Kia sets sights on competitors with a Stinger missile
‘ 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.