When you’ve had the best, who would want to settle for anything else? Because humans aren’t always the most rational species, and we have a tendency to want what we don’t need. 

Our previous Carnival long term test car delivered outstanding family practicality well beyond the needs of my two-toddler family, and is arguably one of the very best family cars on the market. 

But it didn’t have a 272kW/510Nm twin-turbo V6, 0-100km/h claim of 4.9 seconds, a rear-drive chassis with Brembo brakes and genuine performance cred, all wrapped within a low-slung body dropping with sexy design details. And even though we need none of those things either, the Kia Stinger GT does. 

It also has five seats and doors, with one of the latter being a huge liftback that promises wagon-like practicality. 

From the moment the Kia Stinger first appeared in early 2017, it was hailed as the next best thing to the already-departed Ford Falcon and the VF Commodore that was on its last legs at the time. 

It is indeed close to these sedans most of us grew up with, but with a liftback opening to help bridge the gap between the cargo practicality we’ve grown accustomed to with SUVs. How effectively it bridges that gap, we’ll find out.

It sure ain't no SUV. It sure ain't no SUV.

The $60,990 (MSRP) Stinger GT doesn’t have a classic V8 growl, and nor does it line up on the grid at Bathurst in October, but more than two years later it’s still a standout in the market. The only close alternatives cost nearly twice as much, and are limited to the $103,200 (MSRP) BMW 440i Gran Coupe and $105,900 (MSRP) Audi S5 Sportback.

The 2020 GT brings the availability of the Neon Orange paint on our example, which was first previewed on the Kia stand at the 2017 LA motor show

Neon Orange has gone from the LA show stand to showrooms. Neon Orange has gone from the LA show stand to showrooms.

The only other change for 2020 is the heated steering wheel, which joins the heated and ventilated front seats. 

Ultimate train spotter detail: Heated steering wheel detail is new for 2020. Ultimate train spotter detail: Heated steering wheel detail is new for 2020.

It is easily the least obvious choice for a family car we've had to date, considering the Tiguan 132 TSI , Escape Trend, CX-5 Touring, CR-V VTi-S, Golf R wagon, Santa Fe Elite, CX-9 Azami and Carnival Platinum we’ve had over the past three years have all been either mid-size SUVs, a station wagon, or a full-size people mover.

First job as always was to fit my two 0-4 years baby seats, in the forward-facing position, which brought no challenges aside from needling to work within the lower roofline of the seductively tapered Stinger’s rear end. 

Impressively, the two ISOFIX mounts are covered by neat spring-loaded flaps, which require a lot less fumbling than having to jam the seat buckles between the cushions like many models.

The Stinger’s rising beltline and low seating position does restrict outward vision from the back seat, but no complaints from my kids just yet. They thankfully haven’t shown any signs of car sickness to date either.

Anyone who’s followed my family car journey will know of my ongoing desire to fit Grandma in the back alongside the two baby seats. The Stinger’s 23cm gap between the baby seats and 37cm between the ISOFIX points is a far cry short of the barely passable 40cm and 50cm measurements shared across the Santa Fe, CX-9 and CX-8 I’ve measured in the past. Sorry Grandma, you’re on the bus, but this is in line with expectations. 

One other advantage of fitting the baby seats is that the three headrests across the back row aren’t needed, so with them removed the visibility through the shallow rear window is significantly improved.

We collected our Stinger with 1004km on the odometer, and have managed to rack up another 2343km in our first month together. 

This included a trip from the Blue Mountains to Canberra and back, which yielded a highway-only fuel consumption figure of 8.3L/100km with a couple of toilet stops along the way. 

From this angle, you'd never know it was chockers with kids and luggage. From this angle, you'd never know it was chockers with kids and luggage.

Not bad at all for such a big (1780kg) and fast car, with a full load, in the heat of summer, on Regular 91RON unleaded. Oh, and neartl 2L/100km better than the 10.2 official combined figure on the windscreen sticker. 

 A bit more care was required to fit all our stuff in the back than the SUVs we’ve had before (duh), but it still swallowed more than enough of what we needed for the weekend, including the full-size pram and portacot. We just didn’t bring any of the kids bikes or extra big toys along. They’ll live, and as you might imagine, Grandma had plenty of all that waiting at the other end.

It won't carry everything, but it easily covered our needs for a weekend. It won't carry everything, but it easily covered our needs for a weekend.

Distance travelled this month: 2343km

Odometer: 3347km

Average fuel consumption this month: 10.8L/100km (measured at the pump)