The Kia brand has been in Malaysia since the late 1990s and it has been a long journey to gain acceptance by consumers who have been used to Japanese products for decades. The Korean carmaker has persevered and with its product line – and especially quality – improving rapidly over the years, it has reached a stage where it can be considered on par with the Japanese. Independent studies have confirmed this and in fact, recent JD Power quality studies put Kia at the top of the list.

Having gained recognition, Kia is now looking into segments that used to be challenging for Korean brands but which it can now take a shot at. In particular, the sports sedan segment which the Germans monopolise is one area which the Korean carmaker has set its eyes on with the Stinger.

Naza Kia Malaysia also believes it is the right time to move further upwards and has launched the Stinger in the Malaysian market as well.

Two variants are available – the 3.3-litre V6 GT variant priced at RM309,888 (without insurance) and the 2.0-litre GT-Line which has a pricetag of RM239,888 (without insurance). Yes, you probably gasp at the asking prices but times have changed and the Stinger is also a credible contender in the sports sedan segment.

“Driven by Kia’s motto ‘The Power to Surprise’, the Kia Stinger ushers in a new era of innovation for the Korean brand while preserving its DNA to deliver the best performance, comfort and features. With that, we believe the Kia Stinger will elevate the brand’s identity and will be a revolutionary benchmark for the future of Kia vehicles,” said Dato’ Samson Anand George, Group CEO, Automotive Group, Naza Corporation Holdings,

With its sleek fastback silhouette and rear-wheel-drive proportions, the Stinger has a strong presence. Its aerodynamic profile is further enhanced with the bodywork tapered slightly towards the rear of the car and new ‘gills’ introduced behind the front wheel arches, each serving to reduce wake turbulence as air passes over the car’s flanks.

The aggressive stance is amplified with Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, sitting proudly at the front between full LED headlamps and accentuated with honeycomb-shaped, dark-chromed, hot-stamped patterns added onto a black base to ensure a premium exterior.

Inside, the sophisticated cabin space evokes a luxurious feel with its aircraft-style design and high-quality finishes in modern key colours. Ultra-soft Nappa leather envelopes the deeply contoured seats (natural leather for the 2.0-litre variant). Both variants offer 8-way power driver seat and 4-way mechanical lumbar support for the perfect seating position.

Aeronautically-inspired circular vents at the front and rear and a satin chrome ring tastefully encircle the cabin, cocooning the occupants to give a sense of security. The luxurious ambience is created by warm and inviting LED lights that softly illuminate the interior.

Both the engines are turbocharged with the smaller one being from the Theta family and using a twin-scroll turbocharger to boost output to 251 ps/353 Nm. The 3.3-litre engine has two turbochargers and an output of 365 ps/510 Nm, so it’s a serious challenger in its segment.

As would be expected of a true GT, power goes to the rear wheels. For optimum power delivery, Kia designed and engineers its own transmissions, with the one in the Stinger being a second-generation 8-speeder specially designed for rear-wheel drive.

The transmission also features Kia’s first use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter (on the 2.0 GT-Line) to help reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain, a technology more typically found in aviation and racing engine applications. As with the suspension and steering, the Stinger’s rear-wheel drive system is fully integrated with its 5-Drive Mode, offering distinct calibration between comfort and sport modes.

For intuitive control and smarter, more spirited driving, the Stinger’s innovative Shift-By-Wire transmission control allows the driver to switch between transmission modes through electronic controls. The gearbox can be set to intuitively manage shifts on its own or selectively run through the gears via paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.

To allow the driver to explore the superlative limits of handling, the Stinger has Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) that features the sophisticated Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system. This system monitors driver inputs and road conditions and then automatically distributes power in real-time based on the driving situation, minimising understeer in the process and gives the driver confidence to maneuver in even in the most inclement weather. Other features include Electronically-Controlled Suspension and Rack-mounted Motor-Driven Power Steering.

The Stinger rides on a chassis with 55% advanced high-strength steel. The MacPherson strut front suspension employs large diameter shock absorbers, high-strength wheel bearings, and an aluminium strut brace, while the reinforced 5-link rear suspension is mounted to a stiffened rear subframe for durability.

Given the high-performance capability, Kia has fitted as standard Brembo disc brakes featuring quad-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers.

The lightweight monobloc all-aluminium calipers reduce unsprung weight and are coupled with large diameter brake discs (13.8-inch front and 13.4-inch rear) that quickly dissipate heat and help to deliver short stopping distances.

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[Chips Yap]

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