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No surprise if Kia Stinger’s a big hit 

page 23 Kia Stinger

KIA has come up with some cracking models and raised its profile considerably since its slogan ‘The Power to Surprise’ was launched back in 2005.

The South Korean car-maker adds to this slogan that it will do so ‘with dynamic and exciting experiences that go beyond your expectations’.

Well that statement has never been truer than with the latest Kia model I have just been driving.

The Stinger is the company’s first attempt at bringing a gran turismo model to Europe and you can’t fail to be surprised at just how good this car is.

The Kia sign might be a deterrent for badge-snob motorists who prefer to pay more for prestige German brands.

But if that’s the case then they are missing out on what is a bargain buy in this sector.

This five-door fastback is the most adventurous model in Kia’s history – the first rear-wheel drive car it has brought to Europe.

There are five Stinger versions, all with turbo-charged direct-injection engines mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The GT-Line and GT-Line S come with a choice of 2.0-litre 244bhp T-GDi petrol engine or 2.2-litre 197bhp CRDi diesel with the range-topping GT S featuring a high-performance 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine.

The GT S is the most powerful and fastest-accelerating Kia production model ever – racing from zero to 60mph in just 4.7 seconds and capable of 68mph.

My test car was a 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line S and this super red-coloured model was a real head-turner.

The Stinger drew huge attention wherever I parked it – and that was hardly surprising with its stunning bold looks.

Top marks go to Kia’s design chief Peter Schreyer and European design boss Gregory Guillaume.

The long bonnet features air intakes and Guillaume’s ‘sleek and sharky’ front has its tiger-nose grille mounted between the headlamps, and there’s a large lower grille and air intakes.

My model had sporting 18-inch alloys with more air intakes on the sides.

And the sporty look continues at the rear with spoiler and quad tailpipes.

The bight interior, with its wide sunroof, doesn’t disappoint either with lots of luxury features – all coming as standard.

There are far too many to mention here but these include leather upholstery, front-heated and air ventilated seats, electric tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.

The attractive leather-covered wing-shaped dashboard is only broken in the middle by an eight-inch touchscreen.

There is no shortage of audio, communication and information features, including Bluetooth with music streaming, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, satnav, 15-speaker Karman sound system and front and rear USB ports.

Kia Connected services feature TomTom with traffic, speed cameras, local search and weather updates.

There’s also wireless mobile phone charger, re-versing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

There’s plenty room up front and the roomy interior can seat three passengers.

A good-sized 406-litres boot extends to 1,114-lires with rear seats folded and a power tailgate enables easy access.

On the road, the Stinger continued to impress with excellent overall handling.

Push the start button, put your foot on the alloy pedal and you can speed up to 60mph in just 5.8 seconds with a great engine roar coming through

The eight-speed auto transmission works well with this engine, with rapid response when required.

There was lots of power when needed for mid-range acceleration and plenty on tap when sitting at legal speeds in a car capable of a top speed of 149mph.

There are five different driving modes and you can also change gears manually with the steering-mounted paddles.

Ride comfort was never too hard even on some potholed surfaces and the Stinger was a smooth and quiet performer cruising at motorway speeds.

It also showed great agility when tackling some winding roads with super grip going in and out of bends at speed.

With its various setting, the Stinger is fully equipped to help you enjoy sporting or relaxing driving, depending on your mood.

And fuel consumption figures are also pretty good – 35.8mpg combined, 44.1mpg extra urban and 26.6mpg urban.

There’s also stacks of safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, high-beam assist, driver attention warning and blind spot warning.

And I loved the head-up display that projects key information, including speed, navigation instructions, cruise control and blind spot detection, onto the windscreen.

With prices starting at £31,995 and the test car costing £35,935 on the road, this flagship Kia model won’t sting you in the pocket.