The first burning issue is: Who is a Stinger right for?
I’d suggest if you’ve previously been into that rear-drive muscle thing, and you’ve been gutted by the demise of Holden and Ford, then Stinger is the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve seen some reviews quite keenly out of touch with the facts on this, and I’d suggest these are A) looking in the rear view mirror with rose-coloured glasses, and B) written by people still grieving the loss of the local bent eights and blown sixes.
And if you need a ‘C’, then, C) two-thirds of car reviews online are bullshit. So there’s that.
Me? I’d say hyper-criticality here is undignified and also that these things are machines - so they’re overwhelmingly better assessed in an objective and not emotional way. The fact is: the limits of performance on a V6 twin-turbo Stinger are very high…
...so high that you’d need to be a crazy-brave individual indeed, with breathtakingly poor impulse control, to drive one of these babies at the limit on a public road. Because if you did, and it all went wrong, your clothes would be out of fashion before the scenery stops.
I guess that leads to the key question: Should you buy the turbo 2.0-litre four cylinder or the twin turbo V6? It’s a $3000 upgrade, which in my view is trivial in the context of a $50,000-ish purchase that’s going to be a one-off for three-to-five years.
You get 50 per cent more peak power and 50 per cent more peak torque with the V6. And it’s 4.9 to 100 (kays an hour) versus 6.0. So it’s pretty hard to make the case for the four.
I spent a week in each - the four-cylinder first - and the four was OK. But the V6 is like going to business class for the first time. Economy seems even more shit, next time you fly, right?
I guess, if you make all your own clothes and you’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser, and you’re a tightarse, the four could be just right for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
There weren’t too many things I hated about the Stinger. The transmission logic could be better. It does play some … interesting tunes in the cabin on entry and departure…
the point is you need not suffer some South Korean software engineer’s idea of auditory foreplay and post-coital cigarette every time you drive your Stinger.
Just get the appalling chimes turned off. That’s do-able, I’m told.
Speaking of customisation, this car is very customisable. You really can select a range of modes and settings as your ‘Goldilocks’ Stinger settings preference. So if you buy a Stinger I’d highly recommend you take the time to wade through the menus and do this, because it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all deal.
There’s some very nice touches, too, from a user-interface point of view. You get message centre confirmation when you alter, for example, the lights. That’s quite neat.
However, I’m not sure it’s not just a little claustrophobic in the back for extended trips, given the somewhat high sills and the low roofline. But at least people do definitely fit back there, even full-sized ones - unlike in a lot of sports coupes.
Finally, there’s the safety rating - five stars for all but the entry-level models, which get three. I’m not going to dwell on this here - I’ve already done a full report on this, which I’ll link to a the end of this report. Suffice to say, it’s not a cynical exercise on Kia’s part, like it was for Ford with the two-star Mustang.
All Kia Stinger models crash the same, in the ANCAP tests - and the crash performance is worthy of five stars. Kia’s meeting a price-point on the entry-level models, and they don’t come with enough safety-assistance technology to earn five stars under the new ANCAP test regime. If you want five, it’s pretty simple: spend more money.
Stinger is a true grand tourer - it’s quite a bit harder-edged than a luxury car, but very rewarding to drive at eight out of 10 from A to B in the country. It’ll get you to the office and back Monday to Friday as well, plus it’s a bit of a head turner.
In my two weeks in Stinger I drove it in all kinds of conditions - freeways, backroads, urban cut and thrust. I really enjoyed it. I wondered for the millionth time what the obsession with SUVs was all about.
I could live with a Stinger V6 for three-to-five years without once feeling like I’d sentenced myself to a kind of automotive Guantanamo Bay. Quite the opposite.
It’s got a couple of minor quirks, but you can live with those. And the straight line performance is sensational. Serendipitous timing for Kia in ‘Straya - turning the demise of Ford and Holden into a solid commercial opportunity.