ROAD TEST: Kia’s future police Stinger
The Kia Stinger range starts from $50,500 drive-away for the 2.0-litre turbo; there are three grades of luxury for that engine alone.
The cheapest ticket into a twin turbo 3.3-litre V6 is $53,600 drive-away; we're testing the top of three V6 grades, the flagship GT. Which is the same model used as the base for the new Queensland Police highway patrol vehicle.
It runs out at $65,000 drive-away at full retail, although we're reliably informed there is plenty of wriggle room.
Standard fare includes Nappa leather seats with eight-way electrical adjustment for both front seats, premium 15-speaker audio, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, digital radio and built-in navigation.
The D-shaped sports leather steering wheel has paddle shifters, and there's a head-up display reflected into the windscreen.
The flagship gains a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, LED headlights, staggered wheels and tyres (the rears are wider than the fronts), high performance Brembo brakes and two-mode suspension.
Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km and the cost of routine maintenance over the first three years is $1056. The service visits at 90,000km and 105,000km are steep at $617 and $785 respectively.
Warranty is best in the business at seven years/unlimited kilometres.
The interior has an upmarket appearance, seemingly inspired by Mercedes-Benz.
The fit, finish and quality of materials are impressive although some of the dials and switches feel a bit plasticky.
The sleek roof may not suit tall people when getting in and out, but there's plenty of legroom for back seat passengers, who also get rear air vents to keep their cool.
It looks like a sedan but in fact it's a large hatch, which makes it easier to load bulky items.
The sports seats are comfortable and the driver's seating position has ample adjustment. As with many cars the thick windscreen pillars can obstruct visibility in corners.
All Kia Stinger variants now come with a five-star ANCAP rating after autonomous emergency braking was added across the range.
In addition to seven airbags standard safety kit on this grade includes lane-keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors.
In the right conditions - that is, when it's not too hot - the twin turbo 3.3-litre V6 (272kW/510Nm) with eight-speed auto can match the performance of the Holden Commodore SS V8, stopping the clocks in the 0 to 100km/h dash in 5.1 seconds, a touch slower than Kia's claim.
However, hauling 1800kg around - about the same weight as a VF Commodore SS - the Stinger gets thirsty, even when not fully exploiting its potential. We averaged 13 to 16L/100km even though we weren't being silly. It was thirstier than I was expecting.
The test car was equipped with an optional $2300 bi-modal exhaust to give the engine some character; it was ok but some might find it a drone.
My main issue is the handling. The cheaper models don't have two-mode suspension and they feel a little more planted.
The GT's trick suspension - designed to switch between comfort and sport modes - tends to thrum over expansion joins. I'm also not a fan of the Continental tyres on the Stinger.
They are the same type that makes the Honda Civic Type R hot hatch so amazing, but on the Stinger they tend to wriggle around. On the front, they prematurely wear their outside edges.
On take-off, the rear end wiggles to the left slightly, a combination of soft sidewalls on the tyres and soft rear suspension bushes, say those in the know.
Kia is beginning to fit Michelin tyres to Stingers sold locally, which addresses these issues to an extent. However, a more thorough suspension overhaul on the Stinger is not due until 2019 or 2020.
Our pick would be the next model down, the Stinger Si: it gets the wider rear tyres and one type of sports-tuned suspension.
Holden Commodore VXR
It doesn't have the performance to match the Kia because the V6 is not turbocharged (235kW/381Nm), but you do get all-wheel-drive, 9-speed auto and Brembo brakes. It's just not quick in a straight line (0 to 100km/h in about 6.2 seconds).
Skoda Superb Sportline
It's not be an obvious alternative but the Skoda is worth a look. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine (206kW/350Nm) the six-speed all-wheel-drive Superb gets to 100km/h in about 5.5 seconds.
Infiniti Q50 3.0tt Red Sport
A curveball suggestion but a strong contender if you're able to haggle on price. One of the best kept secrets of the quasi-premium performance sedan world. Powered by a twin turbo V6 (298kW/375Nm) matched to a seven-speed auto and rear-drive, the awkwardly named Q50 3.0tt Red Sport does the 0 to 100km/h dash in 5.0-seconds neat all day long. Brembo brakes help it stop.
The Kia Stinger has the performance sedan market to itself for now, and a broader range of prices to help woo buyers. The only other car that would come close to getting my money is the Infiniti Q50 3.0tt Red Sport. Be sure to haggle.
At a glance: Kia Stinger GT
PRICE $65,000 drive-away
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors
TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto, rear-drive
THIRST 10.2L/100km (claimed)