Sting in the tail

A sideways Korea move puts a Wheels favourite into Enrightís garage

ANDY ENRIGHT

Ready, fire, aim

The Stingerís sat nav has its quirks. Its guidance is usually spot-on, but getting an address into the system takes some perseverance. It doesnít seem to let you choose a town without first entering a street name, and wonít list available streets. Even if you know a full address and start with the first field, the door number, thatís enough to crash its logic. Looks like Iím going to have to get better acquainted with Android Auto functionality.

SEE THAT car up there? That was supposed to be a Range Rover Velar. Iíd spent weeks conditioning my partner to the idea of larging it like the wife of an AFL player or moderately successful plumber and, after much cajoling, I was getting somewhere. Slowly she was coming around to the notion of adventure slightly more ambitious than a gravel driveway, but not anything as hardcore as growing a beard or killing your dinner with the back of a spade. Then at the last minute, that plan fell to pieces and I ended up in a Kia. Not that Iím complaining. How could you when you have a 272kW rear driver with a great stereo, tyres with actual tread still on them and a scheduled six months to enjoy it in? Silver linings and all that.

The more observant amongst you might have clocked that weíve already given V6 Stingers the nod in a couple of Wheels comparisons, and Iíve got a bit of a soft spot for these big-hearted bruisers. This one wears no options other than $695 of Deep Chroma Blue paintwork, which has a subtle purplish pop in bright sunlight. It still comes winging in at around five grand under the luxury car tax threshold, so makes all kinds of sense for the private buyer whoís never quite recovered from the demise of the Falcon G6E. Factor in the seven-year warranty and huge standard equipment list and itís easy to see why, despite supply limitations, the Kia GT is so popular with Aussie customers.

One of the recurring grumbles from the comparison tests was that the Stinger was a bit mute, so I was excitedly informed that this example had been retrofitted with the new bi-modal sports exhaust, designed by Melbourne-based manufacturer Lumens. It took about four seconds to decide that I hated the exhaust, and I drive mostly in Eco mode in order to silence its intrusive racket. Granted, it does sound good when giving the car a prod in Sport mode, and introduces a bit of much-needed musicality to the top end, but it probably requires a little more calibration on when it ought to butt out.

A downside of driving in Eco on freeways is that the otherwise excellent adaptive cruise control becomes a bit of a liability. If a slower vehicle in front pulls over, the Stinger will accelerate to its assigned speed so slowly that youíll be checking the rear view mirrors for fear of being mown down by a jinky tectonic plate or a darted sloth.

The other downside of driving in Eco is that while the exhaust is quieter, the transmissionís insistence on holding subsonic gears means that it sets the speaker grilles rattling as the engine labours uphill. Thereís a Smart mode and a Custom mode with which to experiment so I hope to be able to find a workaround in due course.

Otherwise, the Kia makes a strong first impression. Having seen how easily a Stinger cremated a set of tyres during performance testing a few months ago, Iím deliberately being very careful with the soft Continental boots. That rubber turned to mouse fur after a few sideways passes for the camera, so the otherwise tempting stability control button has, thus far, remained unprodded. Iím trying to drive it Ďnormallyí. That said, the definition of normal may change over time.

ANDY ENRIGHT

Sound the charge

The downside of running the infotainment via Android Auto is that you need a USB wired connection, which then means the phone no longer sits neatly on the Qi wireless charging pad. On the plus side, not only do you circumvent the

Stingerís clunky nav, but you also get a slicker media interface which will display full playlists and such like. The phone also seems to charge about 50 percent quicker when cabled up than when sitting on the inductive pad.

KIA STINGER GT KIA STINGER GT

Date acquired: April 2018

Price as tested: $60,685

This month: 337km @ 12.7L/100km

Overall: 337km @ 12.7L/100km