BMW M3 v Kia Stinger, kind of
Well, it turns out I was wrong. When we shot our Kia Stinger 330Si v Holden Commodore SS-V Redline comparison at the end of last year, I claimed that stability control can't be switched off completely in the Kia Stinger.
These comments made it all the way to Albert Biermann's office. He's the bloke that was poached by Kia to head the Hyundai/Kia performance division. His previous role had him in charge of BMW's M division, so he knows a thing or two about performance cars.
His office got in touch with Kia's Australian division and asked them to investigate. Kia went back to the Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) where we did our initial testing. They took the exact car we had and fitted a brand-new set of tyres (we destroyed the last set) and a stack of computer equipment.
They hooked up diagnostic equipment to the vehicle's computers and started doing skids – lots of them. Regardless of the angle or the type of slides they were doing, stability control didn't intervene at all.
So, we thought we'd verify those claims with our own Kia Stinger. But, we wanted to take it one step further. We wanted to use a car that Mr Biermann himself had worked on as a benchmark for what the Stinger should be able to do with stability control switched off.
We chose the BMW M3 Pure as our benchmark car, loaded up our equipment and ventured down to the AARC.
To preserve tyres, we wet down the track and set up three tests that were designed to prove definitively whether stability control kicks in at any point with the Stinger.
- Test 1 is a doughnut around a set of cones. Pretty straightforward – stability control off, kick the throttle and go around the cones a few times.
- Test 2 is a first-gear slide around the cones. Again, stability control off, enter the turn in first gear and kick the throttle.
- Test 3 is a faster second-gear slide around the cones. Same story, stability control off, enter the turn in second gear, nail the throttle and see what happens.
The first set of tests in the M3 Pure proved that, yes, everything is well and truly off with the BMW as we expected. It's also very easy to drive on the limit with progressive power delivery and precise throttle sensitivity – plus it sounds awesome.
Next up, we lined up the Stinger for the same tests. It passed the doughnut test with flying colours. The length of the car led it to whip around pretty quickly, but if you catch it quick enough it can be held for a doughnut pretty easily. So it passed test one without any problems.
Test two was a different story. This is the same test that we did with the Commodore comparison, and while stability control didn't kick in, something definitely happened.
When we analysed it a bit closer, it was actually the gearbox that was giving us grief. Kia's gearbox calibration forces it to shift up a gear automatically when it reaches the limiter.
But, when doing this kind of driving, the gearbox doesn't recognise the rush to its limiter quick enough. The end result is that it hits the limiter, cuts torque, goes for the limiter again and shifts up to second gear. The result of this is a feeling of interruption with torque delivery and what I thought to be stability control intervening.
Finally, test two proved that if you have enough bandwidth within the gear, it can confidently hold a slide if you keep the throttle buried. When you enter in second, hit the throttle, allow the rear to come around and keep feeding in throttle, it delivers some pretty impressive results and won't rush to the limiter like it does in first gear.
So, what did we discover? Well, we discovered that I was wrong, but we also discovered that we really want the Stinger to just not shift up on its own. It would help in so many scenarios where you just want to hold a gear without a self-shift to a higher gear.
It also proved that the BMW M3 Pure is just a sensationally fun car to drive.
If you've spotted anything else in our other videos that you think could be incorrect or not quite right, shoot us a note so that we can investigate.
CARS WE OWN: 2017 Kia Stinger 330Si diary