Talking the talk is one thing, but the Kia Stinger walks the walk, providing a level of dynamic performance that’s comfortably in sight of its German rivals.
The chassis – even on GT-Line and GT-Line S versions – feels nimble and agile on the road, and grip is good. There’s little feel from the steering, and while switching between drive modes weights things up a little and alters engine and throttle response, it doesn’t affect the chassis set-up. Still, the car rides decently and has a supple feel, which encourages you to enjoy the drive.
Step up to the GT-S model, and the selectable drive modes do adjust the damping. The car feels refined and compliant in Comfort mode, and switching to Sport or Sport+ effectively reduces roll and softness, while still retaining a good level of ride composure. When driving faster, the electronically controlled rear-differential acts to keep the car’s nose pinned to your line, while the steering has good precision and weighting.
The systems can’t entirely mask the fact that the Stinger is a large, bulky car, but there’s a lot of grip to handle the impressive reserves of power, and you can make confident progress with a smile on your face.
The 3.3-litre twin-turbo engine in the flagship Stinger GT-S delivers its thrust efficiently and smoothly. With 510Nm of torque available from 1,300rpm it has plenty of low-end stomp, as well as developing impressive power as you rev the engine out. The car will hit 168mph and reach 60mph in 4.7 seconds with little appreciable turbo lag, which are convincing numbers in anyone’s book. The engine note is typically muffled by the turbos, but electronic enhancements generate a convincing growl in the cabin in Sport modes. The sound is never intrusive, but neither is it terribly exciting.
The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts itself smoothly in Comfort mode, but when you switch to Sport mode or employ the paddle-shifters you lose a bit of that refinement, and the shift quality is not as impressive as a dual-clutch Audi or ZF-equipped BMW.
If you don’t need such extravagant performance, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers 244bhp, which is still enough for a good turn of speed. The 0-62mph sprint is covered in 5.8 seconds and top speed is 149mph.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel offers 197bhp and 440Nm of torque, enough for a 7.3 second 0-62mph sprint and plenty of in-gear flexibility to easily match diesel rivals for performance. Both smaller engine options share the eight-speed gearbox with the GT-S, and there’s no manual choice.