SHARP THINK­ING

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - Driveway - Craig Duff

KIA isn’t a car com­pany that con­jures up images of de­sir­able and fast cars. Un­til now.

The Stinger is a gen­uinely quick ve­hi­cle, as at­tested by a 4.9-se­cond of­fi­cial time to 100km/h from the twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6, eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and rear­wheel drive.

In the top-spec GT tested here, drive-away prices climb to about $65,000 and in­clude adap­tive dampers, Brembo brakes, a sun­roof, classy headup dis­play and a de­cent set of speak­ers. Start­ing to see the ap­peal? As an ex­pres­sion of what Kia can do as a top-end main­stream car maker, the Stinger shows the fu­ture is bright. The sheet metal is stylish from any an­gle and the car is of­ten mis­taken for a Euro­pean model.

The in­te­rior is al­most as good and a huge step up from any Kia that has come be­fore. The leather stitch­ing is tight and pre­cise, the in­stru­ments are easy to read and come with a mul­ti­tude of set­tings. The con­nec­tiv­ity lev­els ex­tend to An­droid and Ap­ple phone mir­ror­ing and the in-built in­fo­tain­ment is easy to drive.

The big­gest crit­i­cism of the Kia Stinger is that the per­for­mance el­e­ment is acous­ti­cally muted in stan­dard trim.

Put bluntly, a Stinger has all the res­o­nance of a dieselpow­ered bus un­til you part with $2700 for the op­tional and lo­cally de­vel­oped bi-model ex­haust. Even then the en­gine lacks the sonic bite of a de­cent Euro­pean turbo, although the speedo in­di­cates it isn’t lack­ing in get-go.

Not hav­ing a sound to match the looks is a glar­ing over­sight in a car pitched at tra­di­tional per­for­mance sedan fans, most of whom would have owned lo­cal V8s. Both Holden and Ford could crank out a de­cent tailpipe note.

The GT tested here earned a five-star rat­ing from af­ter be­ing tested in Europe, a lo­ca­tion where all Stinger ver­sions are sold with au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing.

Kia Aus­tralia opted not to fit AEB on its base models – a sit­u­a­tion it is now fix­ing – so the score for those vari­ants dropped to three stars.

Stan­dard kit on the GT is im­pres­sive and in­cludes blindspot alert, ac­tive lane-de­par­ture in­ter­ven­tion, adap­tive cruise con­trol and rear crosstraf­fic alert.

Kia has kit­ted the Stinger GT with its lat­est and great­est toys and it shows.

The seven-inch TFT driver’s dis­play is clear and log­i­cal, there’s Qi-com­pat­i­ble wire­less phone charg­ing, 15speaker au­dio, lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial and a head-up dis­play that fea­tures icons on ei­ther side of the screen to show on which side the blindspot alert is work­ing.

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