: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.”
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.