Launch complex

Stinger aims to take down some big reputations

ANDY ENRIGHT

KIA STINGER GT

Date acquired: April 2018

Price as tested: $60,685

This month: 1582km @ 10.3L/100km

Overall: 3403km @ 10.9L/100km

Supply and demand

If youí wondering why you havení seen more Stingers on the road, blame that on supply rather than demand. For the first 18 months of its production run, Australia only gets a fraction of the cars it can sell. Ití currently receiving around 200 cars per month, making the Stinger the second best-selling car in VFACTSí large-car category. Ití behind Commodore but easily outsells the Toyota Aurion and Skoda Superb. It also shifts nearly four times the volume of its junior sibling, the Optima.

I HAVE an admission to make. Having driven the Stinger GT for more than two months, I had yet to activate launch control and had a gnawing suspicion that my man card would be revoked if I ever mentioned this in the office. Upon further reflection, I realise that I donít actually have a man card, so perhaps demolishing something rapid at the lights could render me eligible for some sort of standby list.

Itís not that I was nervous about the mechanics of launching the Stinger. Iíd done it many times at the drag strip with previous Stinger test cars. Itís just that when you run a long termer, you tend to baby it a bit, to treat it as if itís your own. I havenít cleaned the wheels on the thing yet, so I havenít totally gone down that tragic route, but you get the point. It doesnít get the snot beaten out of it like a car on a one-hour assessment drive.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to see if the Kia was as brisk off the mark as I remembered.

RASH GUARD A prior custodian had kerbed my GTís rim. Glass half full? It takes all the anxiety out of squeezing into a tight parking spot

It came when I found myself at some local lights next to a guy who lives a few doors down the road. He seems nice enough, but he lives just far enough away so that he merits the nod rather than any speaking per se, and he drives a Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. Anoraks will know that this car is 0.6 seconds quicker to 100km/h than the Stinger GT (4.3 vs 4.9s claimed) thanks to the advantage of allwheel drive, more power and less weight. No point shooting fish in barrels and all that.

I was fairly confident that, given the element of surprise, I could destroy him. Studiously ignoring his attempt at a cheery wave, I surreptitiously fingered the stability control off, and gave the mode dial a couple of sneaky clockwise jabs into Sport. At this point, my plan started to come apart at the seams. Upon arriving in Sport mode, the exhaust note dropped a couple of octaves at idle, which was heard by old mate. I heard his engine note subtly pitch up as he primed for green. I was still confident, because I was certain heíd never give the car he was paying $409 a week for (I looked it up) a merciless flogging off the mark.

And then he did. And I lost. It didnít really help that in my anxiety to go, Iíd not quite primed launch control properly, but I think he must have been hugely entertained by the sight of me sitting in my own blue cloud of ineptitude. In other news, I donít like beer and I post cat pictures on Instagram.

ANDY ENRIGHT