The Motor Muse isn’t one to give car-buying recommendations on the official basis that this site isn’t about car reviews and I can’t really be bothered about giving any recommendations – but in reality, it is because The Motor Muse is as influential as your average tin foil hat wearer and probably just as sane. Even so, I do feel the need to grant an exception for the Kia Stinger, a car that you should totally go and buy.
No really. If you have the dosh in your bank and a vacancy in your garage, don’t stump for an entry-level German premium hatchback for that name. Ignore that herd mentality, head to your nearest Kia dealer and get one.
Is the Stinger really that great? Don’t know, haven’t driven one.
As mentioned before, buying recommendations really isn’t The Motor Muse’s schtick, but from what I have gathered from the volumes of reviews from other more credible car reviewers, the general consensus is that the Stinger works flawlessly as an everyday car and drives pretty well if falling just a little shy of greatness. So on that front, you can rest assured it won’t be a lemon.
The only criticisms you might encounter on the Stinger are those that wells up from the cesspool of internet commentaries. For some strange reason, there is a disconcerting amount of bile and gnashing of teeth from armchair commentators who still think Kia bangs together licensed tinpot cars in a decrepit sweatshop for a nefarious scheme to steal your hard earned dollars, while willfully ignoring all of its progress and accolades it has garnered over the years.
Most of the hate on the internet seem to emanate from self-proclaimed car enthusiasts, or as I see it, snobby brand loyalists. To them, the Kia badge is an irredeemable name. The Stinger is its false prophet that is here to confuse the masses and lead all astray. This I find rather perplexing. The Stinger wasn’t built for Kia fans (if there is such a thing), but fans of cars. Period.
Proof of which is in the car itself. For starters it’s rear-wheel drive architecture stands out in a market where front-drive layouts are the cost-effective norm with considerable time being put into honing its dynamics. Like its architecture, the Stinger’s interior is unlike anything else Kia has on offer and looks far more attractive than the offerings in its end of the market. And lastly, there is that sensuous liftback shape. Love it or loathe it, it is anything but a dull cookie-cutter form.
As far as Kia is concerned, they don’t need to produce something like the Stinger. They are already happily printing money with droves of their mainstream humdrum cars being sold around the world. Instead, the Stinger is a gamble. And it is in our best interests, as a community of car enthusiasts, even those who can’t see past that oval badge, to see it succeed.
Right now car manufacturers are shunning the good ol’ rear-wheel drive sedans in favour of derivative SUVs simply because they know customers are going to buy it for the ‘brand’. You know, that thing snobby brand loyalists are giving the Stinger stick for. This is why Porsche can’t seem to stop selling SUVs, while cars like the well-received Alfa Romeo Giulia isn’t reversing the sales trend any time soon.
If the Stinger’s accolades translate into sales, it shows that people still want driver-oriented cars based on its own merits. That we aren’t happy mindlessly buying anything with a favoured brand slapped onto its nose. This is literally exercising your capitalist right to vote with your wallet. Furthermore, being part of the fifth largest car maker by sales, Kia isn’t some small insignificant player nipping at the heels of giants. As such there will be plenty of eyes on just how the Stinger performs.
It sounds surreal to be saying that Kia is carrying the torch of enthusiasts with the Stinger, but if this plucky “cheap brand” from Korea pulls it off, other car makers might jump right back in with their own rear-drive four-door coupe or liftback to cream some of that enthusiast money and win some brownie points.
If it doesn’t, then it just goes to reinforce the stereotype that there aren’t enough enthusiasts out there who can afford saving it. Instead “enthusiasts” would rather have a desirable brand adorning its flanks, and we only have ourselves to blame as the proliferation of SUVs continue to replace all that is good and prized in cars.