Kia sets sights on com­peti­tors with a Stinger mis­sile

Solihull News - - MOTORING NEWS - ENDA MULLEN enda. mullen@ reach­plc. com

‘ PEO­PLE keep stop­ping to look at your car’ – my friends re­marked, as we sat watch­ing an im­por­tant foot­ball match that we in­creas­ingly lost in­ter­est in as it pro­gressed when it wasn’t go­ing our way.

The Kia Stinger proved a suit­able dis­trac­tion, not just for us but also the pedes­tri­ans pass­ing my drive­way at the time.

There’s no doubt­ing the Stinger is a strik­ing look­ing ve­hi­cle and it rep­re­sents a pretty ma­jor de­par­ture for the Korean car maker from its tra­di­tional line- up.

When I first started driv­ing Kia cars around 15 years ago they were cheap and cheer­ful al­ter­na­tives to Eu­ro­pean and Ja­panese main­stream of­fer- ings. Es­sen­tially they were bar­gain buys aimed at peo­ple who weren’t too both­ered about badges and just wanted to get around on four wheels as cheaply as pos­si­ble.

They got pro­gres­sively bet­ter though and oc­ca­sion­ally Kia would make big leaps in terms of qual­ity and style, par­tic­u­larly with SUVs like the Sorento and Sportage.

In ad­di­tion Kia reached the point where the cars be­ing pro­duced were pretty much on a par with those ri­vals they once sought to ape but un­der­cut.

The Stinger also rep­re­sents a big leap in that Kia is hop­ing to be a chal­lenger to es­tab­lished pre­mium Ger­man mar­ques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Kia hope it will steal sales from the likes of the BMW 4 Se­ries Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sport­back.

As far as looks go it ticks plenty of boxes and is sleek, el­e­gant and stylish.

It has hints of the Op­tima but to my mind also looks like the kind of car Saab might be mak­ing now if it hadn’t gone to the wall. While it might not be quirky as such, it’s cer­tainly dif­fer­ent and def­i­nitely ap­peal­ing.

Kia made a shrewd move ap­point­ing for­mer Audi de­sign supremo Peter Schreyer some time back and the Stinger rep­re­sents the pin­na­cle of his achieve­ments thus far.

For the Stinger, Kia also de­cided to buy in some se­ri­ous en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­tise with the hire of Al­bert Bier­mann, who pre­vi­ously worked for BMW’s M di­vi­sion.

So, one can con­clude that Kia re­ally mean busi­ness as far as the Stinger is con­cerned,

Have they man­aged it? Based on my ex­pe­ri­ence at the wheel I would say yes.

Will peo­ple buy it? Only time will tell. Step in­side the Stinger and you are greeted with a plush and wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

It might not quite match the stan­dards of Audi, BMW and Mercedes in terms of in­te­rior er­gonomics but it re­ally isn’t far off. It’s a big­ger car than those Ger­man ri­vals it has in its sights and that is re­flected in a cabin that is open and roomy, with rear- seat pas­sen­gers par­tic­u­larly well catered for, both in terms of head and legroom.

Fit and fin­ish are good and the in­stru­men­ta­tion and switchgear are of high qual­ity.

All mod­els come gen­er­ously equipped with fea­tures in­clud­ing an eight- inch colour touch­screen, sat- nav, head- up dis­play, dual- zone air con­di­tion- ing, in­tel­li­gent cruise con­trol, Bluetooth, a wire­less charger, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto. GT S mod­els are also linked to Kia Con­nected Ser­vices with TomTom.

There are three en­gine op­tions as far as the Stinger is con­cerned – a 2.0- litre, 244bhp T- GDi petrol ver­sion, a 2.2- litre 197bhp CRDi diesel or a 3.3litre 365bhp twin- turbo V6 T- GDi petrol unit.

This had the big 3.3- litre petrol unit and what a joy it proved de­liv­er­ing blis­ter­ing pace.

All in all the Stinger is quite some car. It has style by the bucket- load and of­fers great value for money. You also get an­other great Kia bonus in the shape of a seven- year war­ranty.

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