South Korean zinger packs a sporty sting

The Herald (South Africa) - - World Of Wheels -

Un­til now South Korean car mak­ers have qui­etly gone about their busi­ness pro­duc­ing prac­ti­cal and sen­si­ble cars.

Ex­cept for the oc­ca­sional stab at ex­cite­ment with cars such as the quirky (but not ter­ri­bly fast) Hyundai Veloster, there’s been noth­ing to quicken the pulse of per­for­mance en­thu­si­asts.

But now Kia has ar­rived on the heart­beat-rais­ing scene with the new Stinger GT sports sedan, all 272kW and R859,995 of it.

The four-door gran tur­ismo (GT), the first high-per­for­mance car from the Korean sta­ble, com­petes in power and price against Ger­man big guns such as the 260kW Audi S5 qu­at­tro, which sells for R936,000, and BMW’s 440i gran coupe, which musters 240kW and costs R898,801.

The Stinger is ush­ered along by a 3.3l twin-tur­bocharged V6 petrol en­gine with 510Nm of torque, mak­ing it the most pow­er­ful Kia yet – and by some mar­gin, with power fired to the rear wheels via an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion hard­ens and soft­ens to match driv­ing con­di­tions, and there are five drive modes: Per­sonal, Eco, Sport, Com­fort and Smart, which ad­just the sus­pen­sion and the steer­ing feed­back.

Kia SA of­fers the Stinger GT in a sin­gle, fully-loaded model packed with tech­nol­ogy and com­forts to go with the price tag (in­clud­ing an un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre/five-year war­ranty).

These in­clude a head-up dis­play, a re­vers­ing cam­era, wire­less smart­phone charg­ing pad, elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats, heated front and rear seats and blind-spot de­tec­tion.

High-end in­fo­tain­ment is sup­plied by a 20cm touch­screen and a 15-speaker, 720W Har­man/Kar­don au­dio sys­tem with sub­woofers.

Kia has made a de­cent ef­fort with the in­te­rior am­bi­ence. Though it’s not quite in the pre­mium Ger­man league, the soft Nappa leather seats and soft-touch dash­board cre­ate a pleas­antly up­mar­ket vibe.

Due to the lim­ited num­ber of Stingers avail­able to the SA mar­ket in 2018, the ve­hi­cle isn’t avail­able through the Kia dealer net­work. In­stead, it will be sold di­rectly through the web­site www.ki­astinger.co.za

Kia’s first sports sedan is more of a gen­tle­man’s grand tourer than a full-blown sports car. The ride, even in the sporti­est sus­pen­sion mode, isn’t par­tic­u­larly firm, and is yield­ing enough to make the Stinger com­fort­able as a daily com­muter and long-dis­tance tourer.

The Stinger GT is on the heavy side at 1.8 tonnes (about 100kg heav­ier than a BMW 440i), but while it’s not ex­actly kart-like, the mass doesn’t limit its cor­ner­ing prow­ess too much.

Kia has done its home­work in chas­sis and driv­e­train devel­op­ment, and the fact that the car was honed at the Nur­bur­gring Nord­schleife shows in its pinned-down and sure-footed han­dling.

A lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial en­hances grip, par­tic­u­larly when pow­er­ing out of tight cor­ners.

With the sta­bil­ity con­trol en­gaged, road­hold­ing is fool­proof, but trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol can be sep­a­rately turned off to turn this Kia into a play­ful thing with a loose tail.

Rear-wheel drive fans with a han­dle on counter-steer­ing tech­nique will find much to amuse them­selves.

The steer­ing, not tra­di­tion­ally a Kia strength in terms of feel, is also well sorted. It’s not too light and de­liv­ers de­cent feed­back.

‘The Stinger gath­ers pace with ap­peal­ing gusto when you floor the throt­tle’

The great chas­sis is rounded off by solid tor­sional rigid­ity, giv­ing the Korean car the grav­i­tas to com­pete against its more es­tab­lished ri­vals from Europe.

The Brembo brakes worked fine in an emer­gency stop, but started fad­ing ear­lier than ex­pected around the han­dling track. The eight-speed trans­mis­sion is a slick-shift­ing af­fair, but the pad­dles on the steer­ing don’t al­low the driver to take full con­trol; the trans­mis­sion still shifts up and down when it wants to.

Kia’s quoted per­for­mance fig­ures for the Stinger GT are a 270km/h top speed and 0100km/h in 4.9 sec­onds.

We achieved a some­what slower 0-100 time of 5.4 sec­onds when we per­formed our own Gaut­eng-alti­tude test at Gerotek with a Vbox.

That’s still pretty fast, and the Stinger gath­ers pace with ap­peal­ing gusto when you floor the throt­tle. The same goes for its gutsy over­tak­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion, al­low­ing it to whip past long trucks hastily.

While we didn’t test the claimed top speed the Kia dis­played con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing di­rec­tional sta­bil­ity at higher ve­loc­i­ties, with­out any hint of twitch­i­ness. It’s in keep­ing with the Stinger GT’s gen­er­ally pol­ished, un­flus­tered na­ture.

It is un­der­lined by the sub­tly sporty growl from the six­cylin­der en­gine but noth­ing that re­ally rocks your socks, and this sum­marises the car in gen­eral.

It’s a re­fined GT with a sporty streak, but with­out be­ing out­ra­geously charis­matic. –

Pic­ture: MOTORPRESS

WELL ROUNDED: A Kia as you’ve never known it: a sports sedan pack­ing 272kW of power

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