The Kia Stinger has beaten a field of strong contenders to become The Straits Times Car of the Year 2018 – the first Korean model to clinch the top spot since the awards started 16 years ago.
The performance saloon scored 315 point – 21 points ahead of runner-up, the Audi RS4 Avant. The RS4 was merely a point ahead of third-placed BMW M5.
Last year, only two points separated the winner (Lexus LC500) and the runner-up (Peugeot 3008).
The Kia Stinger won with its uncommon and uncompromising blend of sportiness, comfort and refinement.
Like all contenders, it was judged against its peers for nine key attributes: performance, handling, ride, build quality, efficiency, ergonomics, styling, value for money and X-factor.
Equipped with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the car gets 365bhp and 510Nm of torque going to its rear wheels. In short, thunderbolt and lightning – very, very frightening.
Yet, it is extremely balanced and civilised, hurtling towards the century mark in 4.9 seconds without wheelspin and with just a hint of a wayward rear even with its traction control switched off.
Lawyer Edric Pan, one of 11 judges in this year’s panel, says: “Out of nowhere, Kia has landed a stinging blow to the sports saloon establishment.
“The Kia Stinger looks great, delivers storming performance and has a genuinely superb chassis, combining a well-sorted ride with agile handling and entertaining rear-driven balance.”
Torque associate editor Jeremy Chua adds: “Kia has executed this fabulous fastback with absolute flourish. The design is right, the driving position is spot-on, and that tail-happy handling – it has unquestionably nailed this one. Utterly compelling.”
Another judge, freelance writer Lynn Tan, says: “The Kia Stinger possesses the beautiful proportions of a gran turismo and the performance which lives up to its name.
“Compared with Continental rivals with similar specifications, it is a smaller sting to your wallet.”
Two other cars deserve special mention in this year’s awards – which lined up new models launched by authorised agents. Namely, the Skoda Kodiaq sport utility vehicle and Skoda Superb sedan.
Skoda, a Volkswagen-owned Czech brand, has just returned to the Singapore market after a four-year hiatus.
Yet, two of its cars made it to the top 10 list (out of about 50 new models launched). A third, the Octavia compact sedan, missed making the mark by just a whiff.