Story: Barry Green
Photos: Kia Australia
AS a 1960s schoolboy, Barry Green spent his hard-earned pocket money on Racing Car News and Sports Car World, monthly enthusiast magazines he would studiously pore over at the expense of any text book. Little wonder then that reading about fast cars and motorsport led to a four decade career (not out) writing about same, initially as freelancer then author and professional writer. His exploits are captured in two recent release books, The Best of Drives 1 and 2, each a first-hand compilation of nearly 80 drives on some of the world’s greatest roads and circuits. This story is but one . . . (Headshot photo - Ernest Litera)
Drive - Brindabella Ranges & Wakefield Park, 320km
Car - 2017 Kia Stinger GT
AFTER nearly 11,500 sales and almost seven years on the Australian market, the very last Kia Stinger rolled off the local showroom floor late last month.
Approximately 90 per cent of the stylish sedan sold were the twin-turbo V6 GT version, a car that found favour with Down Under sport enthusiasts and various State Police Forces.
Unfortunately, the take-up in its primary market, North America, was not as successful and, amid a decline in sales of large sedans in general, Kia made the decision to discontinue production.
A shame, given the promise the Stinger showed upon its Australian launch back in September 2017.
“When launching a new performance model, there is nothing more complete than a drive over some twisty back block roads combined with a full-on circuit session,” I wrote at the time.
“Cue the Australian motoring media’s introduction to Kia’s first halo performance car, the twin-turbo, 3.3-litre V6 Stinger.” Here’s how it went…
Starting and ending in Canberra, the drive incorporated a run through the Brindabella Ranges to Wee Jasper and back via Wakefield Park race circuit at Goulburn; a searching test of get-go, handling, ride, NVH, comfort and ergonomics – and a great day out behind the wheel.
From Point Hut Crossing on the ACT’s southern border, sweeping corners linked by long straights lead along Tidbinbilla Road and onto Paddy’s River Road, the latter taking us past the NASA tracking station put to great use during the Apollo space program of the 1960s-70s.
Here, the road narrows and morphs into a series of sharp rises, falls and bends, so steep in places that it resembles a roller coaster ride.
Just before Cotter Rd, we turn off onto one of the best bits of driving blacktop in Oz. Once a tarmac hillclimb stage of Rally Australia, Brindabella Road unravels as a series of constant-radius corners and switchbacks.
By now, the Stinger has endeared itself bigtime, a constant stream of torque providing seamless drive out of the bountiful bends and making overtaking a cinch.
Built into the gradual slope of an expansive hill, Wakefield Park is 2.2km long and makes for a test of driving ability and car set-up, rather than rewarding bulk mumbo and grunt.
Not that the Stinger is wanting in the latter – with launch control engaged, we’ve already validated Kia’s 0-100km/h claimed time of 4.9 seconds.
A little body roll is evident on track as is diagonal pitch, but even when pushed to the ragged edge, the Stinger pretty much remains compliant and composed.
And while the brake pedal gained some travel, the Brembos stood up to the job as we’ve come to expect
Our drive and track test showed the Stinger as fulfilling the dual role of grand tourer and sports sedan pretty convincingly. A great first-time effort by its ambitious maker.
Car specs: Basic price new: $59,990. Engine: 3.3-litre, twin-turbo direct-injection DOHC V6. Power: 272kW @ 6000rpm. Torque: 510Nm @ 1300-4500rpm. Transmission: eight-speed auto. Weight: 1780kg. Drive: Rear-wheel. 0-100km/h: 4.9sec.