The top-of-the-range turbocharged V6-powered Stinger GT S is a pretty tempting value proposition in its own right at £40,535, but only when you get further down the Stinger range can you fully appreciate how alluring an alternative to the familiar pack of style-conscious executive options this Kia really is.

The price of our 244bhp Stinger 2.0 GT-Line S test car, for example, only buys you a mid-spec Audi A5 Sportback with front-wheel drive and 187bhp; a front-driven VW Arteon with the same engine and transmission or a BMW 420i M Sport with rear-wheel drive but even less power and torque.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The ESP system struggles a little to stabilise the car if you’re aggressive through tighter bends

That means the Stinger’s rearwheel-drive handling ought to play a part every bit as central to the car’s appeal as its engine, styling or anything else. And for interested drivers at least, in spite of one or two frustrations, it’s certainly good enough to do that.

All of the advantages you’d hope to be rewarded with having opted for a rear-drive saloon – strong traction, uncorrupted steering and a natural sense of balanced cornering poise that can be tapped into to enliven the car’s driving experience – are present here.

None is quite delivered with any particular brilliance, it should be noted, but there’s enough purity and swagger about the way the car conducts itself, in any case, to give the Stinger clear sporting flavour even in this milder engine specification.

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Since the 2.0 GT-Line S does without the adaptive dampers of its V6 stablemate, it’s a simpler car to drive. It has a well-judged meeting of taut body control, high-ish lateral grip, crisp handling response and fluent-riding suppleness that serves it well on UK roads.

Just as there’s no disguising the car’s weight in its straight-line performance, of course, so there’s no mistaking it in the way the Stinger gently begins to run short of vertical body control at speed on really testing roads, and can’t quite keep its body as flat as some rival sports saloons manage when cornering hard.

Plainly, Kia could have chosen a firmer-sprung and more direct route to driver appeal with this chassis, but it’s to its credit that it didn’t.

As you begin to test the limits of the car’s grip level, you could certainly do with a touch more tactile feedback from the steering, which, although well-weighted, isn’t as communicative as it could be, and doesn’t return to centre as sweetly as it might.

And since you have a driven rear axle, nearly 250bhp and a limited-slip differential, it also seems a great shame not to have a stability control system you can fully disengage.

The Stinger has the makings of a very commendable track driving experience, with all the power, agility, body control and natural balance you could want. However, it’s prevented from being a car in which you might seek out opportunities to drive really hard by its gearbox and electronic stability control.

The transmission has a tendency to kick down when you use wide throttle openings even when you’re using manual shifting mode. It’s partly because manual mode doesn’t disable the pedal’s kickdown switch, but mostly because, even if you’re careful not to hit that switch, the unit’s ECU often simply decides that you need a lower gear even when you haven’t asked for one.

The stability control system does have an off switch, but it’s clear soon enough that ‘off’ doesn’t really mean as much. Even in Sport+ driving mode the system intervenes – and often does so quite abruptly.

Nevertheless, the Stinger strikes you as a car that’s poised and enticing to drive up to fairly committed level, but one that’s also mature-feeling and comfortable. By and large, then, it is exactly the kind of grand tourer its maker set out to create.

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