While the car market is awash with SUV’s of all sizes, the variety isn’t as vast when you start looking at quick, sleek, sporty fastbacks. Kia are a brand that we know for their functional hatchbacks and SUV’s with the odd saloon car thrown in for good measure. Well not anymore. Now you can add quick fastback to their repertoire also. Say hello to the Kia Stinger.

One of the biggest challenges for Kia to overcome as the Stinger starts to fill Kia showrooms throughout the country is trying to convince people that it is in fact a reasonable alternative to the likes of their sporty German counterparts. In terms of exterior styling alone, the Stinger firmly holds its own ground. From its sleek frontal section, through its svelte flanks and up to its powerful haunches, the Stinger exudes a muscular confidence. The Stinger is no shrinking violet either, sitting at over 4.8 metres long and 1.87 metres wide and an extended wheelbase of 2.9 metres. The fastback silhouette is complimented by the addition of front air curtains, wheel arch gills and an integrated rear diffuser which also possess a functional role in aiding the Stingers aerodynamic efficiency. The rear styling and sporty appearance is further highlighted by the addition of four oval exhaust pipes while Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille sits proudly between the Stingers slim, sleek LED headlamp clusters.

The Kia Stinger is available in Ireland with two engine options; 2.2 diesel and 3.3 V6 petrol, along with two trim levels; GT-Line and GT. My test car for the week was the range topping 3.3 litre V6 GT. This car simply oozes class. Many will argue that it is unchartered territory for Kia venturing into such a segment, but they must start somewhere, and the Stinger is a very good first attempt. Bear in mind you still get Kia’s seven-year warranty which is unmatched by any competitor in this segment.

Sitting into the Stinger in GT spec you are greeted by a luxurious Nappa leather interior. The driving position seems to be spot on with numerous adjustments available through the electrically operated driver and passenger seats as well adjustable lumbar support for the driver. Both front and rear seats are heated while the front seats are also ventilated for those warmer days when you just need to cool down a bit. The steering adjustment is also electronically controlled to ensure you get it just right.

In terms of materials, the Nappa leather finish to the seats is superb. The seating offers excellent support and comfort. There are plenty of soft touch materials utilised throughout the cabin adding to the executive feel. Some of the finishes lower down do seem slightly inferior but are still hard wearing and durable. Kia have opted for the conventional analogue dials in the binnacle as well as a digital screen in between them showing all the relevant driving information. The head-up display is also standard on the GT trim providing speed and other useful information dead ahead thus reducing the amount of time your eyes are off the road and believe me that is where you want your eyes to be all the time!

Positioned in the centre of the dash sits a touchscreen infotainment system. This system is functional and relatively simple to use whilst it also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and Sat-Nav. A Harman Kardon sound system is also standard. There is also the welcome addition of wireless smartphone charging pad located beside the conventional charging points in the centre console. Space throughout the Stinger is plentiful either in the front or the rear whilst boot space stands at a respectable 406 litres.

Now, down to the interesting part, what’s the Kia Stinger like to drive? The steering is accurate, precise and well weighted. Given that the Stinger is rear-wheel drive it feels very well balanced and it handles winding country roads taken at speed with ease. The inclusion of the adaptive suspension dampers means that body roll is limited, and you never get the feeling that the Stinger is simply throwing you from side to side. Electronic controls play a massive part in ensuring the Stinger always feels solid underfoot. That said you can still have some great fun in it as you let the rear end slide out. I’d recommend the Sport + driving mode should be reserved for track driving as it turns off traction control and unleashes the throttle response to level crazy! Unfortunately, the AWD version won’t be available on right hand drive models but there is still plenty of fun to be had in the rear wheel drive version.

The 3.3 litre V6 petrol engine performs brilliantly and is paired with a seamless 8 speed automatic transmission. The Stinger will hurtle you from 0-100 km/hr in 4.9 seconds which is nothing to be sniffed at at all. The addition of steering wheel mounted paddles allows you to take charge of gear changes ensuring slick gear changes when you want them and thankfully the electronics aren’t too quick to over-ride your choice to draw out the revs a little bit further. Meanwhile the Brembo brakes all-around ensure that stopping is never an issue.

While the Kia Stinger is perfectly capable of quick off the line speeds and excellent throttle response when it is called upon in any environment. The Stinger isn’t all about ignorant acceleration. If comfortable cruising is the order of the day, then the Stinger ticks this box too. Matched with the interior comforts its easy to just sit in and drive for no reason at all, if only just to get out in the Stinger.

As I set out at the start, Kia’s biggest challenge in terms of the Stinger is educating the consumer as to what exactly it holds inside. It’s a big, stylish and fun car to drive and a welcome addition to the world of sport saloons. Kia should be applauded for what is a brilliant attempt at shaking things up and it makes for an interesting future as to what they might grace us with next. I for one want to see more of the same from the Korean brand while the new Stinger should definitely be considered when it comes to judging for the Irish Performance Car of the Year.

Technical Specification

Engine Size – 3.3 V6

Fuel Type – Petrol

Power – 370 bhp

Torque –  510 Nm

Acceleration (0 – 100km/h) – 4.9 seconds

Top Speed – 270 km/hour (with 8 speed Steptronic)

Consumption (Combined) –  9.9 litres/ 100 kilometres

CO2 emissions – 225g / km

Road Tax – €1,200

Starting Price – € 66,895