Once I make up my mind about a thing, it’s concreted in and thus it often takes a jackhammer to shift it. But sometimes, a jackhammer does come along.
I used to love Twinings tea. In fact, I would campaign vociferously for Twinings and often in room of Dilmah people. But not so much anymore. I fear they were great once, and as soon as they got that reputation, they just lay down on their laurels and thought they could get away with tea that tastes like it’s been diluted in a reservoir. What’s more, Dilmah and Taylors tell you on the back how they make a good, stout brew. Twinings has hired men with long hair to write theirs. And I won’t drink tea that says I’ll have a Zen moment.
I also used to be an utterly loyal Liberal Party fan. When I was 12 I got so sunburnt it hurt, entreating those who could actually vote, to do so for the Liberals. But last election they said that conservatives don’t matter anymore, and I’m a conservative, so my heart was broken into many pieces. I've told many, many people to put 1 in their box, but now, given the opportunity myself, I’d put a 2.
There’s another thing. Not so long ago, anything that Korea built was utter rubbish. KIA stood for Killed In Action, which in all truth was clever but wrong, because men who are killed in action are often brave. Trying, in other words, and failing, through no fault of their own. Simpson and his donkey were killed in action.
KIAs, on the other hand, were deliberately built – and I won’t quote a mechanic I know on this, word-for-word, because it doesn’t make good reading – horribly. And perhaps you could tolerate this. After all, a Triumph Stag or an Alfa Romeo weren’t exactly built to last many years. The difference is that Hyundai’s and Kias were often horrible in every way. They looked cheap, they went cheap, and they were cheap.
I guess you could deduce from this that I didn’t like them. You’re right. I was militant.
But then, something happened. I didn’t start liking them, but they did start becoming more likeable. Build quality, looks, technology, safety, performance – they all improved. Suddenly they were cheap without being nasty.
I got to wash a 2011 Kia Sportage Platinum inside and even though the owner had done all he could to make it rot, the interior plastics and switchgear felt very reasonably made. Unfortunately though, some buttons are still live even when the car is off, so suddenly while testing the quality, Michael Jackson CDs flew out of the stereo.
That was day one. Day two has come and I seriously don’t know why you would choose a Toyota Camry over a brand-new Kia Optima. The Optima is better value, with a much longer warranty, and having done my research, I’d argue it’s better built.
But this year, it’s just got better. Hyundai has started its luxury arm, Genesis, the first of which received the highest crash test score ever, and then they went on to steal a BMW Motorsport man and start N, the Hyundai sports division. Already that's off to an epic start.
Kia, meanwhile, unveiled the Stinger GT, and having looked for many days without water or food, at a long list, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the best car of 2017.
It’s not the best performance car, of course. That has to go to the McLaren 720S or Ferrari 812 Superfast. Nor is the most talented multitasker. That goes to the VW Up! GTI. But what the Stinger is, is an affordable performance car from a brand that has improved itself so drastically, that it’s now at this point. We knew they could make good cars. What they’re proving now, is they can make exciting cars too.
The name itself is exciting. I’ve asked anyone who would listen why it has taken over 100 years of motoring for someone to think of using the name Stinger. You can get goggles called Stinger. You can probably get bedroom fans called Stinger. Yet how much more something potent that has zoomed out of nowhere and is rearing its tail behind Mercedes-AMG.
I find it fascinating that here is a four-door sedan that’s much, much cheaper than a Porsche 911 Carrera, but it has the same power output. Of course, the 911 has more torque and thus it’s faster, but simply consider – a Kia is as powerful as a Porsche 911.
To put it in perspective a bit more, it's only 2 tenths of a second slower in 0-100km/h times than the mighty Mercedes C63 AMG. And that's baffling territory for a Kia to find itself in.
This is not what you'd expect to see under a Kia bonnet. For one thing, it looks all there.
Of course, I’d much rather have a C63 AMG and this brings me on to the fact that the Kia Stinger GT isn’t my favourite car from this year. I saw a new VW Arteon yesterday and it looks tremendously smart, and then the Volvo S90 which came out this year has a pure, beautiful interior, and my favourite of all would have be the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. It’s understandable that I should want a Ferrari more than a Kia, but the VW Arteon? That’s the thing. I now like Kia. But I don’t love it.
At this rate I will one day, but it’s been too soon. An overwhelming jackhammer has been applied, but there’s still some concrete left.
This of course is irrelevant. The Kia Stinger is an absolutely amazing car. And I’m left with no doubt. It is the best.
It's the best because even though it is a four-door sedan, costs $60,000 AUD, and a Kia, it's terrifically exciting. And you just don't see that mixing very often. In fact it happens so rarely, it's like seeing a comet.
It makes the year special.
PHOTO CREDIT: Netcarshow.com