ROAD TEST: Raw Power and poise of Kia Stinger Si
MY COLLEAGUE scoffed with disgust. "Sixty grand for a Kia.”
The brand battle for the South Korean marque remains real, but the blockades of old are being dismantled.
Playing a key role is the new Stinger powering into Aussie hearts with a twin-turbo V6.
It's the brand's new halo car, and yes, the range-topper will set you back more than $60,000 once the government takes its cut and the dealer costs are settled.
Yet we sampled the mid-range Si derivative, which shapes as the best value Stinger starting from $55,990 plus on-roads.
Here's the big question. Is it worth it?
For badge snobs, remove the oval moniker on the boot and bonnet and analyse the facts.
Reach 100km/h in less than five seconds.
The design was undertaken by European legend Peter Schreyer, who also penned the Audi TT coupe back when he was under the Volkswagen company umbrella.
Then you get kit like leather trim, nine-speaker sound system partnered with an eight-inch colour screen which is compatible with smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 19-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, along with dual zone air-con and steering wheel mounted paddle gear shifters.
Most importantly, it looks worthy of the price inside and out. There are hallmarks there which rival Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
Throw in an unmatched seven-year warranty with capped price servicing and roadside assist for the same period - had it hailed from a European stable the collective package would set you back six figures.
For extra aural enjoyment, we'd advocate the sports exhaust for the extra cost of $2659.99. What's performance without some pizzazz?
Servicing intervals are short in distance, required every 10,000km or annual, and cost on average $487 over seven maintenance visits.
Power and pleasure is derived from the dual turbos bolted onto the V6 engine.
Plant your foot and the rear-wheel drive wiggle arrives. The fastback Stinger hauls, and it feels every bit as quick as the specification sheet dictates.
Excitement from kids in the back, who had ample space with enough head and leg room for adults, is testament to bodies being depressed into the comfy seat-backs. The bride's sigh and bracing of the core is a further indication of its sporting prowess.
That's the beauty of the Stinger. It's a grand tourer one minute, brute the next.
When the Kia was launched it coincided with the demise of the Australian-built Commodore.
Kia globally couldn't have cared less about the Commodore or the Ford Falcon, and they never designed this car to be a rival, but it certainly shapes as an option for those chasing rear-wheel drive prowess.
It's a dying breed, and one squirt of the right pedal rekindles memories of old... only with more control and ability.
With various drive personalities, you can get the tail wagging in Sport mode, while steering wheel paddle shifters enable you to shift cogs yourself with the eight-speed auto - and you can even pull a downshift with reasonable revs on board while it will also push close to the 6000rpm redline.
Mechanical hardware like a mechanical limited-slip diff and Brembo brakes add to an impressive package.
GENESIS G70 (price to be finalised)
Due early this year, Hyundai's luxury brand twin shares the Stinger's architecture, in slightly shorter form, and mechanicals. Hyundai claims it's faster, 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
VW ARTEON 206TSi FROM $65,490
New sportback design, but a Passat under the metal. Propelled by a 206kW 2.0-litre turbo/seven-speed dual-clutch auto/all-wheel drive, it does 0-100km/h in 5.6 secs.
This mid-spec Si variant gets the all-important autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning to help avoid or lessen a frontal accident, lane-keeping assist which can keep you from wandering outside the lane, driver attention alert that analyses your driving and tells you when to take a break, front parking sensors, as well as radar cruise control which maintains the Stinger a safe distance from vehicles in front.
Try not to like the Kia Stinger. The bulk of sales have been the V6, and for good reason - it's a hairy-chested brute. While some still wince at the price tag, once you evaluate the facts and figures, the Stinger presents as tremendous value.
Is it perfect? Not quite, but it's an outstanding platform from which to work... and buyers of this model will be comforted by the best warranty in the business, brilliant sportsback looks along with good kit and some true mumbo under their right foot.
AT A GLANCE
2018 KIA STINGER
PRICES 330Si $55,990 plus on-roads.
ENGINES 33.3-litre bi-turbo V6 petrol 272kW/510Nm (meaty)
TRANSMISSION Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING Seven-year warranty (best) servicing ave $487 (short intervals)
SAFETY 5-star, 7 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise, lane keep assist (excellent)
THIRST 10.2 litres/100km (bit thirsty)
SPARE Space saver (expected)
BOOT About 400 litres (okay)