Not so long ago, the idea of mentioning South Korea’s Kia in the same breath as a luxury German automotive brand would have been better suited to the pages of a humour rag than a lifestyle magazine. But then Peter Schreyer and Albert Biermann became involved.
Schreyer joined Kia in 2006 to oversee the company’s design direction, following a 25-year tenure at Volkswagen Group that saw him receive international acclaim for numerous aspects of the company’s styling definition, particularly that of the original Audi TT. Upon taking his new position at Kia, he made it a personal quest to create a distinct and consistent design language for the brand, including its signature tiger-nose grille. And Biermann landed at Hyundai Motor Group, Kia’s parent company, in late 2014, directly from his role as vice-president of the M performance division of BMW, where he had worked for more than 30 years.
The Kia Stinger is the first fruit of their combined labours, developed at Kia’s Europe Design Centre in Frankfurt.
The model features 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque in its 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine; plus, it truly drives like a dream. With 19-inch, machine-finished alloy wheels and Brembo performance brakes, the car has very little body roll and a remarkably tight turning radius. From steering to throttle response and ride comfort to handling, nearly every aspect of how this car connects driver to road feels more befitting of a svelte sports car than a four-door sedan that seats five very comfortably.
And whether the badge on the hood is noticed or not, the car genuinely turns heads. The Stinger is legitimately gorgeous, and strangers will happily stop in their tracks to say that they agree. It also integrates Kia’s infotainment system, which while not precisely artfully laid out is among the most user-friendly on the market, incorporating dozens of radio presets, some with satellite radio recording functions, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The music it delivers sounds rich and fabulous through the available Harman Kardon 15-speaker sound system.
Still, the Stinger requires a compromise. While the seats are comfortable and supportive and are available in supple black or red Nappa leather, that same attention to detail does not carry through to the dashboard, where the coverings are less intricate and noticeably lower in quality. For those who appreciate the beauty within, though, the Stinger is likely to leave an impression.
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