2018 Kia Stinger GT

Crouching Tiger

  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 02 Apr 2018

By James Park

   If you’re looking at someone like Kate Upshaw and she tells you her parents are Tie Domi and that girl from Ugly Betty (not that there’s anything wrong with them), you might suspect if she’s telling the truth.

   Take a gander at the all new Stinger and those who remember the not-so-eye-catching Kia products that came ashore during the early Nineties might say “yeah sure, and I have a Ferrari GTO in the garage.”

   But it’s true: the Stinger is one fine looking piece of metal and yes, it is a Kia.

   The driver in the car beside mine gestures for me to lower the passenger-side window. “Hey, that’s a great looking car. What the heck is it?”

   “Kia Stinger!”

   “Really?” He stares incredulously and almost bumps into the car in front.


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One of the best-looking and seriously capable automobiles to come out of Korea so far, the Stinger’s DNA includes not inconsiderable amount of German genes.


   By now, we all know Peter Schreyer – formerly of Audi, who penned the original TT – is the head of Hyundai/Kia’s overall design team. For the Stinger, Gregory Guillaume, snatched away from VW, is responsible for the styling and Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW’s ‘M’ Division, made sure the Stinger not only ‘talked the talk’, but also ‘walked the walk.’

   Sitting low to the ground, the car is at once aggressive and sophisticated. It crouches like a tiger and those two exhaust tips at either side of the rear bumper proclaim the car’s intention to kick butt.

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   The Stinger’s sloping side profile follows the trendy line of a ‘four-door coupe,’ which compromises the rear passenger headroom. However, the car’s hatchback design adds bit of practicality to the mix.

   Not only visually appealing, the Stinger also possesses ‘sting’ (sorry!) to back up its looks.

   The base model is motivated by two-litre turbo four that pumps out not insignificant 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic spinning the rear wheels. Yes, it is a RWD vehicle. (In Canada, only AWD is available at this time.)

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   Move up to the GT and you get to play with twin-turbo direct-injected 3.3 litre V6 able produce maximum 365 horses and 376 lb-ft of tire-chirping twist. You also get rear-biased AWD, which acts like a RWD most of time but sends appropriate amount of torque to the front as needed.

   The Stinger GT tester is satisfyingly quick off the line. The Car and Driver test puts the Stinger from 0-100 kph in around 4.7 seconds, which is very respectable. The same engine powers the Genesis G80 Sport which this writer drove last November. Stinger is about 1,000 pounds lighter than that car and it sure feels more agile and less cumbersome.

   You can play with five drive modes: Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom. Comfort is the default setting and in Custom, the driver can set the engine mapping, steering weight, suspension rigidity and such to his or her liking.

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In Comfort, the engine sound is underwhelming and the eight-speed tranny up-shifts quickly to save fuel. The car also utilizes auto start/stop function (you can switch if off) for this purpose. Rotate the dial to select Sport and the car takes on a different character. The engine sounds more urgent and the car becomes more responsive to the prodding of the go-pedal.

   This writer wishes for louder and more robust exhaust note, something akin to Jaguar F-Type V6. ‘Ordinary’ consumers may disagree.

   The car feels planted even at high speeds and exudes confidence through fast corners. At the same time, the firm suspension remains pliant enough not to upset the passengers too much. The leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel is nicely weighted but perhaps less communicative than say, Porsche Panamera.

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The Stinger aims high but as many auto journalists have already pointed out, it ultimately falls bit short of such rivals as the Audi A7 and Panamera in power, handling and that hard-to-translate measure of solidity. On the other hand, the Stinger is thousands of dollars less expensive than those cars.

   Not only the value, but consider also that Kia, for two years running, placed first in the J.D. Power Initial Quality survey. The Stinger deserves serious consideration for those interested in buying a stylish sporty sedan.

   As for the Stinger’s interior, it is clean, simple and tastefully designed. All the buttons and switches are intuitive. The touch screen atop the centre dash is relatively easy to operate and as well as navigation, provides connectivity to Apple Carplay or Android Auto. The Harman Kardon premium audio sounds fantastic and the overall fit and finish seems above average.

   From blind-side monitoring to collision mitigation, all the requisite electronic nannies are present and counted for. Better yet, one gets all these for less than 50,000 dollars – before taxes and other necessary and unnecessary gouging.

   The Stinger incorporates unique and appealing styling with more than adequate power and handling prowess. The relatively low price is icing on the cake. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)


2018 Kia Stinger GT

Price: $49,995

Engine: 3.3 litre twin-turbo V6

Power: 365 hp/376 lb-ft

Transmission: 8 spd auto

Drive: AWD

Fuel: 12.7 litres per 100km (city), 9.6 litres (highway)

Best: styling, power, value

Worst: deserves better engine sound

Competition: Genesis G70, Infiniti Q60, Acura TLX

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