By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Gregg Ziak
Kia makes some great cars like the Optima Plug-in Hybrid and the K900 premium luxury sedan. Yet they’ve never offered anything quite like the all-new 2018 Stinger. It’s a rear-wheel-drive (also available with AWD) fastback sport sedan that’s actually a hatchback.
One would think that a performance car equipped with a twin-turbo V6 engine, ample luxury, safety and high-tech features plus gorgeous styling would be out of reach. Yet our Micro Blue Stinger GT checked in with a bottom line below $40,000.
The long and winding road to the showroom began in 2011 when Kia introduced a concept car called “GT” at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The production Stinger is the result of a global effort by designers, engineers and company execs to bring the car to life.
The Stinger looks sleek, muscular and distinctive. It wears Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille flanked by LED headlights. Our tester was fitted with an exclusive GT grille with matching lower trim, black chrome side and hood vents, and dark chrome window moldings.
Ride along with our editor in this video as he drives the Stinger GT on some of his favorite roads. “Our verdict after driving the new Stinger GT for about a week is … we love it!” he says. (video © CarNichiWa.com)
Stinger’s design was crafted at the home of the GT concept, Kia’s studios in Frankfurt, overseen by Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer. Our gorgeous test car turned plenty of heads and generated lots of questions from folks on the street. Most were surprised to learn that the Stinger is a Kia, while others had heard about the car yet not seen it in person.
Under the hood, the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, standard on GT, GT1 and GT2 models, develops an impressive 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a stout 376 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,300 to 4,500 rpm. Base Stinger and Premium models are fitted with a 2.0-liter single-turbo 4-cylinder that puts out 255 hp and 260 lb.-ft. All models feature a sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift gate plus steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Stinger rides on 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 225/40ZR19 Michelin summer performance tires up front and 255/35ZR19 in the rear. Kia tuned the front strut and multi-link rear suspension on the Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany. The result is a car that handles remarkably well on the street. It also stops quickly thanks to standard Brembo high-performance brakes.
In this Walkaround video, we take a closer look at some of the Stinger GT’s key features starting on the outside, moving to the engine compartment, the driver’s seat, the rear seats, and the cargo area. (video © CarNichiWa.com)
Stinger GT comes with safety features like seven airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, and Parking Distance Warning. Our tester added the Advanced Driver Assistance System Package with Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian detection, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning.
The cockpit-styled cabin puts the driver in control of the Stinger GT. We liked the sporty flat-bottom, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, big analog gauges with red needles, and floating tablet-like center display touchscreen.
Our tester featured comfortable and supportive leather-trimmed heated power bucket seats. The bolstered design held us in place during quick turns. Those seeking more luxury touches can move up to the GT1 model that includes an Integrated Memory System for the driver’s seat, steering wheel and mirrors.
Rear seat passengers are treated to comfortable seat along with conveniences like temperature-adjustable floor console-mounted vents from the climate control system. The 60/40-split seat design (above) makes it easy to carry long objects inside the car while still offering room for passengers.
While the 180-mph speedometer seems a bit optimistic, Kia quotes a top track speed of 167 mph for the Stinger GT’s twin-turbo V6 and 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. While we didn’t have access to a track, our tester performed well in the daily stoplight grand prix along with easy merging and passing on the freeway.
With the Drive Mode knob on the center console, we could select Eco, Comfort, Sport, Smart, and Custom modes that adjust shift patterns and throttle mapping. Sport was our favorite (of course), yet for regular driving we used Comfort (Stinger also has an engine stop-start system to conserve fuel while waiting at traffic lights).
An easy to use 7-inch touchscreen display audio system is standard on the Stinger GT. It includes HD Radio®, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, 9 speakers, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, plus a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines that rotate with steering input.
SiriusXM® Data Services let us check things like the weather, including a five-day forecast, sports scores, stock prices, fuel prices and more. While Kia’s UVO eServices Telematics offers in-car connectivity and features including vehicle diagnostics, My Car Zone and a personal assistant.
In addition to looking good, Stinger’s styling is also functional thanks to the large hatch that opens to reveal a generous 23.3 cu. ft. of cargo space. There’s room for golf bags, luggage, or as we show in our walkaround video, items from our local membership store.
With a base price of $38,350, our Stinger GT added the Advanced Driver Assistance package and destination for a bottom line of $39,250. That’s a great value for all that this dynamic sportback has to offer. Stinger prices begin at $31,900 for the base 2.0-liter RWD turbo-4 model, and max out at $51,400 for the top-line GT2 with AWD.
We had a great week driving the Stinger GT. It delivers excellent performance, ride and handling, dynamic styling, high-tech features and attractive pricing. If we were in the market for a midsize performance sportback, we’d put the Kia Stinger GT at the top of our shopping list.
For more information on Stinger models in the U.S., visit Kia.com
Outside the U.S., visit Kia Worldwide and select your country.
Stinger GT press fleet vehicle provided by Kia Motors America, Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. market models at the time of publication. All product information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice.
Story, photos and videos © 2018 CarNichiWa.com