Does It Live Up To Expectations? Kia Stinger GTS First Drive

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The Kia Stinger GTS is a car that has been much talked about for the last few months, and for good reason. What we have here, is a performance saloon to come from a company that has as much experience in this field as I do in ballet. Many have sung the praises of this Korean entrant to a world dominated by the Germans, so you can only imagine how high my expectations of this car were. Does it live up to them though?

Let’s talk power

A performance saloon needs to have as decent amount of punch, otherwise it will be as useful as chocolate teapot and as desirable as a pile of manure. Thankfully the GTS wades in to battle with a 3.3 litre turbochard V6 engine, which provides power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Granted, with a power output of 365bhp, it’s not as potent as the M3, but it’s a fair bit cheaper. It has 510Nm of torque to go along with the 365bhp, meaning you’ll hit 60mph in 4.7 seconds and continue to a top speed of 168mph.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive

The power delivery is strong, but I will admit that the 8-speed auto was a bit slower to respond than I was expecting, but thankfully you can take control of the paddles if required. Once you’ve worked the paddles a bit, you’ll find the changes smoother and quicker, but you may still be disappointed if you’re used to the efficiency of German autos.

Another complaint

Another complaint I have are the brakes. They are supplied by Brembo, which sounds promising, but in the real world I found they lacked the bite and crispness you would expect from a car like this. In the car’s defence, it had been driven hard all day and I was the last person to drive it, so maybe they had faded a bit. Despite this, I must say the response from the brake pedal didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive
The brakes may look beefy, but they’re not as strong as I was expecting.

So the GTS is no good then?

Oh no, the GTS is indeed a good car. Yes, the auto is a little slow and the brakes seemed a bit weak, but the Stinger GTS still has lot to offer. For starters it undercuts the BMW 440i Gran Coupe by around £6,000, but that isn’t even the impressive part. If you were to select the optional extras that bring it in line with the GTS’ standard specification, you’ll find yourself paying over £52,000. The GTS on the other hand, starts from a much more wallet-friendly £40,535.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive
The interior is not only a nice place to be, but the home of many toys.

Some of you may scoff, claiming that is too much money for a Kia, but what you get as standard is very generous indeed. Goodies include, 19″ alloys, limited slip diff, LED headlights, 8″ touchscreen, navigation, smartphone connectivity, Nappa leather interior, heated and ventilated front seats, head up display, front and rear parking sensors, 15 speak Harman Kardon sound system, plus much more. So it’s not as if you’ll be left wanting in the GTS.

Enough of that, what’s it like to drive?

Well you already know about the brakes and the gearbox, what about the rest of the car. There a fair few driving modes, but for my short blast I concentrated on Sport and Sport Plus. Well, that was after I realised I had the car in Comfort mode shortly I left the Kia stand – d’oh! Predictably in Sport the car feels more eager, more pumped up, plus the engine note becomes more vocal, but the noise isn’t quite as satisfying as you’d hope for.

In fact, after my drive, I revved the car to get some audio you the YouTube video and my wife, whom was helping me film, commented that the car sounded a bit muted. I’m not sure if this a deliberate move by the Korean brand to make the car a bit more subtle, but it’s a bit of a disappointing one.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive
If you’re expecting snarling thunder out the back then you’re going to be disappointed.

Hopefully you’ll be enjoying the drive too much to care. Through the corners the GTS is a satisfying car to drive as it’s got nicely weighted steering which is direct, plus there is plenty of grip on offer, even with the traction control turned off, although the weather conditions did make for sticky tarmac. The car could still be provoked in to wagging its tail from time to time, but the majority of the drive, the car felt planted and assured.

The car also feels rather nimble, which is good going for a car that has much leather and technology in it, meaning it weighs a grand total of 1,855kg. Despite this weight, I found that the GTS never felt wallowy, or heavy on its feet, so the engineering team have done well in that department.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive

Final Thoughts

It’s a competent drive for a car, which isn’t the norm from Kia, but I suppose that’s what you get when you have a helping hand from Albert Biermann, the ex-chief engineer for BMW’s M division. The Stinger does well in a lot areas, making it a compelling choice, but it’s not quite there, I definitely think there is some room for improvement, but for a first stab at this kind of car, Kia certainly could have done much worse.

Kia Stinger GTS First Drive

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