There’s no denying the fact that the Stinger was a game-changer for the Kia brand – it proved they could develop blisteringly fast and beautifully styled sports cars.
While the Korean company already had an excellent reputation for its family models, such as the Sportage and Ceed family, as well as fun city cars including the Picanto, the arrival of the Stinger added a real edge to the mix.
But that was 2017 and these days, petrol and diesel powered models are gradually making an exit stage left.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom because in its place we get the all-electric EV6. And we had the chance to take both models (in high performance GT and GT S guise) on a road trip to Bruges in Belgium.
Setting out in the Stinger, powered by the 3.3-litre T-GDi V6 engine in GT S trim, this car delivers 361bhp and 510Nm of torque. And that, when faced with open roads through France and Belgium, translates into a 0-60mph sprint time of 4.7 seconds and top speed of 167mph.
This is a car that’s simply guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes with its muscular streamlined curves, quad exhaust pipes, wide sunroof, LED lights, Brembo brake calipers and 19-inch alloy wheels. Our test car was also supplied in a beautiful bright orange shade that gave it added road presence (as if that was needed).
Moving inside, the interior is pure quality with nappa leather upholstery throughout, power-adjustable seats and steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, a 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system and lots more besides.
Sink into the supportive sports seats and you’re ready for the off. The Stinger powers up with quite a roar and rapid acceleration out the starting blocks is guaranteed along with a constant power supply at your disposal.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is beautifully timed and drive modes called Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ alter the reactions. The side bolsters in the seats move inwards for added support in the sportier settings.
Despite its dynamic good looks, the Stinger is deceptively comfortable over a long journey although the combined fuel economy of just 28mpg (if driven sensibly) will mean a few stops along the way. In addition, the carbon emissions output of 229g/km will result in hefty tax bills.
The four-door car stretches 4,830mm in length, 1,870mm across and is 1,400mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,905mm. Those figures mean the Stinger is a spacious vehicle with ample room in the back for three occupants. And the boot can swallow 406 litres of luggage, increasing to 1,114 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Factor in the maximum Euro NCAP safety rating of five stars and there is little not to like about the Stinger. It’s fairly pricey for a Kia at £45,210, but looks as good as German rivals and offers owners that extra exclusivity.
This was the model that really put Kia on the map amongst any doubters that a Korean carmaker could engineer such a fantastic looking sports model.
But then in true ‘In Bruges’ style, the Stinger is making a dramatic departure (with a little less gore, blood and expletives than the award-winning cult film).
However, just like the magic of the movies, there is a sequel. It’s called the EV6 and, in blisteringly quick GT guise, you soon begin to appreciate the added thrills an electric car introduces.
It is powered by a 77kWh battery delivering an output of 577bhp and a whopping 740Nm of torque. That results in a 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.5 seconds and maximum speed of 162mph. It also features all-wheel drive.
Although, it doesn’t have the out-and-out sports car appearance of the Stinger, the EV6 GT is a classy looking vehicle and with that pace, will see off all challengers from a standing start.
The road-holding is ultra grippy through tight curves and the body is beautifully poised and balanced. In fact, the only time we felt any body sway was whilst stationary in the upper deck of the Eurotunnel train.
Eye-catching features include a modern design with sweeping curves and rear privacy glass. It has LED lights, 21-inch alloys and GT styling cues with neon green brake calipers.
The interior is clutter-free, upmarket and very driver-focused with a 12.3-inch curved display screen with touchscreen navigation. There is full smartphone connectivity, a Meridian premium sound system with 14 speakers and, possibly the only surprise, were the manually adjustable seats, which in fairness is in line with true GT tradition.
These seats, along with the steering wheel can be heated to fend off the winter blues and a special mention to the striking neon green piping on the black suede bucket seats. It sounds a tad garish, but looks stunning.
Featuring a single-speed automatic transmission, the acceleration is smooth and responsive with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles in the blink of an eye. It can also be a little unforgiving if driven with a heavy right boot so be warned, this is a powerhouse of a car.
Drive modes called Eco, Comfort and Sport alter the characteristics of the vehicle and there is a very tempting GT button on the steering wheel. Press this and it automatically configures all the vehicle’s e-motors, braking, steering, dampers, e-LSD and ESC into their most dynamic settings. In other words it’s giving it the full beans! And for the truly adventurous, there is even a Drift Mode that sends added power to the rear wheels.
We were on public roads, so although the GT button had a little working, the Drift Mode remained unexplored … for now!
The official driving range between charges of the EV6 GT is a combined 263 miles or 339 miles of city driving where the regenerative braking helps to boost the battery power levels. There are four levels of regenerative braking that are easily controlled via the steering wheel paddles.
The EV6 GT is slightly shorter than the Stinger at 4,680mm, a little wider at 1,880mm, much taller at 1,545mm and has a similar wheelbase of 2,900mm. The boot capacity is larger though at 480 litres, increasing to 1,260 with the rear seats dropped. It has the added room beneath the bonnet too. It’s called the ‘frunk’ (front trunk) and can hold an extra 20 litres of goodies.
The extra new technology that comes with EVs means quite a difference in the price though. The EV6 GT costs £62,645 and, of course, the Government has withdrawn any incentives to buy electric cars these days.
That said; it will travel freely through Congestion Charge and low emission zones, for now at least. And it offers a more attractive Benefit in Kind tax rating for business owners of just two per cent compared to the Stinger GT S rating of 37 per cent. In addition, the first year tax bill will be zero for the EV while the Stinger will sting owners for £2,015. So financial savings can be clawed back.
Both models have their very own individual appeal. They both look amazing, boast oodles of power and each have their unique sounds too. That V6 engine delivers a raspy note while the EV6 has one of the best sound tracks of any electric car we’ve driven to date – no whirring at all.
While change is not always welcomed with open arms, there is something very special about the EV6 GT. The Stinger may have the aggressive good looks that all GT cars need, but moving forward the EV6 is our future – like it or not. And we liked it a lot.
The Stinger was unveiled at the Detroit (North American Motor Show) in January, 2017 and by November that year the company’s first Grand Tourer and first rear-wheel drive car arrived in the UK.
In a display of astonishing high speed to celebrate the official UK media launch of the new Kia Stinger, three ‘GT S’ models took to Cornwall Airport Newquay’s runway achieving speeds in excess of 150mph.
At launch, five Stinger versions were available in the UK, all with turbocharged direct-injection engines mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The GT-Line and GT-Line S were powered by a 2.0-litre 244bhp T-GDi petrol engine or a 2.2-litre 197bhp CRDi turbodiesel, while the range-topping GT S had exclusive use of a 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turbo V6.
In November, 2022, the Kia Stinger was withdrawn from sale in the UK.
The all-electric EV6, in ‘Imagine by Kia’ concept form, was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2019. By Spring of 2021, it was ready for its launch with UK pricing and trim levels announced for the first time. Costs started from £40,895.
The model line-up was ‘Air’ 77.4kWh lithium-ion RWD, ‘GT-Line’ 77.4kWh lithium-ion RWD, ‘GT-Line’ 77.4kWh lithium-ion AWD, GT-Line S’ 77.4kWh lithium-ion RWD and ‘GT-Line S’ 77.4kWh lithium-ion AWD.
The high-performance EV6 GT joined the range in the second half of 2022, offering 577bhp, 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds, a top speed of 162mph, and a dedicated ‘GT Mode’ for an enhanced and exhilarating driving experience. This car made its dynamic debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Both models secured maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety ratings.
Total Stinger sales in the UK since launch: 2,339 units
Total EV6 sales in the UK since launch: 5,135 units
Total EV6 sales in the UK 2022 YTD: 4,229 units
Total EV6 GT orders in the UK: 560