Evo India - - KIA STINGER GT -

THE HYUNDAI-KIA NAMYANG DE­SIGN CEN­TRE, 40KM south of Seoul, is a sprawl­ing R&D fa­cil­ity, part gritty and in­dus­trial, part ul­tra-chic. We drive past a huge car park stuffed full of com­peti­tor cars, and in among the sea of monochro­matic Pas­sats and Mon­deos I spot a BMW M4, a Lo­tus Evora and even a Porsche Cay­man R.

Another of Kia’s big-money trans­fers is Al­bert Bier­mann, the for­mer head of BMW’s M divi­sion. The af­fa­ble Ger­man has the air of a man who is happy in his work, one who feels at home. At 6ft 4in tall and al­ways dec­o­rated with a smile, he bounds around the pre­sen­ta­tion room at Namyang talk­ing frankly and en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about the Stinger GT.

‘The brief was to make a sporty car,’ says Bier­mann, ‘but it still needed to have good long-dis­tance com­fort. It could not be a harsh car. We make a big ef­fort on iso­la­tion on all our cars, but the GT fol­lows a dif­fer­ent phi­los­o­phy. It’s more about pre­ci­sion, re­sponse and feed­back, bet­ter wheel and chas­sis con­trol. It’s nicely bal­anced and pre­cise, but still the iso­la­tion lev­els are high. That is what makes it an ex­cel­lent car.’

The Stinger GT uses an adapted ver­sion of the Hyundai Ge­n­e­sis plat­form and the group’s ex­ist­ing 3.3-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, mod­i­fied ex­ten­sively for im­proved re­sponse and sharper de­liv­ery. It de­vel­ops 365bhp and 510Nm of torque. The only transmissi­on op­tion is an eight-speed au­to­matic, which Bier­mann claims of­fers bet­ter shift times than the ubiq­ui­tous ZF eight-speed ’box that the likes of BMW, Audi and Bent­ley fit through­out their ranges.

Kia quotes a 0-100kmph time of 5.1 sec­onds, which makes this the fastest ac­cel­er­at­ing Kia to date, but in an age of sub-five-sec­ond hot hatches it’s brisk rather than elec­tri­fy­ing. At more than 1900kg the GT is quite a lump, partly be­cause it’s big­ger in ev­ery dimension than its near­est ri­vals, BMW’s 4-se­ries Gran Coupe and Audi’s A5 Sport­back.

The MacPher­son front sus­pen­sion is all-new com­pared with the Ge­n­e­sis’s and the multi-link rear end has been re­worked, too, while ad­di­tional brac­ing im­proves the stiff­ness of the steel body by two per cent at the front and 14 per cent at the rear. In a first for Kia, the Stinger GT uses adap­tive dampers, while the Drive Mode Se­lect sys­tem en­ables the driver to choose be­tween five modes – Eco, Com­fort, Sport, Smart (which adapts to your driv­ing style) and In­di­vid­ual – that ad­just all the usual pa­ram­e­ters in­clud­ing steer­ing as­sis­tance, damp­ing, throt­tle re­sponse, gearshift strat­egy and ESC in­ter­ven­tion.

The steer­ing is an elec­tron­i­cally as­sisted rack-type sys­tem, which is said to give bet­ter pre­ci­sion and re­sponse than a col­umn-mounted setup, while brak­ing is by high-spec Brem­bos. The stan­dard-fit tyres are 19-inch Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4s. The Nür­bur­gring was used for both dura­bil­ity test­ing and chas­sis tun­ing, and Bier­mann says he and his team will soon travel to our shores for UK-spe­cific chas­sis tun­ing.

‘A lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial is stan­dard and, for those who like the drift sen­sa­tion, the ESC can be switched off fully,’ says Bier­mann. ‘So you can have some drift­ing fun in a Kia. It’s time you got used to this!’

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