That was when this company, best known for cheap and cheerful models, suddenly decided to take on the executive brands. Enter, the Stinger.
The car was actually called the GT Concept, which pointed the way the brand was going. It eventually became Stinger, launched in 2017, and which I’ve just tested on the roads around Skipton.
It was Kia’s annual trek North for a driving day for the regional press and tested here is the 2021 version, which I must say is much improved. Better equipped, more grown-up and with quality you can appreciate from the moment you set eyes on it.
Stinger was from the word go a car worthy of consideration from anyone looking at an executive express, the sort of quick and stylish motor which BMW, Audi and co have dominated in recent years.
First Stinger reminded me a little of Ford Mustang, but it has now matured into a smarter, less boy racer-style car. It is still quick (60mph in 4.7 seconds) and rides and handles brilliantly but it will double up as an everyday family car quite easily.
This is a flagship model so at £42,000 it is expensive for a Kia but still many thousands less than a similarly equipped rival.
It has 19in alloy wheels, lashings of chrome inside and out, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors which automatically fold away and fabulous leather upholstery. In fact, the seats are among the highlights of this car. They are heated and have four-way power, lumbar support and air ventilation.
It has a powered tailgate, heated steering wheel, electronic parking brake and a start-stop engine button.
Important data is flashed on a head-up display and it comes with DAB radio with MP3 compatability, USB and AUX ports, music streaming systems, wireless phone charger and 360 degree camera monitor.
The sound system is a 15-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound system and it comes with a sophisticated set of safety devices including blind spot monitoring, parking sensors and systems to detect and avoid pedestrians and cyclists.
Sophisticated, both in terms of ride and handling and equipment levels.
The upgraded Stinger boasts a re-profiled exterior and has been enhanced to improve cabin appearance and quality. The upgraded cabin, in particular, reaffirms the Stinger’s credentials as the consummate grand tourer and the flagship of Kia’s European line-up.
Every car of quality these days has a “light signature”, which enthusiasts can use to differentiate between models at night. It’s not worth much but it creates an identity, which is important when cars can tend to look similar.
This signature is a new rear combination lamp spanning the width of the car and which mimics the shape of the subtle spoiler integrated into the boot lid.
New rear indicators, each comprising of 10 individual LED units, are arranged in a grid pattern – a motorsport-inspired design – which reflects the appearance of a chequered flag.
The overall shape of the cabin remains the same, but subtle visual, material, and textural enhancements create a more luxurious feel. New additions include a metallic finish to sections of the flat-bottomed steering wheel and a chrome bezel around the instrument cluster. The rear-view mirror is now frameless, creating a classy, modern look and also has the benefit of improving rearward visibility.
It is fitted as standard with Kia’s 10.25in touchscreen display. The infotainment system also allows Bluetooth smartphone pairing for two phones concurrently, enabling separate phones to be used for phone calls and music, for instance. Its advanced split-screen display lets users control or monitor different vehicle features at the same time.
One of the most impressive safety features is a new Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM) that acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers by eliminating a driver’s left- and right-side blind spots. It displays a video feed within the instrument cluster’s digital display if the driver indicates to change lane with another vehicle in their blind spot. The video feed comes from discreet wide-angle lenses hidden beneath the door mirrors, giving drivers a wider viewing angle of their blind spots.
Lane Following Assist (LFA) helps the vehicle stay in the centre of its lane, while Highway Driving Assist (HDA) maintains a set distance from the vehicle in front on a motorway or A-road, and also keeps the car in the centre of its lane, even on a curved road.
It’s a high-spec car, and while Kia may still be a developing brand, the Stinger shows it is well worth considering. Stinger sells on its merits.
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S
Engine: A 3.3 litre six cylinder petrol engine
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with sequential option
Performance: Top speed 167mph and 0 to 60mph in 4.7 seconds
Costs: 28mpg combined
Warranty: Seven years, 100,000 miles