Kia Stinger prototype driven

Kia Stinger prototype driven
Kia Stinger prototype driven

Our first go in Kia’s four-door coupe rival to the 4 Series

Kia is upping its game with the Stinger. It now wants to challenge the premium BMW 4 Series; to find out if it has what it takes, we took an early spin in two first-off-the-line right-hand drive Stingers in Britain, a 2.2-litre turbodiesel and 3.3-litre V6 GT.

First promising fact: it’s rear-wheel drive, just like a 4 Series. It’s a big car, more than 4.8 metres long, but Kia’s performance boss Albert Biermann reckons that’s great for ride comfort and stability. He also believes he’s overcome the agility challenges such a size presents.

We go in the diesel first. It certainly has a nice smooth ride, even on the standard passive suspension, and the steering is both accurate and nicely weighted in normal ‘Comfort’ mode. It’s perhaps a bit too weighty in Sport mode, mind: Kia’s going to dial this back before launch.

Kia Stinger V6 GT

Price: £41,000 (est)
Engine: 3.3-litre, V6, turbocharged, petrol
Power: 370bhp
Torque: 376lb/ft
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1800kg (est)
Top speed: 168mph
0-62mph: 5.1sec (est)
Economy: tbc
CO2/tax band: tbc

The engine performs well, as does the eight-speed gearbox: its response is a bit soft in Comfort but better in Sport, and steering wheel paddles let you easily take over if necessary. Kia chiefs fear this car might be a bit too sporting for Europe. Nonsense, said Biermann, and we agree. We suspect that’s why he’s brought the car over for us to drive…

Next up, the posh GT range-topper, with its 370bhp 3.3-litre V6. This time, we have adaptive suspension as standard, and it does feel rather more agile than the diesel. It’s a pretty quick too, although it doesn’t sound it. We might be too late to change anything here, as development of the motor has signed off: regardless, we tell Biermann a bit more noise would be nice.

It could get away with a bit more sharpness for the ride too, frankly, particularly in Sport mode – we can’t tell much difference between it and Comfort. This would sort an occasionally unsettled feel on the test track, which can have the body heaving.

We were also amused to discover the lively oversteer when pressed harder with the electronics disabled: Kia fits a standard mechanical limited-slip differential so racier types can have their fun with confidence there are no nasty tricks waiting in store.

On first evidence, then, the Stinger GT seems a very able alternative to a BMW. It performs nicely even in base diesel guise, and the V6 is fun. We have grumbles – a few cheap interior plastics, a substandard infotainment system – but it seems generally promising. If Kia can price it right, the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe could soon be facing a surprise new challenger.


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