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Specification:
Kia Stinger GT S
Engine:
3.3-litre V6 turbo
Claimed MPG:
26.6mpg, 225g/km CO2
Performance:
0-62 in 4.9s, 168mph
Weight:
1909kg
Price:
£40,535/£41,180 as tested

Woah, that’s a great-looking car, mate…” and then he hits me with the (sorry) stinger: “For a Kia.”

Actually, as a compliment, it wasn’t too back-handed. The guy really did like the car. I was parking and he walking in a London W1 street where Bentleys, Porsches and Maseratis are often jammed bumper-to-bumper.

He’s not the only one. People have twisted heads and grinned as it drove by, tapped on the window as it waited at red lights. It’s had a load of “nice car” comments, mostly from people I’ve never met, and not just from my neighbours who always say “nice car” if I’m in a nice car. If this thing had social accounts, it’d be humming with likes and upvotes.

I happen to think the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the direct opposition to this Kia, is a great-looking car too. But no one comments on the look of a BMW (unless an i8) to a BMW driver.

This might in part be because people think the Stinger is even more striking than the 4 Series, and doubtless too there’s an element of disarming surprise when they see the socking great KIA letters in chrome on the nose. I always have reservations about imputing a state of mind, but I suspect another factor is simply that we Brits do love an underdog. And don’t mind saying so.

So the first month of driving has proved that in its primary mission the Stinger is absolutely smashing. It’s a superb halo car for Kia.

The V6 Stinger will sell in biggish numbers in the US, but over here it’ll shift only in the handfuls. Even BMW and Mercedes can’t sell six-cylinder petrol cars here; they do their numbers with four-cylinder diesels. But the Stinger’s diesel version is also a small seller because it’s lousily uncompetitive on fuel and CO2. Thus building the Stinger for Europe can’t be much of a money-maker directly for Kia.

But oh what good it’s doing for the brand as a whole. If you were considering, say, a Sportage or the new Proceed, imagine how the Stinger’s existence legitimises your choice. Social commentators will before long call Kia a badge worth wearing, and an underdog no longer.

What do you think?

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