Kia Stinger GT 2021 review

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

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Affordable enthusiast performance

When Holden and Ford bailed on making cars here most thought it was curtains for affordable rear drive, fast family flyers.

But it wasn't.

However, our saviour didn't come from Europe, the US or Japan.

 

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It came from South Korea in the shape of the Kia Stinger fastback. This is the range-topping GT that'll set you back $67,690 to drive out the showroom. 

And its performance cred gives the last, fast Holden Commodore SSV Redline a run for its money. 

At your disposal is a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 with 274kW and 510Nm, bolted to an eight-speed shift-by-wire auto, with a mechanical limited slip diff driving the rear wheels.

It gets to 100km/h from standstill in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 268 km/h, figures not long ago would have done a supercar proud.

 

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Recently the Stinger range underwent a mid-life nip and tuck inside and out that extends to new LED rear lights that flow the width of the car and revised

turn indicators. Other highlights on the GT are the dark chrome on the grille door mirrors and bonnet vents. And the larger-than-before quad-exhaust outlets are chrome coated. The wide 19-inch alloy wheels have a new look and are encased in grippy low-profile Michelin boots.      

While the Stinger GT can't match the V8 chorus of past Commodores and

Falcons, push the start button and its V6 fires up with a purposeful bark thanks to the new-to-this-model, bi-modal exhaust.

The Kia comes with five driving modes; Sport, Comfort, Eco, Smart and Custom – so you can dial in how mild or wild you want your Stinger GT to be.

 

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Select Sport and the dash lights change to battle stations red.  Nail the loud pedal and GT flings the horizon onto your windscreen in no time as the traction control works feverishly to tame the power coursing through to the rear

Michelins. There's enough grunt to shove you back in the seat with power delivery and gearchanges (even when using the paddle shifts) turbine smooth. If that isn't enough for you , the Stinger GT has launch control that basically slingshots you into the distance.

Keeping Sport mode on, the Stinger GT feels settled though corners and giving the paddle shifters, pinpoint steering, Brembo brakes and accelerator a fair work out is a tonne of fun.

Equally, dial in Comfort and everything is parred back a few notches for effortless cruising.

Open the door and it's hard to believe this is a seventy grand car. The interior is plush, luxurious and upmarket not only in look but in the materials chosen and the many soft touch surfaces. Aluminium embellishes the console and black suede is utilised for the roof lining and visors. For extra light, just open the standard sunroof.

With a press of a button, you can adjust the powered nappa leather sport seats to hold you as tight as an anchovy in a jar, which is ideal when you want to fang around bends.

 

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In addition to the previously mentioned paddle shifters, the Stinger GT's flat-bottom leather steering wheel has a heating function and the buttons on the wheel are easy to reach and logically grouped.

The GT sports a premium 15-speaker Harmon Kardon system, a 10.25-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, a 360-degree camera, sat-nav, digital + radio along with music and Bluetooth streaming.

Adding to the tech and performance is a colour head up display and below that a 7-inch control centre, or instrument cluster with a heap of other menus and information.

Safety wise the Stinger GT has you covered with a full spread of airbags in both rows, stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

It also packs a mountain of the latest driver technologies including adaptive cruise control, blind spot avoidance and monitoring, lane-keeping, driver attention alert, parking sensors all round, a 360-degree camera, rear cross traffic and pedestrian alerts, and safe exit warning that warns of a pedestrian or cyclist, so you don't 'door' them. For those who forget their kids or pets in the back seat there's also a rear seat occupant alert!

While all the features work well and seamlessly there is a tendency for a barrage of alerts warnings and info that might intimidate a driver not used to such tech wizardry.

At a time when buyers are flocking to SUVs, it's refreshing to see a brand like Kia giving driving enthusiasts a car that more than satisfies their appetite.

 

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