Sunday, May 20, 2018

Loflyt Review: That Korean Sting

Hyper Bold

Michael McWilliams

18 May 2018

There are few cars that have been hyped as hard as the Kia Stinger, but there's a reason for the hype. This isn't just a change in presence for Kia. It's a much need injection of sport into a portion of the market consumed by SUVs. 

The accessible performance sedan lives (again).

I know I'm not alone in the feeling that something died with the passing of Australian manufacturing. The Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore were the last pockets of resistance against the incessant global appetite for high riding practicality. But those corporate battles for passion over the power of increased profitability were lost. The doors are closed, if not the wounds.

The Kia Stinger does not replace either of those cars. Nor does it out BMW a BMW (for what that's worth these days). The Stinger presents a watermark example of what a modern RWD sport sedan should be. Rigid, powerful, demonstrably fast in a straight line, and a measured dose of mongrel through the corners.

The example I drove was the 330 Si in Deep Chroma Blue. For 56k AUD you get the twin turbo inter-cooled G6DP 3.3 directed injected V6, which cranks out 272kw@6000rpm and an ass shoving 510nm from 1300 (yes, you read that right)- 4500 rpm. Stamp your boot onto that throttle and you instantly recognise (and are thankful for) the need to have 255/35/R19 rubber keeping the rear axle in line. As Russel says, "At my signal, unleash hell". And so ensues the sprint to 100, done and dusted in 5 seconds, though I doubt anyones assertion that they relented there... 
You can roll out the guns for as long as your courage allows, but you quickly exceed the point were you should be looking over your shoulder. There's a good chance that you'll be steering somewhat with your right foot, and a good chance that you'll want to do it again. 
225/40s up front are ably assisted by brembos, to help return everyone back to reality.

Let's not pretend that the Kia isn't a fine looking piece of gear, but it's clear that the motor is the star of the show. Spectators coo at the exterior, passengers giggle nervously, and eventually laugh out loud at the performance. 

Comfort wise the 330 Si manages to present a decently premium cabin, with supportive seats and a thumping sound system. There's enough room for four adults, though the rear seat will feel compromised for some.  Up front, the driver is treated to a nice sized wheel and low set driving position. The brushed silver look on black almost manages an art deco vibe, though the screen sitting proud of the dash seems more like a forced brand design addition than something integral to the product.

The liftback design constantly feels like a surprise because it's kind of new here... well, since the demise of the Telstar TX5. Okay so maybe it's just uncommon for me. Either way, the practicality is clear when it comes to loading shopping in the back. It means the whole luggage space is usable and you don't have to bend down to reach the back corner. Add in the standard Kia 7 year unlimited km warranty, and the practicality is right up there with anything from the SUV kult.

This car isn't about practicalities though. It's aiming for passion. That means creating an environment for the front row, which feels special, and allows them to be a little selfish. The Stinger does well in this department, by making the controls purposeful and easy to access prior to departure. Pilot assist tools are on the right hand side behind the wheel, with ESP program and shifter selection on the left.

The Shifter is well shaped for the hand, and the starter button has the solid aluminum reassurance that you are starting a machine, rather than turning on a stereo.  The whole thing feels like you are slotted in the breach ready to fire. There is a sense though, that you are programming for launch.

When you've made your selections, checked your mirrors and warned your passenger, you can keep both hands on the wheel, and use the paddle shifters to stoke the fires. This steel-springed version doesn't rely on electrickery to get you around a corner. It's limited in compliance which demands the driver take note and care of the road surface. Not harsh, but an ever present firmness as a reminder that, yes, you can take that corner.

If you are keen on sport, it's best to adjust the drive mode accordingly, because default/comfort mode is for numpties. Sport is a much more appropriate intent, and the Stinger responds with more squirt at better angles. Slotted behind the long bonnet, it feels pendulum like when you push those big rears but could do with more sharpness up front. You can't stand on the nose and tip. It's more like stand on the brembos and swing.  

It's no great stretch to imagine falling in love with this car. Dreamy good looks, prodigious torque and seating position that immerses the driver, all add up to a winning package. 

Prices start from $46,990 for the 200S, and stretch up to $60,000 AUD for the 330 GT. That seems a little sharp compared to out going local performance sedan prices, but those horses have bolted. 

In its own right, the Stinger is a car that car people can fall in love with as a daily. And just as importantly, it can get non-car people to fall in love with driving gain... now, about that third pedal...


The Good:
Performance, comfort, technology and all that toooorrrqquue;
Looks superb
Same outstanding 7 year unlimited KM warranty

The Bad:
A little narrow in the second row, middle seat is raised;
Price kind of.... but not really;
Sticky outy screen looks a bit awks
More front end pointiness please (but similarity may come with more seat time...) 

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