Kia Stinger enters the sports saloon sector
This is nice,” says my wife. “What is it?”
Given we’ve only been driving for five minutes and she rarely shows this level of interest in even the most expensive supercars (understandably numbed from years as a passenger in a succession of random weekend press loans), this question is in itself a significant stamp of approval.
She’s right, it is nice. On the street just now, with its 19-inch wheels and slouchy silhouette, it’s possible I lingered for a second longer at the driver’s door in the hope that some passing stranger might think it was mine.
“A Kia,” I replied, after a beat. Silence befalls the red leather cabin as we both process this statement. Kia, after all, makes lots of cars – good cars – but none that are this, well, confident. Do they? Confidence bordering on cocky, but in that likeable way some people inexplicably get away with. Like Woody Harrelson maybe. Or Eden Hazard. Did I say it has red leather seats?
After nearly an hour behind the wheel of the Stinger GT S, it’s clear this car has the most likeable class of confidence of all, borne from actually being good. Firstly it’s fast, but in a light-hearted way; swift and purposeful thanks to its 365bhp twin-turbo V6 petrol engine.
This is a saloon that was designed more as a refined GT for eating up miles than anything too squealy, after all. Of course, that means it needs to deliver on comfort, and the cabin proves a very pleasant space to inhabit, with more bells and whistles than a morris dancing troupe, controlled by an eight-inch tablet within a minimalist dashboard. Even the sat-nav proves reliable.
So what is Kia up to? It’s clear the Stinger is part-statement, part-experiment to see, or rather show, that it can mix it with those highfalutin European car companies dominating the market and which tend to feature men who live in modernist glass houses within their advertising campaigns.
And as part-statement, part-experiments go, this has to go down as very successful. Not only does the Stinger GT S feel at home in that company, it brings a decent dose of audacity to the table. Cars at this level can feel both proficient and samey, so it’s nice to be surprised by a new face on the block.
It could be just an underdog thing. And convincing people to switch won’t be easy. But given that loyalty is surprisingly low for premium cars, with just 16 percent repeat-buying the same brand, Kia could be onto something.
“I’d buy one,” said my wife. And I’d be very happy if she did.