No, the 2018 Kia Stinger isn’t your typical sports sedan. It’s not like a BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz. But a smart sport sedan buyer will say “so what?’ After all, the newly-arrived Stinger has a striking show car design from Audi’s former top designer, and a chassis from an outstanding former BMW engineer. Even the four (count them) beautifully integrated exhaust outlets look sexy.
The Stinger comes in ten different price levels that range from $31,900 to $51,400 (plus a $900 freight charge). They start with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The base engine churns out 255 horsepower. The more powerful 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6, on the other hand, makes 365 horsepower. Both engine options are available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy of the 255 horsepower engine is an estimated 22 mpg city and 29 highway (21 and 29 with AWD). The twin-turbo V-6 provides 19 mpg city and 25 highway. The fuel tank holds 15.9 gallons, and premium fuel is required for all engines.
I tested the $51,400 GT2 AWD model, and it looked and drove like Kia could get away with charging another $10,000 or so for it without complaints. That is, if it had a more prestigious nameplate. With 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, you wouldn’t expect it to be slow.
I felt that the car’s torque easily matched that of a potent V-8. Passing on highways and merging into fast traffic seemed effortless, and the acceleration never really let up. Kia says the Stinger can hit 167 mph, and it drives like it can. The exhaust roar when accelerating hard should satisfy car buffs. However, you can enhance (or turn off) the engine noise through a menu in the car’s infotainment system.
Do we have overkill here, though? For example, are five drive modes: Eco, Smart, Comfort, Sport and Custom really necessary? I found Comfort to be the best for everyday driving, but Sport would be the most useful on a track, although this is no track car. Not that it would do all that badly on one, but this is a very fast road car. Keeping it safe at high speeds are an electronically-controlled suspension, Brembo performance brakes and Kia’s dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive system.
The steering is quick but on the firm side, and the brake pedal has a rather long, soft progressive throw. The ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortable, although some may feel it’s too stiff. Even turning a console dial to get Sport mode doesn’t make the ride uncomfortable, although that mode tightens things up a bit.
Comfort and Convenience
Even with a healthy dose of performance, it’s a practical mid-size four-door hatchback with a 114.4-inch wheelbase. It’s long at 190.2 inches and 73.6 inches wide. The cargo area is large at 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space and is easily reached by a large power hatch with a low, wide opening. Rear seatbacks flip forward for more cargo room. There’s decent room for four tall adults, although a tall driver who shoves his seat back will made a 6-footer with long legs wish for a little more foot room.
The front doors have large, easily gripped handles, but swing open wide, calling for a long reach to close them. And a wide sill and low seats call for occupants to sort of plop into the car instead of easily sliding into it. A low, long sloping front end that contributes to the Stinger’s sensational looks makes it hard to place the car. And a high belt line can make shorter rear occupants feel somewhat buried.
Once inside the quiet, upscale interior, you can quickly read the gauges, even in bright sunlight. Controls can be quickly reached and are clearly laid out. However, the easily worked touchscreen calls for a long reach for a driver with shorter arms. The dashboard layout, with such things as its HVAC vents, did remind me of a modern Mercedes-Benz.
The intelligently-designed interior has Nappa leather trim, dual zone automatic climate control, power front seats, power tilt/telescopic wheel, Harman Kardon premium audio, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen and a power sunroof.
For safety’s sake, there’s a heads-up display, rear camera, forward collision avoidance and warning system, smart cruise control with stop and go, lane keep and departure warning system, driver attention warning, blind spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning. Large twin outside power mirrors with turn signals fold against the side glass when the car is shut off avoid parking lot damage.
The Kia Stinger will likely lose out to many who are buying the Audi, BMW or Mercedes, at least when it comes to brand power. However, the Kia Stinger GT2 AWD provides nearly everything a rival Audi, BMW or Mercedes offers for less money. It also looks racier, to boot. The rub for status seekers is that it has the Kia nameplate.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Kia Stinger
|Price as Tested:||$51,400|
|Engine:||3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6|
|Drivetrain (Layout):||Front engine, all-wheel drive|
|Horsepower:||365 hp @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque:||376 lb-ft @ 1,300 – 4,500 RPM|
|Brakes:||Front: 13.8-inch Brembo vented front discs
Rear: 13.4-inch Brembo vented rear discs
|Tires:||Front: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 P225/40 R19
Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 P255/35 R19
|Fuel capacity:||15.9 gallons|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined mpg|
|Curb Weight:||4,023 pounds|