: It’d be a tough choice be­tween this and the Skoda wagon but the Stinger smashes it for style. De­tails win me over. The Stinger’s leather key, all er­gonomic like a cool cig­a­rette lighter, is the best I’ve held. Well done, Kia.

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