A STING IN THE TALE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The Kia Stinger took the South Korean maker into premium brand executive territory for the very first time. Now, it's been updated. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 33
Yes, it's a Kia. Yes, you might want one. No, this 'Gran Turismo' model isn't merely a copy of something German. Welcome to the Kia Stinger, now usefully improved. The looks don't lie.
Backgroundword count: 124
Back in 2017, we were offered a very different kind of Kia. The Stinger was a five-door performance GT that took on the German premium brands in the luxury sports Gran Turismo market. Since then, it's worked well as a rare but desirable halo model for the Korean brand and a respectable 10,000 global units have been sold. Enough to justify a facelift in 2021, which brought us the car we look at here, a model with some useful updates. You get a slightly smarter look, a few minor handling tweaks, much improved media connectivity and a big safety upgrade. It'll be an even rarer sight though because the range is now centred only on this priciest, most powerful V6 petrol-engined GT S variant.
Driving Experienceword count: 447
With this revised Stinger model, the only variant still available is the GT S model we always most liked, fitted out with a growly potent twin-turbo 3.3-litre T-GDi petrol V6. Due to emissions updates, this unit's 361bhp output is a fraction less than before, but it still sounds great and the performance figures are little different, 62mph dispatched in just 4.7s on the way to 168mph if you're quick with the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission's steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters. As before, this powertrain offers a lusty 510Nm of torque, starts pulling from just 1,500 revs and really gets into its sweet spot between 3,000 and 4,000rpm, clearing its throat with the aid of a mildly contrived audio system soundtrack that broadcasts responses to your right foot if you switch into one of the sporty driving modes. As is usual with set-ups of this kind, there are two dynamic settings on offer, 'Sport' and 'Sport +', though to use the second of these, you'll need to be feeling a little brave. That's because 'Sport+' restricts stability control assistance, which means it's quite easy to get the rear end squirming playfully about with a quick deliberate jab on the throttle. That reminds you of the Stinger's proper old-school rear wheel-driven configuration. The original Stinger was the first Kia ever propelled from the back axle - well it was for the UK anyway. Left hand drive markets always had the Stinger GT S with all-wheel drive, a format that continues to be unavailable here for reasons that Kia vaguely explains away by citing 'differences in packaging'. We've always felt though, that drive from the rear rather suits this Stinger's old-school feel, originally developed by a team led by ex-BMW M car engineer Albert Biermann. Thankfully, not much has changed with that apart from a slight re-tuning of the adaptive dampers, a subtle revision to the surprisingly responsive power steering and a switch from Continental Sport Contact 5 tyres to Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. To compensate for the lack of AWD, the brand continues to standardise a limited slip differential across the range for our market and this, in concert with a torque vectoring system that lightly brakes the inside front wheel at speed through fast corners, means that the Stinger remains impressively adept at overcoming its rather portly 1.890kg body weight and hurling itself from bend to bend, should you be inclined to drive it in such a fashion. Ultimately, this is a GT rather than a super sports saloon - a poor man's BMW M5 if you like. The Stinger is that good: was - and still is. It's still almost everything you wouldn't expect a Kia to be.
To see the full road test text contact us on 0330 0020 227
Pictures (high res disabled)
Scoring (subset of scores)
Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates
|Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.|