WE’VE come to expect a lot from Kia.

For me, the highlights of its emergence from budget brand to mainstream all-rounder have been the metamorphosis of the Sportage into an excellent SUV, the arrival of the impish new Picanto (my pick of the current city cars) and the evolvement of the ceed into a top-notch hatchback.

And let’s not forget the introduction of the seven-year warranty, which caused a lot of eyebrow-raising in the automotive industry.

But we never expected this…

The Stinger is the first grand tourer from Kia and the first rear-wheel-drive model the company has introduced to Europe.

Lauded as a “Game Changer” at this year’s Autocar awards and voted Car Of The Year by the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, it is available in five variants topped by the 3.3 T-GDi engine.

Kia’s first gran turismo is without doubt the most adventurous model in the company’s history. It’s a rear-wheel driven eye-catcher that can compete alongside the very best, while at the same time altering perceptions of the brand.

So, put your preconceptions away and prepare to be transported into a whole new experience from Kia.

In range-topping twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 petrol guise it is the fastest-accelerating Kia ever, with a 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds. You can have a Stinger with a lesser powered diesel or petrol engine, but here we are looking at the one you should really aim to buy.

The GTS costs just over £40,000, which might seem a lot until you compare it with the likes of Audi’s S5.

What you get for your money is a cruiser that’s impeccably styled, armed with a a powerful but unobtrusive engine and packed to the gills with creature comforts.

It will glide on its adaptive dampers, yet grunt and growl when asked to perform.

Six year in the making, it features state-of-the-art electronic driver aids and connectivity systems and space for five people and their luggage.

The flanks are simple, whereas the bold rear diffuser with quad tailpipes on petrol models and twin tailpipes on the diesels give a statement of intent.

But don’t think of the Stinger as a first-past-the-post racer. It is much more than that.

There’s passion and beauty in both the luxurious cabin and in the aerodynamic bodywork. This is about the joy of motoring in a car that envelopes the driver and passengers in cocooned intimacy.

Every model gets dual automatic air conditioning and a seven-inch touch screen with head-up display. Audio is fed through 15 speakers in the GT-Line S and GTS versions, while the lower spec GT version gets nine speakers.

All versions drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and up to five different shift and throttle programmes van by accessed through a drive selector or wheel-mounted paddles.

The element of fun driving is compounded by an active sound system that relays the engine note to the cabin through the audio system.

With a stack of driving aids such as high beam assist and autonomous emergency braking to call upon, the Stinger is very much a modern rather than retro car.

But what it does do so emphatically is capture the style and character of cars from the golden age of grand tourers.

This is a bold step for Kia and points to a bold and exciting future. For now, this is a remarkable statement of intent.


Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S

Price: £41,180 (range from £32,025)

Engine: Six-cylinder 3.3-litre V6 petrol, producing 365bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 4.7 seconds; top speed 168mph

Economy: 28.5mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 225g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: *****

OVERALL: *****