Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee
Kia Philippines, now under the leadership of AC Industrials, had its official re-launch of the Kia brand last January, and for the first time under the Ayala banner, it also participated in the recently concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) at the World Trade Center. After the brand launch, Kia Philippines president Manny Aligada was interviewed and asked many times if they will bring in the Kia Stinger high performance sports sedan that has been making waves in other markets.
Car fans and enthusiasts got their wish as the Stinger GT made its debut at the MIAS when it was “unboxed” on the inaugural day of the auto show, making a strong statement on how serious the Ayala Automotive Group is when it comes to positioning Kia in this market. With a target of 10,000 units this year, the Stinger joins the brand’s growing line up vehicles together with the all-new Kia Forte GT, which was also unveiled at the MIAS. These two models add up to a total of nine models in its line up.
The Stinger GT was faithfully based on Kia’s GT Concept car, was designed at the Kia Design Studio in Frankfurt, and had extensive development on the Nurburgring Nordschleife race course, also known as the “Green Hell,” the grueling proving grounds for a long list of high performance cars. Thanks to high-strength steel components used on the Stinger’s chassis, it gave the car a stiff platform to match its powerful 3.3 liter twin-turbo V6 engine. The design was overseen by Peter Schreyer, Kia’s chief design officer. Its suspension and handling development design was led by Albert Biermann, former head of BMW’s high performance M division, and currently Kia’s vehicle test and high performance development division team.
Focusing on achieving a perfect balance of ride, handling, and comfort, the car also had to be very capable. Each prototype had to undergo a minimum of 480 laps at the Nurburgring, and the project paid off, resulting in a sports sedan that is nimble, fast, spacious, balanced, luxurious, and quiet gran turismo, neatly packaged in a sexy and aggressive fastback.
“A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort, and grace,” explains Gregory Guillaume, Kia Motors Europe Chief Designer. “The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion,” he further adds.
This is considered Kia’s most ambitious project yet, its 3.3 liter V6 twin turbo gasoline engine comes with a direct injection dual CVVT system, with a maximum power output of 370PS @ 6,000rpm with a maximum torque of 510Nm @ 1,300-4,500rpm, propelling the Stinger from 0-100kph in just 4.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 270kph. As a comparison, a BMW 440i Grand Coupe is just 0.1 faster than the Stinger, while the Audi A5 Sportback is about 5.7 seconds, 0.8 slower than the Stinger.
The local Stinger GT variant comes with a rear wheel drive and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and underneath, the Stinger is equipped with a MacPherson strut and stabilizer front suspension, and a five multi-link suspension at the rear. And with a turn of a switch, the Stinger’s electronically controlled Dynamic Suspension integrated with Drive Mode Select, easily adjusts steering boost, shift points, throttle and suspension mapping. From eco, comfort to sport mode, the driver can easily set the driving dynamics and personality of the Stinger. Dynamic Torque Vectoring system also comes standard, as well as its very capable brake system that is powered by 4-piston Brembo calipers on the front and rear. The Stinger GT owes uses 225/40 R19 tires in front and 255/35 R19 tires in the rear to ensure surefootedness that matches with its high performance engine and suspension.
Aside from its high performance capabilities, the Stinger doesn’t come short on driver assistance. There’s the usual Auto Cruise Control and Blind Spot detection that comes standard but because of its low ride height, the 360-Degree Around View Monitoring System and Parking Sensors is a very helpful feature specially when parking or negotiating on tight spaces.
Right after the MIAS, Kia Philippines handed the keys of the Stinger GT for the model’s first-ever test drive review last Holy Week to this writer, and we took it to the twisty back roads of Tagaytay, to avoid the holiday traffic crowding main highways. It did not disappoint.
Ride comfort was comparable to premium European brands and inside, the Harman/Kardon Sound and Infotainment system performed seamlessly well on an 8” touchscreen interface with either Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the audiophile grade acoustics and sound quality made braving the holiday traffic much more pleasant. The Stinger literally floats like a butterfly and can sting like a bee when one taps into the accelerator pedal for a thrilling driving experience not felt in any Kia vehicle before. Truly, the Kia brand has come of age, and with this high performance sports sedan, we are looking forward to more surprises in the coming years.
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