BEHIND THE WHEEL
ALLOWING A SELECT GROUP OF JOURNALISTS TO DRIVE such an important new car before it’s even been revealed to the wider automotive press and the public is a bold move, but it also speaks of a certain confidence. That said, we each have less time behind the wheel than it would take to boil a small egg, but in those three minutes there is a thing or two to be learned.
The cabin feels spacious, with a good, low-slung driving position and plenty of room in the rear even for taller adults, while the high transmission tunnel helps to set a more sporting tone than in existing Kias. The dashboard layout is quite attractive, but the quality of the materials in this development car isn’t yet up to German standards.
The first driving impression I scrawl in my notebook is that it’s an easy car to drift – a long wheelbase, lots of power and a mechanical LSD will have that effect. Even in the firmer damper mode there is a fair amount of body roll, albeit a well-controlled sort of roll rather than the sloppy, wayward kind. That’s a clear indication that this is a GT car rather than a true high-performance car.
The steering is crisp and direct, though, and what it lacks in absolute feel it makes up for in rate of response, which is very well matched to cornering grip and that pronounced body roll. Basically, it’s easier to place the car into a corner than its size and weight might suggest.
There’s decent grip with gentle understeer at the limit and good braking performance. The engine feels impressively strong and responsive, but it’s done its best work by 6000rpm. The soundtrack is a bit flat for now and although the gearbox works well enough, I wouldn’t endorse Biermann’s claim about it being quicker shifting than the ZF unit just yet.
The very briefest of test drives, then, but all rather encouraging nonetheless. Should the Germans be worried? We’ll find out for certain when we drive the production Stinger GT later in the year. ⌧
IT’S EASIER TO PLACE THE CAR INTO A CORNER THAN ITS SIZE MIGHT SUGGEST