Kissed by a Stinger

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MPV shopper Chua Yew Teck makes unexpected detour for Kia's ST Car of the Year 2018

When Mr Chua Yew Teck started looking to replace his Renault Grand Scenic multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) at the end of last year, the cars on his shortlist were seven seaters like the Toyota Estima, Toyota Alphard and Kia Sorento.

At that time, the pet food brand manager's daughter was about two years old and a second child was on the way.

"The family was growing," says the 33-year-old. "I was looking at a bigger seven-seater."

But the sizzling Kia Stinger made him change his mind. While looking at the Kia Sorento in November, he spotted the Stinger at the back of the showroom. "One would have thought that for a halo car, it would have taken a more prominent spot," he says.

On his second visit just after Chinese New Year, he noticed that the Stinger had won The Straits Times Car of the Year award.

"There were banners and stickers of the award around the car," he says.

The Stinger is the first South Korean model to clinch the top spot since the annual awards started in 2003.

Mr Chua adds: "I checked out the car, opened the door and sat in it. I liked the premium interior and the sporty design."

Still, his focus was on the Sorento and he did not pay much more attention to the Stinger.

On his third visit in April, he recalls that the salesman had worked out the sums for him to buy the Sorento, including the trade-in value of the Grand Scenic.

"Then he introduced the 2-litre Stinger," he says with a laugh. "Everything changed after that."

boot2 What is in the boot? A pram, a portable mini fan, a backpack, a shoebag

The 2-litre Stinger costs about $15,000 more than the Sorento. "It was within my budget," says Mr Chua, who paid about $160,000 for the car.

He test-drove the Stinger, followed by the Sorento.

"I was sort of sold after driving the Stinger," he says. "The 'wow' factor was very high. I like how the instrument panel welcomes the driver and how the seats and steering wheel move into place after I sat in the car."

After mulling over it for about a week with his wife Cindy, he decided on the Stinger.

Did the car winning The Straits Times Car of the Year award last year play a role in the decision?

He replies: "It helped raise my awareness of the car. It definitely played a part."

"The review in The Straits Times helps to give a local context to the car," he notes. "The other reviews I read were overseas reviews."

He admits that his boyhood dream was to own something like the Nissan GT-R. "But the GTR's 2+2 seating is less practical," he says. "It is also expensive."

An 11-year-old GT-R with a renewed certificate of entitlement costs about $180,000, while a twoyear- old car costs nearly $400,000, according to listings on car trading portal sgcarmart.

Mr Chua did not consider the 3.3-litre version of the Stinger. "My budget was the Sorento. The 3.3-litre would be out of my budget," he says.

His Stinger was registered on June 6 and the car has clocked barely 1,600km.

What is your favourite feature of the car? "The ventilated seats," he says, after a pause.

He usually drives the car in the Comfort and Eco modes. "I describe my driving style as 'smooth driving'," he notes.

He admits that it can be a little cramped to have a rear-facing baby carrier for his newborn son, a booster seat for his two-year-old daughter and his wife on board.

But he says he has no regrets getting the Stinger. "When the children are older and need more space, I can still get a seven-seater then," he explains. "I can drive a sporty car when the children are young."

He is taking his Stinger on its first Malaysia road trip this weekend to Genting.

"I look forward to driving the car every day," he says. "It talks to the heart."

Still, he has not given up his dream of owning a GT-R one day. "But for now, the Kia Stinger fulfils my dream of driving a sporty car."

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