I trust you’ve all been enjoying the good weather as much as I have. There are, however, two problems when we get a summer like this. Firstly, it’s easy to get used to it. Meal times in the garden; shorts and flip-flops; it’s nice. Secondly, being at work and having to look at the sun out of the office window feels like a slow and never-ending torture, waiting for clocking-off time.
For my first review this month I grabbed a Ford Kuga ST-Line X. This is the sporty, top-of-the-range model, and it looks fantastic. My test car was finished in metallic Magnetic; a deep, sophisticated grey. With black contrasting features – including grilles, vents, alloy wheels, roof rails and window surrounds – this Kuga has serious kerb appeal.
Inside the Kuga is a bit monotone: it’s very dark. There’s no aluminium trim or anything to break this up, and some of the plastics leave a little to be desired in terms of quality.
The cabin layout is a little clunky too. The multimedia screen and its surround is cumbersome. The raised-height gear lever would work well in a manual, but for the auto such prominence is not required: you barely use it.
To drive the Kuga is reasonably refined. My test car had a 2.0-litre diesel offering 180PS and 400Nm, sent to all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic. 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds and the top speed is 126mph. Power delivery is smooth and the gearbox, whilst not as slick as a DSG, is relatively unobtrusive.
Quoted combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg is probably a bit ambitious, and CO2 emissions are 134g/km. It does feature start/stop technology and the Intelligent AWD sends power to the front wheels most of the time when driving normally. Prices for the ST Line X start at £29,750 with my test car (complete with a couple of options) costing £37,255.
Next, the Kia Stinger GT S came back, and thankfully the weather was kinder to me. In the glorious sunshine it was time to put it to the test.
The Stinger is a sight to behold. The front is poised, with a low stance and shouty grille. 19-inch snowflake alloys show the huge Brembo brakes with red callipers. At the back four exhausts let you know this is a serious car. My test car was finished in Ceramic Grey which looks superb, especially against dark chrome detailing.
Inside, my test car had a sumptuous, deep red leather trim. From the inside you can tell the Stinger is a Grand Tourer as opposed to a sports car. The seats are comfortable. The cabin is well insulated. The trim is plush. Well, mostly: rivals have better interior quality but the Kia is still a nice place to be.
Powering the GT S is a 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine, which thumps out 370PS and 510Nm. It’s rear-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential and comes with an 8-speed automatic. It’s seriously quick: 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 167mph.
Despite this blistering performance, there’s no shouting and waving its arms about. The lack of sporty exhaust note was an anti-climax, but Kia have done this to give the Stinger a premium GT feel. My issue is that this doesn’t match how it looks on the outside.
The rear-wheel drive setup means the Stinger is aptly named: it has quite the sting in its tail. It demands respect but, if given it, is rewarding to drive. And in the dry, sunny conditions of late it was brilliant fun to drive. Priced at £40,535 and including Kia’s standard 7-year warranty it seems excellent value for money. Throw in the rarity factor and head-turning ability and it’s tempting.