The Stinger finds it­self in the right place at the wrong time

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST DRIVE -

WE NEEDED this. With­out a Holden Com­modore or Ford Fal­con at Bang For Your Bucks we have wel­comed the Kia Stinger with open arms. Mainly be­cause a cud­dle with a four door, long wheel­base, and brawny rear-drive sedan would help ease the ab­sence of Aussie-made fast cars. Oh, and it’ll give the pho­tog­ra­phers an easy drift shot or two.

But we haven’t lobbed it into this bat­tle for en­tirely self­ish rea­sons. Kia has been keen to sink the Stinger’s teeth into our for­mula af­ter a hid­ing at Per­for­mance Car of the Year (against ex­otic com­pe­ti­tion), espe­cially since big cars have reaped solid re­sults at this BFYB event be­fore.

The Aussie Holden Com­modore SS Ute bowed out last year with a cat­e­gory win and out­right fourth place be­hind the SS Red­line. Mean­while, the Kia has proven its 3.3-litre twin­turbo V6 packs just as much punch as our old V8 lar­rikins.

Its 5.07sec stand­ing sprint to 100km/h here would have split the old LS3-pow­ered pair’s 5.01 and 5.13sec ac­cel­er­a­tion fig­ures in 2017, along with their 400m times. Ad­di­tion­ally, its lap time, brak­ing and han­dling data would have breathed down the SS Ute’s neck. So how’d our Stinger fin­ish to­wards the back end of 2018’s or­der?

You could cast sus­pi­cions on our choice for the bar­gain­based 330S. We’ve seen the Stinger go faster with wider rear rub­ber; the Si and GT vari­ants get 255mm-wide rear Con­ti­nen­tals on wider rear rims, ver­sus the 225mm you’ll find on the back of the S. But the Si’s 4.89sec/13.01sec ac­cel­er­a­tion fig­ures, as seen at PCOTY, would only move it up one place at BFYB this year. The GT’s adap­tive dampers aren’t a so­lu­tion ei­ther. They would have to re­duce its lap time by a sec­ond to over­come that vari­ant’s $11K price hike just to main­tain ninth at BFYB.

Nope, the Kia’s less-than-amaz­ing re­sult has been de­cided by much tougher com­pe­ti­tion. The hot-hatch breed­ing sea­son over the past 12 months has moved the goal posts on cor­ner­ing speeds, lap times, price, and straight-line fig­ures so far for­ward the Stinger has had no chance to re­ally siz­zle.

The judge’s score­card has re­flected that much. We rue that it has auto pad­dles, but no true man­ual mode and the fact sta­bil­ity con­trol can’t truly be killed. But in con­trast to the In­finiti, the Kia Stinger throws to­gether a de­cent pack­age for much less. It points true, with a nicely weighted tiller that’s geared well, and even though there’s a fair bit of roll, it han­dles like a Com­modore SS, rather than an un­like­able oaf.

Maybe if Kia slashed the 330S’s price and made wider tyres and adap­tive dampers an af­ford­able op­tion it’d make real waves here. But for now it’s ninth place. –


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