It wasn’t long ago that questions about the rear-drive Stinger liftback were met with a ‘no comment’ from Kia Motors NZ general manager Todd McDonald.
Now he’s positively bubbling about it, certainly after settling on pricing for the three-model range. “The new Stinger will lift Kia into a different league – this is a car with the X-factor,” he said.
“You haven’t seen a car like this before. Stinger has the power to surprise in a number of ways, not least through its rear-wheel drive architecture, which will stamp it as a true driver’s car.”
Will that ‘power to surprise’ include a future role with the NZ police as a highway patrol car, eventually replacing the Australian-built Holden Commodore?
The flagship Stinger GT Sport certainly has the firepower. Its 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine delivers 272kW at 6000rpm and 510Nm between 1300-4500rpm, output that betters all but the most powerful VF Commodore V8. Kia claims a 0-100km/h sprint time for Stinger of under five seconds and top speed of 270km/h.
It is the first Kia to be developed by its new head of chassis development, Albert Biermann. German Biermann was previously the head of dynamics for BMW’s go-fast M division.
Australian police are already evaluating Stinger, said Kia Motors Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth. “The brake package meets their requirement, the wiring meets their requirement, it can be upgraded simply without drama,” he said. “Performance figures are what they want. Now they have to assess if they can steer it or not.”
Adopting the Stinger in NZ further down the line would be just another step in the existing cooperative agreements between police forces on both sides of the Tasman.
Holden stops building the VF Commodore in a matter of weeks. It will be replaced in NZ and Australia next year by a new Commodore, a rebadged Opel Insignia from Germany.
Holden’s agreement to supply the NZ police with vehicles is believed to be in place till 2020-21. Holden is not saying but under the agreement it can be expected that the rebadged Insignia variants will appear in NZ police livery from next year.
But beyond 2020-21, who knows? Will Holden hold on to the contract? Will other carmakers muscle in? The Kia Stinger will be nearing a mid-life facelift by then and any reliability or performance issues will have been settled.
The Stinger GT Sport goes on sale in NZ at $69,990 plus on-road costs. It will be joined by two other models, the GT Line and EX Turbo, both using a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine putting out 193kW/353Nm. The GT Line is priced at $59,990 and the EX Turbo at $54,990.
All three Stingers run an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes leather interior, paddle shift gear changes, autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control, LED headlights and much more, said McDonald. Kia expects to announce the launch date soon.