KOREA AGAINST Germany sounds like a World Cup fixture. However, it is not of two football teams that I speak.
On this occasion I am describing a car manufacturers’ showdown which threatens to break out into a full blown contest.
The Germans, as has been the case in the beautiful game for some time now (last week being an exception), have led the way in the car market for seemingly ages.
After a week’s evaluation of the new Kia Stinger, the Germans are being relent- lessly pursued by Kia.
Stinger have produced a jaw-dropping rear-driven grand tourer the likes of which we’ve never seen from any Korean car maker.
The rise of the Kia brand has been well documented over the past decade. While its superminis and small cars have gone from strength to strength, its crossover and SUV range now totals a not-insignificant five models.
But it’s the Stinger that represents the final piece in the firm’s complex and ever-expanding puzzle. The halo model launched last year with a powerful 3.3-litre V6 engine, but only now are the more modest four-cylinder cars starting to arrive in showrooms.
It’s a fabulous drive for a start, the steering is precise and accurate. As a result, you can float the Stinger from one corner to the next with a fluidity unlike that of any other Kia.
And at sensible road speeds, the steering is feel some and nicely weighted, too.
The four-cylinder 2.0 petrol and 2.2 diesel engines come with passive suspension, while the top-spec 3.3 petrol V6 has adaptive dampers (they’re optional on the other two models). Both the passive set-up and adaptive suspension – even set in its softest comfort mode – limit body roll well, so you never feel the car heaving from side to side overtly through corners.
The driving position is a thing of beauty. It took me less than a minute to feel at one with the Stinger. Adjustments are numerous, thanks to the standard electrically operated driver’s seat – including lumbar adjustment – and steering wheel, and you feel cocooned sportily by the high window line and centre console.
On the practicality front this outstanding grand tourer ticks another box. Even with a sunroof fitted (standard from GT-Line S), there’s enough head room and excellent leg room for those more than six feet tall.
Storage space is ample. There’s a large cubby beneath the front central armrest, space for two cups in front of that and, at the base of the dashboard, a further storage area that can
be hidden from view with a soft-close sliding lid. All four door pockets and the glovebox are a decent size, too.
The superb Stinger is full of toys. There’s an 8.0in touchscreen info- tainment screen in the middle of the dashboard. The Stinger is gloriously equipped, with sat-nav, a DAB radio, smartphone mirroring and various online services all included.
A nine-speaker stereo with a subwoofer is standard on the GT-Line model, while music lovers – and I am one of those – will appreciate the Harman Kardon premium sound system that comes on GT-Line S and GT S trims.
The stereo has an external amplifier and a centre speaker for surround-sound listening, and both sound clarity and volume are impressive.