16 July 2021

Is orange the new blue and red? Kia is here to help settle Australia's oldest debate

| James Coleman
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Kia Stinger GT

The unmissable Kia Stinger GT posing by the Queanbeyan River. Photo: James Coleman.

There was a time when everyone in Australia was either blue or red. The allegiances went back generations and many – with stubbies in hand – would defend them near to death in local pubs.

But then the Ford Falcon, followed closely by the Holden Commodore, both went the way of the dodo. So, where do allegiances lie now?

I think orange is a contender.

In 2017, in the thick of Australia’s car manufacturing meltdown, Kia suddenly launched a V6 twin-turbo, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan called the Stinger GT. Was it a deliberate attempt to fill the void? Nothing official has been said, but now I know what word on the street is.

I’m driving the updated 2021 version through the Aussie-Aussie-Aussie town of Queanbeyan and people are looking.

That’s probably because it is ‘Neon Orange’, and together with the sweeping coupe-like body studded with an angry ‘tiger nose’ grille, gaping vents, dark chrome highlights, and no fewer than four exhaust pipes, looks absolutely gorgeous.

You sense that the rhetoric in their heads is being wrenched from “That’s a Kia” to “That’s a Kia?!”

Boot of the Stinger

It has a sting in its tail. Photo: James Coleman.

I approached the ACT Classic and Muscle car forum on Facebook to find out more accurately what local petrolheads are thinking.

“It’s not a muscle car. Can’t see it ever filling the shoes.”

“Just because it’s quick doesn’t mean it’s a muscle car. In saying that, I nearly got one and still might.”

“I think they’re fantastic. Thank God someone is still providing RWD cars … I’m willing to bet they’re better build quality than any Falcon or Commodore made after 2010.”

“The Stinger is hands down the best car I’ve owned for tech and power.”

“I have been in XY GTs and XB GTs that laid rubber in all four gears and some fast hot rods, but driving the Stinger was just as cool.”

“If I were looking for a powerful sedan, a Kia would not be in the mix.”

“I have driven one and thought it excellent. Have F6s and XR6 Turbos. I would absolutely buy one if they made a manual … It’s brilliant for the money and there’s not much like it for less than three times the price. Just missing a pedal.”

Bembo brakes

It stops as fast as it goes, thanks to meaty Brembo brakes. Photo: James Coleman.

“The idea of a car to replace the Holden or Ford is not the same answer for many people [but] the Stinger is certainly a player in the category of excitement.”

That last comment sums it up well.

The Kia Stinger GT will never be a direct replacement for the Falcodore duo, but we’re all glad it’s here at a time when almost every other mainstream car brand is in head-long pursuit of lower emissions and batteries.

However, none of this mattered on the frigid morning when I picked it up because the Stinger GT also comes with a heated steering wheel and that is simply the best invention ever.

Much like the outside, nothing inside even carries a hint of cheap-and-nasty. There’s black suede-like Alcantara on the roof, for goodness’ sake.

View from the back seats

Rear headroom is a little cramped, but it’s roomier than a Tesla. Photo: James Coleman.

It’s a very comfortable car to doddle about in, despite Queanbeyan doing its thing and throwing pot-holes at its 19-inch brushed wheels every few metres. The 8-speed automatic transmission didn’t annoy me once either by helping itself to gears at odd times.

Adjust the dial to ‘Sport’ mode and the driver’s seat hugs you tighter, the suspension instantly becomes taught and the exhaust noisier. The subdued grand tourer is no more.

All 274 kW and 510 Nm are dispatched through the rear wheels. Plant your foot and the results are predictable: the traction control clings to the reigns as the back end squiggles and it rockets forward.

You will be beyond the highest legal speed limit in a matter of five seconds and the noise, oh, the noise. I’m really going to miss that. Your head, chest, ears – it’s all treated to the symphony of old-school speed and power, and if that doesn’t describe a proper muscle car, I don’t know what does.

Kia Stinger profile

Moments later, those apartment balconies were crammed with people, craning for a better look. Photo: James Coleman.

2021 Kia Stinger GT

  • $67,690 driveaway (5-year unlimited-kilometre warranty)
  • 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol, 274 kW/510 Nm
  • 8-speed automatic (with manual mode), RWD
  • 10.2 l/100 km combined fuel use, 91 RON
  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

This car was provided for testing by Kia Australia. Region Media has no commercial arrangement with Kia Australia.

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