Fourteen years ago when Kia took over the direct importation of their cars into Ireland, not many would have predicted that in early 2018 we would be driving a classy sports car like the Stinger that will go from zero to 100km in just over seven seconds.
Kia steadily built up their Irish range, starting with excellent SUVs like the Sorento, Sportage and Carens; then bringing in cars like the Cee’d, Rio, Optima, Venga, the funky-looking Soul and more recently the neat Stonic.
German-born designer Peter Schreyer has made huge improvements to Kia cars since he joined the company in 2006 from Audi. Together with Gregory Guillaume, they combined to produce the classy-looking Stinger, which is a completely new departure for the South Korean company. You can see from the photo on this page the beautiful sculpted lines on the red model. I drove a blue version with red seats.
When I was in short pants down in Kerry we dreaded being stung by nettles which grew wild in some of the fields. Never did I realise that I one day I would taste Nettle soup or drive a car called a Stinger with coupe-like styling.
According to Guillaume their design was partially inspired by the humble Coca Cola bottle. Obviously things go better with Coke. I drove a 2.2-litre diesel version, which wasn’t thirsty.
My automatic version with rear wheel drive was very comfortable to travel in. When you exit the car the driver’s seat slides back, then when you get back in the seat resumes its position. You get external cameras front and back.
The dash is dominated by an eight-inch infotainment screen and all the controls are well laid out and easy to use. I loved the toggle-type switches to control the heated front seats.
There is room for three adults in the back and the boot is massive. Underneath that massive boot space the good news is that that you get a proper spare wheel. My test model also had a sunroof, which certainly added to the classy look.
I have never driven anything as powerful and the nearest car I could compare the Stinger to looks wise is the Ford Mustang. But it doesn’t have that ‘growl’ from the engine that the Mustang does.
Anything Peter Schreyer turns his hand to seems to work for Kia. I don’t know if he admired Johnny Cash, but he certainly dresses like the great American singer, all in black. I am not going to dodge the big question here; it’s going to be a big ask to expect reasonably well off drivers who are used to German models like Mercedes, Audi and BMW to switch to a luxury Kia. But make no mistake, it will happen some day.
Prices start at €53,895 for the 2.2-litre diesel GT Line. The petrol 3.3-litre V6 GT model is priced at €66,895. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol version, but it will not be on sale in Ireland.
I am reminded of some lines from the old George Harrison hit ‘I Got My Mind Set On You.’ I will paraphrase: ‘It’s going to take time, a whole of precious time. It’s going to money, a whole lot of spending money, to do it right child…to buy a Stinger.’