St­ing. Re­lief

Hello Kia Stinger £40,535 OTR/£41,180 as tested

Top Gear (UK) - - GARAGE - PAUL HORRELL

“Woah, that’s a great-look­ing car, mate…” and then he hits me with the (sorry) stinger: “For a Kia.” Ac­tu­ally, as a com­pli­ment, it wasn’t too back-handed. The guy re­ally did like the car. I was park­ing and he walk­ing in a Lon­don W1 street where Bent­leys, Porsches and Maser­atis are of­ten jammed bumper-to-bumper.

He’s not the only one. Peo­ple have twisted heads and grinned as it drove by, tapped on the win­dow as it waited at red lights. It’s had a load of “nice car” com­ments, mostly from peo­ple I’ve never met, and not just from my neigh­bours who al­ways say “nice car” if I’m in a nice car. If this thing had so­cial ac­counts, it’d be hum­ming with likes and up­votes. I hap­pen to think the BMW 4-Se­ries Gran Coupe, the di­rect op­po­si­tion to this Kia, is a great-look­ing car too. But no one com­ments on the look of a BMW (un­less an i8) to a BMW driver.

This might in part be be­cause peo­ple think the Stinger is even more strik­ing than the 4-Se­ries, and doubt­less too there’s an el­e­ment of dis­arm­ing sur­prise when they see the sock­ing great KIA let­ters in chrome on the nose. I al­ways have reser­va­tions about im­put­ing a state of mind, but I sus­pect an­other fac­tor is sim­ply that we Brits do love an un­der­dog. And don’t mind say­ing so.

So the first month of driv­ing has proved that in its pri­mary mis­sion the Stinger is ab­so­lutely smash­ing. It’s a su­perb halo car for Kia.

The V6 Stinger will sell in big­gish num­bers in the US, but over here it’ll shift only in the hand­fuls. Even BMW and Mercedes can’t sell six-cylin­der petrol cars here; they do their num­bers with four-cylin­der diesels. But the Stinger’s diesel ver­sion is also a small seller be­cause it’s lousily un­com­pet­i­tive on fuel and CO . Thus build­ing the 2 Stinger for Europe can’t be much of a money-maker di­rectly for Kia.

But oh what good it’s do­ing for the brand as a whole. If you were con­sid­er­ing, say, a Sportage or the new Pro­ceed, imag­ine how the Stinger’s ex­is­tence le­git­imises your choice. So­cial com­men­ta­tors will be­fore long call

Kia a badge worth wear­ing, and an un­der­dog no longer.

Paint is the only ex­tra, but stan­dard is AA van yel­low

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