The end of local production of Commodores and Falcons has created a battle in the large family car market. The new German Commodore isn’t due till February, new Kia Stinger and Toyota Camry arrived earlier this year and both are pushing hard in the sales race while the Commodore slot is vacant.
Kia Stinger is making a big deal on being rear-wheel drive, unlike Commodore which is either front- or all-wheel-drive, Camry is front drive only.
Stinger is offered in four specification levels: S and Si with either four or six-cylinder engines; and GT-Line in the four and GT in the six.
Stinger is a product of Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt under the supervision of the company’s high-profile designer chief Peter Schreyer.
Long and sleek, Stinger could easily pass as a coupe rather than a five-door hatchback. From any angle it’s a spectacular looking car that attracted attention virtually everywhere we went. At 4.83 metres in length and 1.87 metres wide it’s marginally smaller than both the old (VF) and new (ZB) Commodores.
The extended bonnet is fronted by a black and chrome version of Kia’s tiger-nose grille. There is a short front overhang and a long rear one. A 2905 mm wheelbase providing for a reasonably spacious cabin.
All models come with chrome coated quad exhaust pipes.
With its low roofline entry and exit can be a bit of a challenge for tall and/or bulky occupants but once settled the front seats are comfortable and supportive, the latter especially so with the adjustable bolsters on the GT. Headroom in both front and rear is reasonable although we had to lower our driver’s seat to the bottom setting.
The rear seats are comfortable with reasonable head and legroom.
All models have powered driver’s seats.
The boot is wide and flat but without much height. Capacity is listed at 406 litres with the rear seatbacks in place and up to 1114 with them folded.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Kia Stinger come with the choice of two turbocharged petrol engines, a single-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder (182kW and 353Nm from 1400 to 4000 rpm) or a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 (272kW, and 510Nm from 1300 to 4500 revs). Both drive the rear wheels through Kia’s in-house eight-speed multi-mode automatic transmission.
The Stinger is sold with all-wheel-drive in some overseas markets however at this stage there are no plans to introduce this to Australia.
Kia Stinger 200S and 300S only gained three out of five stars in ANCAP testing because they don’t have autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist. The Si, GT and GT Line are rated with the full five stars as they do have these systems.
Standard safety features across the complete Stinger range include seven airbags; ABS brakes; stability and traction control; hill start assist; rear parking sensors; rear view camera; active bonnet lift system; LED daytime running lights; automatic headlights; two IsoFix child seat anchorage points; and impact sensing auto door unlocking.
Added features on the mid-spec Stinger Si are the aforementioned autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist, as well as front parking sensors and driver attention alert.
The 2.0-litre GT-Line and V6 GT variants get a 360-degree camera; electrochromic door mirrors; blind spot detector; rear cross traffic alert; dynamic bending light; and high beam assist.
Stinger S uses a 7-inch colour touchscreen, the others step up to an 8-inch screen. There is a three-tier audio system, with six speakers in the S; nine in the Si and 15 in the Harmon/Kardon system used in the GT-Line and GT.
All models have a satellite navigation multimedia system with 10 years of updates for SUNA traffic information and MapCare.
Also standard across the range are DAB+ digital radio; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay both with voice recognition. Speed dependent volume control is a neat feature.
There’s a convenient smartphone aperture at the bottom of the front console with a USB socket alongside it as well as a second one in the centre console. The GT and GT-Line have wireless phone charging availability.
Bluetooth pairing is straightforward and fast.
In the past many large cars from Asia have failed on the Australian market because they were big, soft and not particularly interesting to drive. Our test of the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol Stinger GT-Line shows that mould has been well and truly broken.
Stinger has been tuned to suit both Australian conditions and our drivers’ preferences. Handling is sharp, with quick turn in, good steering feel and the ability to change direction instantly.
Ride comfort is excellent and the big Kia wasn’t fazed by the semi-rough sections of our test route.
Engine response from the 2.0-litre turbo is good, with only a minimum of lag and there’s a big spread of torque from very low engine speeds.
We’re not great fans of sunroofs because of their infringement on headroom. Our test cars had this feature but because of their width didn’t pose the usual roof-brushing problem.
Rear vision is limited because of the long, low angled rear window although there are large side mirrors.
Fuel consumption from the GT-Line is listed at 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres, we registered 9.7 L/100 overall during our week-long test, and down as low as 8.3 in comfortable freeway cruising.
The combination of a head-up display that showed both actual speed and speed limits together with voice warnings of lane variations worked well. In fact almost too well, at one stage the 3-minute music track that was playing was interrupted six times, once with a radar warning the other five with lane closings and openings. The system can be fine-tuned to replace the voice warnings with differing tones.
Kia Stinger GT is the highest-performance production vehicle in the South Korean company’s history. It comes to Australia with a choice of two targets, either as a replacement for the big-two Aussie family cars or, more ambitiously, as a budget-priced competitor for mid-sized European luxury hatches.
Sales here to date have been limited by a supply shortage with only around 200 cars per month arriving … and selling immediately. Kia Australia is hoping to be able to ramp up imports to 500 per month early in 2008.
AT A GLANCE
200S 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $45,990
200Si 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $52,990
GT-Line 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $55,990
330S 3.3-litre twin-turbo petrol five-door hatch: $48,990
330Si 3.3-litre twin-turbo petrol five-door hatch: $55,990
GT 3.3-litre twin-turbo petrol five-door hatch: $59,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Stinger GT-Line 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 182 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 353 Nm @ 1400 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 201 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4830 mm
Wheelbase: 2905 mm
Width: 1870 mm
Height: 1400 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1693 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Solid Disc
Seven years / unlimited km