After owning a luxury European sports car for a brief period prior to purchasing my Stinger GT, I was left with a strong taste of dissatisfaction and disappointment with the brand. Problem after problem resulted in the dealership having my car for almost eight weeks in total of the four months of ownership.
My workplace is on its third batch of Rios, the car you think of when someone says the word Kia – the cheap and cheerful throwaway hatchback. However, after having three generations in a row, the progressive nature of the Kia brand is evident each time we upgrade to the latest model. Each with refined finishes and proving excellent value for money and reliability. This bulletproof mentality is what drew me to the Stinger.
Working in real estate, I live out of my car and it’s often the first thing people judge me on when I arrive at an appointment. No longer do I arrive with a three-pointed star on the bonnet, but the plain and simple Kia badge on the sleek and sexual lines of the GT. “Wow, what car is that?” “You’re a bit young to be driving a Maserati aren’t you? Oh wait, that’s a bloody Kia!” (Side note: true story! The first day I owned the car, a guy at my favourite lunch spot mistook the the sleek lines and long rear tail-lights for a Maserati!) It turns heads on every drive and is a sexy-looking machine!
When I told my mum I was going from a new Benz to a Kia, she was in disbelief and called me an idiot. Of course, she immediately pictured a Rio, but when I arrived in the GT she almost fell off her perch – it must have been brandy o’clock.
Doing so many kilometres each year (usually 30–40K p.a.), I lusted something sexy, powerful, comfortable, and most importantly something reliable after my last vehicle purchase. With a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre factory warranty, there was a lot to love about this package and the Stinger immediately went to the top of my list.
Australians have always lusted over a bellowing V8 from an SS Commodore or XR8 Falcon, however the Australian car industry is dead. The timing is uncanny of the Stinger's arrival on our shores, and with power figures to match, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a good sized, powerful, rear-wheel-drive family saloon.
The exterior styling is gorgeous from its stylish LED DRLs to its curvaceous rear end and sexy lines. There’s not much to dislike about the exterior of the vehicle other than the faux bonnet vents that sadly do nothing. The vents on the guards and front bumper, on the other hand, do their job and keep the big Brembo brakes cool and aid in blowing the brake dust off of the big alloy wheels.
Inside the cabin, you’ll find enough tech to keep your 16-year-old son happy, and leather and soft-touch plastics for days and stunning black velour headlining. The fit-out is very good and has a very European feel to it with the round air-con vents and large touchscreen display – I couldn’t help feel that I was still in my Benz! Ventilated and heated front seats were a big plus in my decision-making with our relentless Australian summers.
There’s ample room for four adults to sit comfortably, although the swooping rear roofline maybe a little low for some. The boot is generous and the auto tailgate is quick to respond, however the self-opening feature can be frustrating if you’re standing near the back of the car trying to get out the garage and it starts opening by itself. The 15-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo is crisp and clear with digital radio and the bonus of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The dials are clear and easy to read, and there are plenty of menus to keep you engaged including tyre pressure monitoring, g-force meter, lap timer, boost gauge etc.
The head-up display is clear, unless you’re wearing polarised sunglasses like I do, in which case you may as well turn it off because you can hardly see it. That being said, I do find myself looking at the digital speedo in the centre of the screen more than the head-up display or dial speedometer.
The seats are comfortable, no matter how long the trip, and both the driver's and passenger's seats are electric in every direction imaginable. The driver's with memory seating and the added bonus of electronically adjustable bolsters. With the press of a button you can hug yourself into the seats for a spirited drive, or relax them for a cruise down on the foreshore. Another plus to this feature is no matter your size you’ll fit. A lot of the cars I drove when making my decision were just too snug, especially for the amount of time I spend in it! (Focus RS and Civic Type R.)
The engine's power delivery is smooth and effortless, and boost comes on early and pulls right through the rev range. It’s comical how quickly you can get off the line and the mountainous amounts of torque have no trouble in getting it from 0–100km/h in under five seconds – not too bad for a car weighing in close to two tonnes from Korea!
The car can be a bit squirrelly if you’re too quick on the throttle out of tight bends, but the tight factory limited-slip differential will keep you in check even if you work your way loose. The traction control lets you have a little fun before it kicks in, and there’s also launch control if you choose to use it.
Fuel economy isn’t amazing, but it’s better than I expected averaging around 10L/100km, which is to be expected from something with a twin-turbo V6!
The eight-speed slushbox does an impressive job of taming the power and delivering snappy and smooth gear changes. I’ve heard people say it would benefit from a dual-clutch transmission and takes too long to downchange, however I haven’t found this to be a problem. That being said, one frustration is that the car will revert back to auto if left too long, even when you’re using the paddles, which can catch you off-guard.
The lack of noise from the engine and exhaust can make it hard to push the limits on a tight twisty backroad, but I understand Kia's decision to keep it tame with the key market being those who would appreciate a quiet and smooth ride. There is an optional factory bi-modal exhaust, however I couldn’t justify the cost when I can get a custom twin stainless system with Varex mufflers for less money. There is an option in Sport mode for an audible engine noise through the subwoofers, but it quickly fades as you rapidly approach the speed limit.
The big Brembo brakes are strong and so far have given no sign of fade, no matter the punishment.
Value for money, it’s hard to go past the Stinger GT. After all, what else can you buy brand-new for around $65K with this many options and such power figures?
In conclusion, I’m pleasantly surprised with all that the GT has to offer from the progressive Korean manufacturer. I could keep you reading for hours if I went into detail about every option in the car, but I’d encourage you to do yourself a favour and go and take one for a drive if you’re in the market for a new car. It’s pretty hard to fault. (Even the stats of the four-cylinder variant are impressive!)