It’s more about sensible and reliable hatchbacks, the big-selling Sportage SUV and its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
But this new Stinger, described by the company as a “four-door fastback”, is designed to change attitudes, make a statement and try to offer up a comparison with more premium brands – a flagship for Kia to help raise perceptions of the brand.
The obvious rivals are the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and Audi’s A5 Sportback, as well as the new Volkswagen Arteon but the Korean brand probably has the jump on all of them in terms of its looks.
The Stinger has a long, low bonnet and that elongated profile extends the whole way down to the rear, where four exhaust pipes hint at the Stinger’s performance.
It is certainly at its most aggressive and striking from the front and the brand describes the car as the most eagerly-awaited model in its history.
It’s without doubt the most noticeable and impactful model the Korean firm has ever put into production.
It’s also the first rear-wheel drive Kia that has come into the UK and it has been engineered for UK roads, thanks to the Kia team spending time over here to perfect a set-up specifically for the models coming to British shores.
The engine range takes in one diesel and two petrol alternatives, all turbocharged.
The most enticing is undoubtedly the 365bhp 3.3-litre petrol engine that is the fastest Kia has ever offered, covering the 0 to 60mph sprint in just 4.7 seconds.
Economy is predictably not great given that potency and the average fuel economy figure is just 28.5mpg.
More efficient is the 197bhp diesel at 50.4mpg, though it takes 7.3 seconds to accelerate from standstill to 60mph, and somewhere in between is the 35.8mpg 2.0-litre petrol model, offering 244bhp.
The less powerful engines will come in either GT-Line or GT-Line S specifications, while the 3.3-litre top model is only in GTS form.
The 3.3-litre engine is a real gem however, offering a smooth power delivery that provides huge surges of instant acceleration, making it an addictively-impressive powertrain.
Like all the engine options, the V6 comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s generally smooth enough, though it can get a touch flustered trying to decide which gear would be best when you exit a corner and ask it to deliver some acceleration.
But probably the most impressive thing about the driving experience is the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Stinger’s personality.
Partially that’s due to switching between the sport and comfort-orientated driving modes, but also as it’s proficient in either situation.
The Stinger is very capable of a composed and enjoyable rapid cross-country blast when requested, but will also serenely cruise at lower speed without feeling out of its comfort zone.
Kia Stinger 2017
The cabin is on some levels a bit of a let-down because it feels like a top-end Kia, rather than a more special £40,000 model.
Most of the switchgear and layout will be familiar to anyone with a £20,000 Ceed hatchback, though the aluminium finish on some of the switchgear is nicer.
But despite the addition of leather across the top of the dash and suede-feel material for the roof lining, it doesn’t quite feel like a luxurious or sumptuous cabin.
Attempts have been made to lift the overall ambience but look closer and it doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny as being special enough.
Equipment levels are up with a £40,000 price tag though and include a couple of firsts for Kia.
The Stinger is the first car to get a head-up display system, projecting speed, navigation and audio details on to the windscreen to save the driver taking their eyes off the road, while an electrically adjustable steering column is also fitted to a Kia for the first time.
As well as the eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and mobile phone link through the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto systems, the latest safety equipment is all present.
The Stinger GTS gets autonomous emergency braking, that will take action if it detects an imminent collision, lane keeping assist, high beam assist that flicks the main beams off when it senses an oncoming car, driver attention warning, blind spot warning and an active bonnet that pops up slightly to minimise impact on a pedestrian if needed.
The rear seats have plenty of legroom, unsurprising given that elongated wheelbase and side profile, though equally predictably the swooping roofline does put something of a premium on headroom for taller back-seat occupants.
The boot is hefty though shallow, but at 406 litres should just about swallow everything required for four adults to get away for the weekend.
As with all its cars, Kia’s seven-year, 100,000- mile warranty – the longest of any manufacturer – is offered.
It’s fair to say Kia is being ambitious with the Stinger, especially in the GTS form, with its very capable and entertaining engine, but it’s a big step from the decent range of cars that Kia sells at lower price tags, such as the Sportage and Picanto city car.
But it’s an aggressively good-looking car that offers space for four adults and their luggage, drives well and comes decently equipped.
Whether that is enough to tempt the predicted 1,800-2,000 people a year out of their BMW or Audi is a question that will be answered in time but it certainly deserves to.
Model: Kia Stinger
Price range: £31,995-£40,495
Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0, 3.3-litre; Turbo-diesel – 2.2-litre
Power: 0 to 60mph in 4.7 seconds, 168mph top speed (3.3)
Average fuel economy: 50.4mpg (2.2TD)
CO2 emissions range: 147-225g/km
Rivals: Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe, Volkswagen Arteon
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