The Straits Times Car of the Year 2018: Kia Stinger is the champion

The performance saloon is first Korean car to clinch The Straits Times Car of the Year title

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 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 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 paired with an eight-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.

  • The Straits Times Car of the Year past winners

  • 2003: Volvo XC90

    2004: Honda Odyssey

    2005: Volkswagen Golf GTI

    2006: Honda Civic

    2007: Audi R8

    2008: Jaguar XF

    2009: Volkswagen Scirocco

    2010: Jaguar XJ

    2011: Range Rover Evoque

    2012: Porsche 911

    2013: Volkswagen Golf

    2014: BMW i3

    2015: BMW i8

    2016: Volvo S90

    2017: Lexus LC500

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 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.

 
 

Of the Superb, Mr Chua says: "Talk about having a name to live up to. But the Superb does, with a blend of space, refinement and equipment you would normally find only in luxury cars."

Ms Tan adds: "The Kodiaq 'Czechs' all the right boxes with little touches which make a big difference.

"The fact that it is quick on its feet and handles like something half its size simply makes it all the more endearing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2018, with the headline 'Kia Stinger is the champion'. Print Edition | Subscribe