:9 Jethro Bov­ing­don: Host, Ig­ni­tion and Head 2 Head It felt like the ul­ti­mate rental car— tires howl­ing and de­mand­ing to be driven at max­i­mum at­tack just for the fun of it.”

Motor Trend (USA) - - 2018 Best Driver’s Car - Words Frank Markus

If see­ing an RS, M, or ZR1 badge pre­sets high ex­pec­ta­tions for a car, the “Kia” badge has the op­po­site ef­fect. Sev­eral judges fret­ted that we’d in­vited a spork to a knife fight. Well, the Stinger started last, as the 12th car Randy Pobst lapped, but he in­stantly de­clared it “the big­gest sur­prise of the week, with bet­ter bal­ance than some of the big names that I’ve strug­gled with.”

Pobst re­cited the “B-word” (bal­ance) eight times in his post-ses­sion down­load. Yes, the car is softly sprung and damped rel­a­tive to this field, but it al­ways laid over and took a nice, pre­dictable set, carv­ing cor­ners with lit­tle need for steer­ing cor­rec­tion.

On the track, ju­di­cious use of the con­trols could eas­ily in­duce con­trol­lable drifts. “I love a car that I can im­pose my own style on,” Jethro Bov­ing­don said. “The Stinger was al­ways will­ing to adopt the cor­ner­ing at­ti­tude I wanted.” In­ter­est­ingly, it’s the only car in which Pobst’s fourth lap was his quick­est, in­di­cat­ing that the brakes and tires never tired of slow­ing or turn­ing the 3,906-pound sedan (third heav­i­est in the group). In case you’re won­der­ing, its 1:46.16 lap time ranks 96th of 119 BDC laps, ahead of Mit­subishi Evos, Subaru WRXS, and the like (see page 78 for the full list).

Driven hard on 198, overly soft springs meant hard cor­ner­ing over bumps prompted bump-stop vis­its that in­duced un­wanted slides. Adding more brakes meant we felt some di­ag­o­nal pitch­ing. “I want to stiffen the springs about 50 per­cent,” Scott Evans said. But he also noted that the lusty twin-turbo never threat­ened to over­whelm the chas­sis.

Most crit­i­cisms ap­ply to 10/10ths driv­ing, but “once you calm down, smooth out feet and hands, and get into a rhythm,” Ed Loh noted, “the Stinger’s com­mu­nica­tive steer­ing and planted ride bub­ble to the sur­face.” It earned its rank­ing by prov­ing more con­fi­dence in­spir­ing and/or fun to drive than those that trailed it.

FRIENDLY In this group, the re­laxed-fit seat, roomy pedal box, strong A/C, and user-friendly in­fo­tain­ment in­ter­face iden­tify the Stinger as an out­sider—but also a will­ing and con­fi­dent dance part­ner.

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