KIA isn’t the first brand which comes to mind when discussing performance cars and that’s probably due to the fact that their most sporty offering up until mid-January was the Koup. It’s lovely, but you won’t be taking on any 440i’s or Golf GTI’s anytime soon – it’s just not that sort of car. Desirability, I feel is something that KIA’s of old lacked, but as I mentioned in my review of the new Sportage, KIA is on a roll at the moment and very soon, KIA’s will become poster cars. Mark my words.
So it came as no surprise to me, then, when KIA unveiled the Stinger – an all new model for them, set to take the fight straight to the BMW 4 Series GranCoupe, Audi A5 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz CLS at a stretch. It’s big, bigger than all of those. It’s even longer than a Lexus GS and that’s…long.
The design team have certainly done their bit here – the Stinger is swoopy and swishy in all the right places and has a rakish stance, much like I’d expect its target market to have. These young, wealthy petrolheads and stylish beings will be pleased with the interior, too, which looks a lot like a Mercedes-Benz CLA…but who cares really? The whole thing oozes desirability but the deal-breaker with any snazzy Coupe sedan is the way it performs. You can’t have a car that looks like Heidi Klum but runs like Oprah.
Albert Biermann, ex-Vice President of Engineering at BMW M, has settled in nicely with the Koreans and his work has apparently resulted in a car that is properly good to drive. MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension is designed to let the driver know what’s happening and for the first time in a KIA, ride-damping and vehicle handling can be changed by the driver thanks to an electronically adjustable suspension – Dynamic Stability Damping Control. It has 5 modes which are a lot of modes, but judging by the engine line-up, we suspect the best on will be the fast one.
Still, under development, the powertrains have to live up to the rest of the grand-tourer, too, so it comes as no surprise that they are both rather pokey. 190kW and 350Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo four and 272kW and 510Nm from KIA’s 3.3 Litre twin-turbo V6 Lambda II motor give you stonking performance – 5.1 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 270km/h. Vented Brembos are standard on the 3.3-litre model featuring 4-piston callipers up front and dual-pistons at the rear.
The gearbox is fancy too and is an 8-speeder which makes use of aviation technology in the form of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber which helps reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain. The Stinger can be had as either an AWD or rear-wheel drive, the rear-wheel drive model coming with a proper mechanical limited-slip differential.
A vast array of safety features are available too, as expected in this segment, and a heads-up display, wireless phone charger, adaptive cruise control and optional Harman/Kardon sound system will keep the tech-weirdos happy.
There’s no word yet on local availability but should there be enough interest, don’t expect to see it on our roads before 2018.