Saturday 21 July 2018

KIA's new Grand Tourer, the car with a Stinger in the tail - and here's how our First Drive went

First drive  in Mallorca: KIA Stinger

'Impressive credentials': Kia Stinger
'Impressive credentials': Kia Stinger
Equipment levels are comprehensive, including heated and ventilated leather seats
Kia Stinger

John Galvin

KIA'S new Stinger is a radical departure for the Korean firm.

This latest car has impressive credentials, with the range headed up by a 3.3-litre twin turbo V6 pushing out 370bhp.

This is the first version that we'll see in Ireland by the year's end, with a price tag of €66,495.

That is certainly rarefied territory, and it puts the Stinger up against some hefty competition.

Equipment levels are comprehensive, including heated and ventilated leather seats
Equipment levels are comprehensive, including heated and ventilated leather seats

Kia are at pains to point out they are not a premium brand and neither is the Stinger a premium saloon, but it's inevitable comparisons will be made.

Only a handful of V6 models will be imported and they won't be cheap to run, just making it into Band F for an annual road tax of €1,200.

We got our first drive of the new car in Mallorca and appropriately started at a racing circuit, twisty enough to provide a real test of the chassis.

We started with the V6, which in Europe comes with four-wheel drive.

The conversion to right-hand drive means that we will only get rear-wheel drive versions.

Even with the extra traction, it was ridiculously easy to hang the tail out in Sport+ mode, which deactivates the traction control.

It's a forgiving car, though, and it wasn't hard to get it back into line.

The Stinger has a capable chassis, which isn't surprising given that Kia now employ Albert Biermann, whose last job was heading up BMW's M division.

Most of the chassis development work was carried out at the famous Nurburgring.

Of course, even the fastest road cars can be found wanting on track, but the Stinger impressed, although you can feel that it's not a lightweight car.

Kia call it a full five-seater and, although it's quite a long vehicle, the back seat is a bit cramped for three, particularly with the transmission tunnel.

We also had the chance to try the 2-litre turbo petrol with rear-wheel drive and, even though it wasn't as powerful, it gave a good account of itself.

I actually preferred its handling as it felt much nimbler around the circuit.

Out on the road later in the V6, we encountered damp and greasy roads and found the chassis was still inclined to be a bit lively in Sport mode.

Enthusiastic cornering resulted in a little blip from the rear of the car. Not enough to require a correction, but I'd imagine for an inexperienced driver it would be a bit disconcerting.

The car itself is comfortable over long distances and Kia describe it as more a GT than a sports car.

It certainly has plenty of performance and an ability to easily get by slower traffic. The only thing missing is an engine note of real quality.

Most of what you hear is artificially generated and doesn't fully convince.

By contrast, the interior is nicely laid out around a large touch screen and everything seems to be well built.

The cabin is not quite at the level of the best in the class, but it's not far off either. You sit low down in comfortable bucket seats and the whole ambience is sporty.

Equipment levels are comprehensive, including heated and ventilated leather seats.

GT models also get 19in wheels, LED headlamps, dual twin exhausts and Brembo disc brakes with red calipers.

I got a chance to briefly drive the 2.2-litre diesel that will arrive in March 2018 in GT Line trim. With 200bhp, it doesn't quite have the pace of the V6, but against the competition it stacks up well.

It's expected to sell for around €53,000 with the 8spd automatic, which is fitted as standard to every Stinger.

This new sports saloon is the ultimate halo car.

Even Kia don't expect it to sell in huge numbers, but it's certainly a brave statement of intent.

Indo Motoring

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