Around two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show, Kia leaked-out to the media a few sketchy details about producing an executive sports saloon with a powerful V6 engine that would frighten the traditional suspects from Germany such as the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series. There were a few raised eyebrows amongst the assembled hacks. Some thought it would never happen. More than a few had a hearty laugh.

Kia weren’t bluffing.

It’s here and it’s called the Stinger.

It’s an incredibly bold move by the South Korean manufacturer but, if this is what its first attempt at a sporty, grand tourer, 5-door saloon is like, then bring it on. Once Kia gets the hang of it, subsequent models should be most definitely worth waiting for.

There’s something you can’t deny before climbing into the Stinger, is that it looks good…in our opinion anyway. Put it this way, it’s the best-looking car that Kia has ever produced and, without sounding too parochial, it has a very European look to it. It’s wide with a long wheelbase. It has a low stance. We’re off to a good start. It has showroom appeal.

The 3.3 litre V6 Stinger is at the top of the range, but the start of 2018 has seen two new models arrive which will certainly broaden the appeal of the Stinger to a wider audience. The thumping V6 365bhp twin turbo model has now been joined by a 244bhp 2.0 litre petrol version and a 197bhp 2.2 litre diesel.

All three Stingers use an 8-speed automatic gearbox and are rear wheel drive.

If you want rip-roaring performance, the 3.3 litre Stinger will hurl you to 60mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed approaching 170mph. The sound from the exhaust is glorious although a fair amount of it is generated via the car’s audio system.

If you prefer economy, the diesel Stinger will get close to 50mpg.

For a fairly heavy car, there’s very little body roll and the suspension does a pretty good job of soaking-up lumps and bumps

However, if you are looking for the best all-rounder, it’s probably the 2.0 litre petrol version because you still get brisk performance with 0-60 taking a high respectable 5.8 seconds, yet you’ll still manage top 30s mpg. These are impressive figures for a sizeable sports express which is aimed fair and square at the GT market. If you fancy taking the family on a trip to the South of France, the Kia Stinger will be a brilliant companion.

Having said all of that, we’d always go for the 3.3 litre model. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with the other two, but the 2.0 litre model feels as though you have to work it….and the diesel has typical diesel noise and vibration. The most refined and the most fun is undoubtedly the full fat, V6 Stinger. It’s a cracking engine and, thanks to a load of low-end oomph, you just ease the throttle and the car scoots off from 1000rpm.

All three Stingers handle really well. For a fairly heavy car, there’s very little body roll and the suspension does a pretty good job of soaking-up lumps and bumps. The 3.3 litre Stinger comes with adaptive dampers so that you can adjust the ride to your mood.

It doesn’t matter which one you go for, the level of specification is top notch. Every Stinger comes with sat nav, DAB radio, heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, head-up display, smart alloys, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, air con, front and rear park assist, cruise control, and electric mirrors and windows. To be honest, there’s not much point even reaching for the options booklet. There’s a decent stack of safety gear too.

If you can stretch to it, raid the piggy bank and fork out £40,495 for the V6

If you prefer other goodies like a powered tailgate which opens remotely, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats and sunroof, then move up to the GT-S model.

The interior is really smart and the seats are comfy and supportive. It’s roomy too with plenty of legroom. The materials used on the upper surfaces are decent quality, but you can see where there’s some cost-cutting lower down with cheaper plastics. However, without being too picky, it’s well made and both looks and feels good.

So, this is a very different Kia.

Thankfully, some things never change at Kia. The Stinger comes with the traditional Kia 7-year / 100,000 mile warranty and with a starting price of £31,995 it represents sensational value. Add a couple of grand if you want the diesel…but if you can stretch to it, raid the piggy bank and fork out £40,495 for the V6. That’s the one we’d seriously recommend. Okay, you take a hit in the pocket and at the pump, but the payback in terms of enjoyment is immeasurable.

In other words, if you want a stunning sports express that offers incredible value for money wrapped-up in a distinctive body, then you will love the Kia Stinger. Go for the 3.3 litre model though.

For more info, see Kia