By on November 17, 2017

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Anyone who likes to cook knows it’s rare to get a new dish right on the first try. It usually takes a few tweaks to reach perfection, no matter how good the base recipe is.

That’s the case with the much-hyped Kia Stinger. Kia has never built a grand-touring sports sedan before, so the brand was essentially starting from scratch. Which could explain why the Stinger, which we’ve been hearing about for what seems like an eternity now, is very good, but not as great as I’d hoped.

Full disclosure: Kia flew media out to North Hollywood, California and fed us several excellent meals while lodging us in a retro-themed luxury hotel. They gave us designer sunglasses, provided dinner entertainment, screenings of classic movies in a private theater, and hosted us in a room full of arcade video games, pinball machines, a pool table, and a skee-ball machine.

The Stinger is offered with two engines — a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 making 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Cars equipped with the latter engine are dubbed Stinger GTs. Both engines pair with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available.

It all makes for an interesting vehicle, one that was anticipated to satisfy sky-high expectations.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Let’s start with the good. Acceleration from the V6 is stout, providing grins whenever you goose the gas. The exhaust has a lovely baritone (yes, it is artificially augmented) that burbles forth and lets you know you aren’t driving an Optima. Passing punch is plentiful and the Stinger may be the first-ever Kia to become a law-enforcement magnet.

Ride quality is firm yet pleasant, even in Sport mode, which is the only mode you should use (I’ll get to that). Whether on the freeway or the back roads, the Stinger felt comfortable and composed.

This carries over to handling. The car feels planted and the steering properly weighted. Mid-corner corrections are easy, thanks to precise steering.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Handling is also where the bad news begins, however. The positive attributes are nearly cancelled out by copious body roll — too much for a car of this type and intent. Kia types tried to defend this trait by saying some version of “well, it’s a grand tourer,” but these are the same folks who suggested it might compete with some sporty German and Japanese iron, such as the Audi A5/S5 and BMW’s grand tourers.

This defense doesn’t totally ring hollow, at least not based on some competing cars on hand for comparison duty. But Kia didn’t once utter the words “Alfa Romeo” during the press brief, and almost every car mentioned either offers a sportier version that went unremarked upon or will not be cross-shopped against the Stinger. The Porsche Panamera, especially, is not a model shoppers will compare to the new Kia — the price gap alone is enough to drive a Ford Fusion through.

Regardless of comps, being a “grand tourer” doesn’t excuse the amount of body roll displayed by a car with sporting intent. The Stinger is supposed to be more than an attractive road-tripper, meaning Kia has some work to do here.

Kia has less work to do with the design — it’s a looker. The exterior shape is sleek and cleanly drawn, and the aviation-themed interior is pretty, too. Some of the aero bits aren’t just tacked on for looks, either – for example, the vents on the front fenders do send cooling air towards the brakes.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Well, mostly pretty. The cabin is marred by another one of those tacked-on infotainment screens (please, automakers, stop this) and there are a lot of buttons clustered together in various spaces. As far as materials go, most are class-appropriate, but cheaper plastic appears in some locales.

Kia took pains to point out that the Stinger has a longer wheelbase than the Audi A5 Sportback, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and GS, and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, which leads to a larger interior. There’s plenty of room up front and in the back – Kia got the part about grand tourers needing to haul four adults correct. The cargo area is also spacious, at 23.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 40.9 with the seats down.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Part of our day with the car included an untimed autocross. We were supposed to use this part of the afternoon to compare Stinger GTs with both drivetrains against an Audi A5 S Line, an Audi A7, a BMW 440i, a BMW 650i, an Infiniti Q50, a Lexus GS F Sport, and a Porsche Panamera.

Astute readers will note that the deck was slightly stacked in Kia’s favor – no Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoligo (or even Ti) in sight, no Audi S5, no M4 or M6 – you get the idea. Of course, most of those cars are pure performance vehicles while the versions on hand are meant as a balance between performance and daily driving – which goes to show that Kia probably sees the Stinger GT, at least as presently constructed, as something more than a pure performance vehicle.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I provide most of this for context, since Kia is likely to play up performance in its Stinger marketing.

Since the autocross was untimed, I set about driving like a jackass to get each vehicle to slide around a bit. Using terms like “at the limit” is a bit silly when referring to an autocross, but I nevertheless wanted to get a sense of how each car behaved when pushed a little too hard. The A5 and the Lexus were my favorites of the day, with the Stinger (and both drivetrains) finishing third in my mental rankings.

The rear-drive Stinger had a tendency to plow in corners before snapping around into a tail-happy slide, while the AWD car proved more stable under hard acceleration. I could distantly feel the torque-vectoring system working to bring the AWD car around – a feeling I was able to sort of detect even on public roads.

Kia bragged about the Stinger’s brakes, and with good reason – they’re fantastic. The automaker has introduced a system that is supposed to mitigate brake fade, but I can’t say for sure if either autocrossing or driving through the mountains produced enough hard braking to require the system’s intervention.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

On the road, perhaps the biggest flaw is something that’s also a strength – it often seemed too well-behaved to have an engaging personality. At times, I felt I was driving too slow, only to look down and see I was traveling or cornering at the appropriate speed – the Stinger’s quietness and mostly behaved (sans body roll) suspension sapped the drama, and perhaps some of the fun, out of the proceedings.

Kia gives you five drive modes to choose from (Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart, and Custom), and I found Sport to be the best for all situations, not just hard driving. Even on city streets and the freeway, it offers better steering and throttle responses than the slightly sloppy Comfort and Eco modes.

I did get a brief spin in the four-cylinder Stinger but, as my time was limited and I was navigating urban traffic, my stint wasn’t terribly instructive. I can say that the four has some guts, but how much I am not sure – the mix of traffic and pedestrians milling about kept me from misbehaving.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Based on an extremely small sample size, I suspect Kia will sell more four-cylinders than it planned. That’s because the car seems to have enough punch for around-town duty, and some buyers will simply not care about the V6’s power – they’ll want the looks at a cheaper price. This is how a Kia dealer will walk an Optima intender into a four-banger Stinger.

Stinger buyers get a choice of five trims – base, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. Since all V6s are GTs, that means the final three trims only apply to the V6. Every car on hand for driving was a top-trim GT2.

Available features across the various trims include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, head-up display, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, USB, Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats, cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, premium audio, UVO infotainment, rearview camera, and a host of driver aids (parking assist, forward-collision avoidance assist, front-collision warning, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, driver-attention warning, blind-spot collision warning with lane-change assist, rear cross-path detection, and smart cruise control). You can even have subwoofers under your butt.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Evaluating the overall package, it feels like Kia set out to build a pure sports sedan with a touch of luxury and ended up building a luxury sedan that’s pretty damn sporty.

Not just sporty, but relatively cheap. A base Stinger will set you back just $32,800, including the D and D fee. Stepping up to a GT requires $39,250, while a GT2 will cost you $50,100. All-wheel drive adds $2,200 across the board. So, a loaded Stinger with AWD is $52,300.

While this price range puts it on par (give or take options/trims) with the Infiniti, the Giulia Ti, the A5, and the GS F Sport (only if compared to the GT2, in the case of the Lexus), it also puts the top-end Stinger right around the price point of the 440i/440xi – and that’s before the BMW adds any options. The Stinger presents a value choice, depending on options, for those who aren’t wrapped up in brand identity. If you don’t need a BMW to feel good about yourself, the Stinger is a damn good alternative.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

What’s odd is that the Stinger’s competitive set isn’t clear cut. The Lexus and Infiniti are sedans, not hatches, for one. For another, the Audi and BMW might not be cross-shopped much against the Kia. The Chevy SS sedan is dead. That leaves the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300, which are muscle-car large sedans, not grand tourers, and the Giulia. Which puts the Stinger in a unique spot in the marketplace.

I am curious to see if a more “pure” performance level will emerge in a year or two, or if Hyundai/Kia will leave that to the upcoming Stinger-based Genesis G70. In the meantime, the Stinger is a solid first effort that needs a bit of tweaking to bring out its personality and reduce body roll in cornering.

The GT is the enthusiast’s choice, but even in four-cylinder guise the Stinger is a spacious, svelte grand-touring hatch that provides enough luxury and driving thrills to satisfy, even with some evident flaws. It needs work to be perfect, but the dish is still tasty.

[Images ©2017 Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]

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107 Comments on “2018 Kia Stinger Review – A Good Recipe in Need of Some Seasoning...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It will be interesting to see if this sells as anticipated, especially seeing the love being given full size sedans and hatchbacks.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      What’s the sales target? A thousand a year? They might be able to hit that.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I guess what I’m saying is: “What’s the business case for this?”

        “Because we can.”

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        My understanding is they are targeting cadenza-sized markets (around 6-8k a year).

        I think its possible to hit that.

        I’m actually worried they are expecting high sales volumes though. As much as I love this car, they won’t sell much more than that.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Australia (a much smaller market) is looking at 2.5-3k in sales for the Stinger in its full first year and that’s capped due to the lack of greater supply.

        And pretty much all of them (those that have been ordered) are for the GT.

        Think Kia would be pleased if the Stinger eventually did about 60% of what the 1G Genesis sedan was doing.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      Yea exterior looks nice, the dash plastic screams early 2000 GM to me. Can’t wait to start seeing them. Glad they offer AWD to, any info on how the awd system works on these?

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    Nice review, I’m going to see the Canadian variant here tomorrow (the GT2 I think, offered at C$40k and C$46k before tax), with my TDI money nearly in hand. I think we get much better pricing here north of 49.

    I’m cross-shopping it against a Golf R, Golf GTI, and….thats pretty much it at this point. With the better pricing here, and we shall see on lease rates, it could be my next. Many questions.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      Kia Canada says Stinger GT (base model probably not in Canada) starts at $44k. Stinger GT (NOT GT2 – doesn’t seem to be offered in Canada) $52k. They’re ALREADY putting $4-6k on the hood, before they even deliver them? Doesn’t seem quite right..

    • 0 avatar
      davewg

      Interesting to see that I’m not the only one that has the Stinger and the Golf R on his shopping list.

      I’m in the US, so the GT, at least in top trim, fetches far more than the Golf R albeit with additional options the R doesn’t have.

      I think the main point for me is a mid-trim GT for similar price (at MSRP) to the Golf R.

      The only thing that gives me pause with the VW is it’s smaller, less practical size for the occasional need to carry bigger things.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        It’s an interesting comparison for sure. Smaller hot hatch that’s _just_ big enough for actual adults in the back or the Stinger? Stock, straight line performance is nearly identical. The R will handle better and likely be more engaging to drive (MQB is an excellent platform even in lesser GTIs). The R will also retain it’s value quite well, but I’m extremely skeptical of resale value of any expensive Kia. Despite their huge improvements, it’s still not a sought after badge. An example to illustrate.

        2015 Kia K900 V8 with 25k miles (~60k MSRP): $28,998
        https://www.carmax.com/car/14633428

        2015 Golf R with 26k miles (~40k MSRP): $28,998
        https://www.carmax.com/car/14894180

        Wildly different cars but I think the point is still valid. ~50% depreciation vs. ~25%. Kia going upmarket is a tough row to hoe.

        • 0 avatar
          davewg

          That depreciation curve gives me pause too. The Stinger makes more sense as a lease, I think, depending on how they structure them.

          • 0 avatar
            TDIandThen....

            Agree with all of the above, particularly about lease structure and size questions.

            Went to the KIA dealer last night instead of today and here are some random impressions:
            • the dealership was a dump – a stereotype of a ‘buy now pay here’ place: florescent lighting, real accents, and bad coffee. Big contrast w VW dealers
            • saleskid was in his early 20s (!) and didn’t know a thing about the Stinger really – it was just listed on their Canadian sales intranet yesterday morning he said. Sorry, he said.
            • he doesn’t think they’ll have one to look at let alone test drive before January, and he had no info on lease or other structures. If I tried to put a deposit down (he actually asked me) we’d be talking late February delivery realistically according to him, though a showroom model should be there in about three or so weeks
            • he showed me the rest of the line and was honest. The Optima is their closest model and it is indeed massive – about twice as long as a Golf and the size is a no-go for city-living me. The Optima also had a driver visibility issue with a high beltline and big A pillars, to me
            • the woman working the front desk was disturbingly good looking even by Montreal standards. Now I’m haunted. Oh well.

            All in all the only answers I got were that as a Golf owner and city driver, the Stinger will be too big for me and not available quickly. Looking at the inside of the Optima, materials quality and probably transmission options will have to be a big step up for Stinger to be worth considering over a Golf R / DSG.

            For me personally, seeing the size in person was important. If I were in the burbs or had kids, probably Stinger-size is the right size.

            They have to get the Stinger out of the gross dealership. Maybe into the Genesis showroom as the lesser option everyone gets on their way to Genesis glory or something.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I would expect a hatchback (like the Golf) would have more capability to carry “bigger things” than a sedan – especially one that is not likely to have much height in the trunk. Am I missing something?

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Buyers will cross shop anything in their price range without limiting themselves to a narrowly defined segment. Narrowing the search is especially painful for the enthusiast, who given the funds would probably have a different car available for every conceivable task. Cars are tools, and you always want the best one for the task at hand!

          The Golf will do better with bulky cargo and will be easier to park on the street. The Stinger can take four people and their luggage, and should theoretically be a better highway car. There is price overlap and both vehicles offer features with enthusiast appeal, whether that is RWD for the Stinger or the transmissions available in the Golf R.

      • 0 avatar
        nzguy

        Hey me too, except golf r estate/wagon rather than the hatch. Both have solid performance, long distance comfort, and the ability to fit big stuff in the back when needed.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I think I’d be cross-shopping this against a Lexus IS350, and the KIA would lose on quality. It’s a nice car though, I love the design, it just needs to be $7,000 cheaper.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “It’s a grand tourer”.

    WTF does this even mean?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Grand tourers are supposed to be sporty four-seat, four-door luxury sedans with cargo space. The idea is for two couples to have a car that’s fun to drive but good for weekend road trips.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The quintessential GTs are mostly two door cars. F/R V12 Ferraris, Astons etc. Four doors like the Panamera, and likely Rapide, arguably also fit the bill, but are less pure, as they also function reasonably as town cars.

        Stability and composure at high speeds, enough power to make higher speeds effortless, yet responsible enough handling to not penalize choosing the scenic route over the freeway, is the main requirement. Along with big tanks for good range.

        • 0 avatar

          In that case, my Ford Fiesta is a Grand Tourer. :D

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I did Bozeman-LA on back roads in a FiST. Aside from having to let up and go into limp mode in a few spots due to too small a tank, it wasn’t bad :) Compared to a Panamera, and no doubt V12 Ferraris even more so, it never really feels all that settled, but still…..

            The thing about newer cars, is that virtually all of them do better in absolute terms, at almost anything, than what even their narrowly optimized predecessors did back in the day when terms like GT were coined, and still had practical meaning.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      It means it’s made for long distance cruising. Think SC430, minus the luxury. And the V8. And the good looks.

      You know what, just buy a used SC430 if you want a GT car folks.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Los Angeles to Bozeman in one day, with as little freeway as practically possible, and arriving at least semi fresh.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I consider my Aussie GTO to be a grand tourer. It’s fast, comfortable, and not a corner carver.

  • avatar
    ajla

    They should have made it a muscle car.

    I got to check one out a few weeks ago at the Kia dealer and there is almost certainly enough space under the hood for the 5.0L. The exterior looks cool and the paint was nice, but the Kia ‘luxury’ trimmings inside weren’t impressive and head room in the back wasn’t great. Plus, needing to spend SRT money to get a limited slip is annoying.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Perhaps a muscle-car trim is on the way? Or perhaps that 5.0 gets saved for the Genesis version?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Considering how hard Kia pushed the “GRAND TOURING” aspect of the Stinger and how much H/K/G is favoring the 3.3T over the 5.0L I’ll be surprised if they do a low-brow performance Stinger or offer a V8 on either one.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      What color? Gravity Blue shows a ton of orange peel; it’s the only aspect of my Cadenza I’ve found offensively cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The one I saw was purple. I think Kia calls it ‘Sangria’.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          Gotcha, thanks. I hope that’s a sign Kia is improving paint quality overall.

          As for the luxury trappings, the interior looks very similar to what’s in my car, which seems perfectly inline with other offerings at the $40K-$50K price point.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            It was more Optima than Cadenza. I definitely thought the interior quality and material choice was a step below their targeted cars or what you get in a Genesis.

            It isn’t disgusting or anything, but I don’t think it will impress someone leasing an A5 or C300.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Supposedly Kia is testing a Stinger prototype with the Tau V8 under the hood, but who knows if it’ll ever reach market?

      Regardless, Kia should make a more hardcore version of the GT with the V6.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I’d absolutely be cross shopping this with pre-owned A7/S7s.

    Also, you can get a 2014 BMW 760LI twin-turbo V12 for less than $40K….and a 5-series for even less.

  • avatar
    John R

    Good for Kia. I had hopes this was going to be half-decent.

    I don’t know if the Germans have anything to worry about, but the Japanese probably do. Perhaps Acura the most.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    In the fun to drive department $40k gets you a 470hp Charger Scat Pack. Also if Kia had to ape an interior design, why did they ape Mercedes’s “lets glue an ipad to the dash” look?

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      The Stringer almost certainly offers vastly better quality and livability. I don’t find it much fun to drive a car that’s falling apart around me, even if it does have 470 horsepower.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      It is actually 485hp now. The Charger Scat Pack would be the best car in the world if it was built by not FCA.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Ugg Dang it FCA. Get your act together – I even live in an area where the FCA dealer is highly regarded, but that’s like being the nicest most helpful GM dealer circa 1984.

      • 0 avatar
        Hemi

        Eh daily drive mine and pretty hard, 2016 with almost 30k now and 0 problems. Still turns heads and I find no fault with interior.

        Recently drove some newer 17 and up E and c class, nice interiors, slow and choppy shifts.

        I’d only get rid of mine to get a Hellcat, but feel I would lose my license.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      They aped the rims and front fenders from the Holden Commodore HSV (circa 2009-2011)

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, pretty much every luxury (and many mainstream) auto-makers use the “tablet” form-factor as it allows for a lower dash.

      Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti all do it on certain models.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        It also puts it up high were you can see it easily. As long as it literally doesn’t look tacked on ala the cheaper MBs, I am OK with it. This one looks like the small-screen iDrive in BMWs. It would look better if it was lower and wider.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” The cabin is marred by another one of those tacked-on infotainment screens (please, automakers, stop this) ”

    +1. Please oh please, all car reviewers, please use words like this until automakers are forced to listen and put an end to this. Its like a disease.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I agree it looks horrible, but doesn’t having the screen near windshield level make it easier to keep your eyes on the road? Just curious if anyone who has a similar set up wants to chime in.

      • 0 avatar
        flatdarkmars

        I have a screen like that in my 2014 Mazda 3. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I would like it. But having lived with it for almost 4 years, I’m sold on it now. It does keep the screen up closer to your line of sight, while allowing the dash to remain low. This combines great outward visibility with ease of use for the display.

        When the time comes to shop for my next car, a similar display would be a point in favor of whatever cars have it.

        The specific screen on this Kia, however, doesn’t really seem well-integrated into the visual design of the cabin.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yes, I much prefer the screen up high if there must be one, without the cliff-face dash that results if the whole dash needs to be that high. Compare an e9x 3-series BMW with iDrive to an f3x 3-series for a perfect example. The nasty old double-hump dash is far more egregious than having the screen stick up from the middle.

        All I ask is make it easy to turn off when I don’t need it at night. Completely off.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t mind them as long as they’re well executed. The C-class and A4 (and even the Mazda 3) come to mind.

      But, yeah, this one looks cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        tnk479

        The A4’s screen looks odd tacked on as an afterthought. The C-class is even worse. I test drove an A4 without the Nav & Telematics package (aka, the tech garbage you will never use) and it has a slightly smaller screen and that looks a bit better. Good luck finding a Premium Plus without the Nav & Telematics package though. They are out there but its like less than 5% of the dealer ordered cars.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelovescars

      The smoothly integrated screen is one of my favorite design details in my Alfa Giulia. These tacked on screens are a cheap way to mimic screens on top end models that could rise and retract. They will look dated in a few years… like a cell phone in a 1980’s BMW.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Sounds like the base GT model (versus this loaded-up one) is the sweet spot in this line. $40,000 for this kind of performance is one helluva bargain.

    By the way, Tim…did they have Galaga in the arcade?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      They did! I made it to a mediocre Stage 8

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I think the 2.0T Premium is the sweet spot… that’s a lot of luxury options in a nice package for $37k. You realize an Optima/Sonata costs about the same loaded up?

      I thought the Sonata was a good bargain at 36k, so 1k more for this RWD platform and packaging sounds like a steal no matter how I slice it.

      The 2.0T is plenty of performance and power for fun DD driving, and the V6 really only shines at higher RPMs that no normal person will ever see driving to work.

      To me the GT is expensive (40k) for driving around in a high power budget car. A v8 mustang is only $35k…. The Taurus SHO is only 42k and has the same power but more options if you need room for adults behind you… It only becomes a good price when you layer in options, AWD, and the warranty…

      • 0 avatar
        tnk479

        Yeah, but, we might be able to negotiate F-150 like discounts off of their totally unrealistic MSRP, right? I bet a loaded Stinger GT2 at 50k MSRP will sell for 40k. How many Kia shoppers can afford a 40 or 50k car? Practically none.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        I wouldn’t call $37k for non-premium marque 4 cylinder a bargain, even well optioned. But then I wouldn’t use that term for a 4 cylinder Sonata at $36k either. Grabbing a SS at $39k and change, now *that* is an applicable use of the word. You can get into the 3.0T V6 Q50s for $39k. The sweet spot for this thing is probably the base 2.0T. With good standard equipment, a $32k sticker, and real world transaction prices below that, I think it’s a contender. GTs will have to be heavily discounted to move metal.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This car looks better to me in person than in photos, but I still think it’s overdone.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I guess I’m one of the few who have zero problems with the screen sitting high up on the dash. Leaves more room for storage and buttons.

  • avatar
    bking12762

    That is one good lookin’ Optima…

  • avatar
    arach

    I’m pretty dead set on buying one of these…

    I wanted a Chevy SS, but couldn’t justify 13 MPG when I spend 95% of the cars life on cruise control on the highway. I thought about buying a Panamera, but last year even high mileage ones were over 40k, and cost to drive a mile is very very high.

    So I settled for a Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited. I LOVE the car, and love the engine. Just don’t like it being FWD, and hate the bland color options. It has great torque and power for DD and is fun enough to drive (I still have hardcore sports cars for the weekends..) I do think its the best DD engine I’ve ever experienced (32 MPG and 250 lb-ft torque? yes thank you)

    So the Stinger is coming out. I’m excited about getting a RWD Sonata in a flashy color…

    Ka-Pow!

    Side note, the 2.0T Sonata Limited was 36k. The Premium is $37,100.

    So for $1k more you get RWD and most of the same options?

    I’m down with that.

    One thing I can’t tell though is that the 2.0T and the V6 have only one difference in the driver assistance package… the V6 has ” with Lane Change Assist”. Does that mean it will change lanes automatically? or what?

    Both have “Blind spot collision Warning”

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Make that a “RWD Optima.”

      As for pricing, a Ford Fusion Platinum AWD with destination just about hits the $40k mark.

      If Ford ever sold the Fusion Vignale here, would be over the $40k mark.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Tim, we have had similar comments regarding the Stinger’s handling and suspension setting by motoring journo’s here in Australia.

    I do like the vehicle very much and I’m particularly fond of the AWD V6 GT2.

    I do believe Kia has shown itself as a potential and threatening performance vehicle manufacturer. I just hope this isn’t a one off vehicle.

    All, the Korean’s need to do now is build a capable pickup and decent SUV with 4hi and 4lo.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Would.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I like the liftback, the rear 3/4 view, the potent turbo six and the addition of a budget RWD sports sedan in the marketplace. Good for Kia.

    However, the front is godawful ugly and the dashboard is rather derivative of the C300. An iPad screen hovering above a trio of circular air vents with two horizontal arrays of climate and audio buttons beneath? Haven’t seen that much blatant copying since the refreshed Optima and 2018 Accord xeroxed the 2014 and 2016 Mazda6 dashboards, respectively.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So basically Kia built an updated Pontiac G8 with optional AWD that weighs about 180 pounds less. G8 wheelbase was 114.8, Stinger is 114.4. G8 was 6″ longer with a bigger rear seating area.

    Stinger Turbo 4: 255 HP/260 TQ (premium fuel)
    G8 3.6L V6: 256 HP/258 TQ (regular fuel)

    Stinger Turbo 6: 365 HP/376 TQ (premium fuel)
    G8 GT 6.0L V6: 364 HP/384 TQ (regular fuel) – late production G8 GT was 355 HP due to larger cats

    Stinger Track: F62.7/R63.7 (19″ wheels)
    G8 GT: F62.8/R63.3 (19″ wheels)

    Stringer Suspension: MacPherson Strut/Multi-link
    G8 Suspension: MacPherson Strut/Multi-link

  • avatar

    Upon purchase, first job is getting that incredibly low-rent Kia badge off the front and rear.

  • avatar
    Gene B

    No stick shift = boring = no sale. My 2015 Honda Accord LX manual is more fun to drive than this on any day of the week.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    love the name. Not Optima or a Cabeza or a K1000. It’s a STINGER.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’m skeptical of reviews that use body roll to judge performance credentials. More detail required.

    If Kia stiffened the springs and used larger anti-roll bars, you would probably complain that it was too stiff for GT duty and skips all over the pavement like a stone. Provided it is controlled and predictable, body roll is not a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Fair point. In this case, it was enough to sort of sap confidence a bit. I understand that if they’d gone too stiff that would turn off grand-touring buyers, but there is room for tightening without getting to that point.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The body roll is only evident on hard-turns such as on a circuit.

      The reviews on “normal roads” say that the Stinger stays pretty flat around the bends.

      Some body-roll at harder turns is inevitable due to the weight of the Stinger, in addition to the suspension tuning.

      For those wanting a more “flat” experience on the track/circuit, the Genesis G70 would be more the ticket.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I don’t see how running it against a Panamera, A7, A5 S, and a 440 is stacking the deck. The Alfa and its sketchy build quality is not going to change the comparison. Kia wants to measure against the segment leaders in sales, which the Alfa is definitely not. The A7 and Panamera illustrate the Kia’s value proposition.

    Speaking of competition, I think the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger qualify. The Challenger is especially close to the spirit of a GT car.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      To me, it’s giving the Kia an advantage as it will cost less than any of those vehicles and handle close to as well if not better. Now, to be fair, all the hi-po versions of those cars will be out of the price range of the Stinger. So I do see your point. I suspect the Giulia Ti would mop up the autocross with all those cars, but you’re right about Alfa’s suspect reliability record.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Good looking car, but I agree with others that the Kia badge is unfortunately executed. I think I would remove all the badges.

    The interior is OK, but I’m not a fan of the light gray infotainment buttons. I think matching the black of the climate controls would be better.

    I’m glad they put some work in making it sound good, cheating or not.

  • avatar
    Luis Gonzales

    You’re going to get hosed if you buy this thing new. I’d rather get one used off lease than to flirt with this pretentious Kia as new.

  • avatar
    EX35

    When one can pickup a 6-speed GT Premium for $30K or a Camaro 2SS for $35K, why buy this? I guess the only reason being a usable backseat.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Stinger can substitute as a wagon/smaller crossover with the rear seats folded flat, a much nicer interior than the Camaro and doesn’t hurt that it can beat the Mustang GT in the quarter mile.

      Alex Dykes really likes the Stinger GT and is thinking about getting one.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        No doubt the GT Stinger is fast, but I can’t help but think of better alternatives once the price creeps past $50 large. A quick check around me on cars.com yields some interesting options. Leftover GT350s for $54K; Camaro ZL1s for $57K. Hell, a base ’17 Corvette can be had for $42K! I know, not really comparable as no back seat, but I can’t imagine a scenario (other than wanting a usable back seat) where I would choose the KIA over the Vette, GT350, or ZL1. Hell, a Caddy ATS-V can be had for about 50K and that’s a hell of a car.

        It may be the fact that Korean cars have left a bad taste in my mouth. I had an awful experience with an Elantra years back, which included possibly the worst excuse for dealer service I’ve ever experienced.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          The GT350, ZL1, and Corvette are considerably more performance focused. And by that I mean less comfortable in daily driving. If performance is your goal, those are definitely better bets, especially when you account for depreciation.

          I think the Stinger is going to have to sell strictly on merit; at least at msrp it doesn’t seem to carry the discount people expect from the brand. Cheaper than competing Germans, but it might be obvious where the money goes. More expensive than muscle cars, but is the interior really worth the extra?

          To me it isn’t obviously overpriced, nor does it scream great deal. The KIA dealership experience sounds like a problem. It’s an interesting option that will probably sell with significant cash on the hood. KIA will have to commit to cars like this for a long time before buyers accept prices in the invoice-to-msrp area.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            Good point. I also forgot to mention the Q50 Red Sport 400. I saw one at my local dealer listed for $43K which seems like a decent bargain for a 4.5 second car with a solid dealer experience.

  • avatar

    It’s a damn good-looking car, i have driven that car and it is really, really good.
    —————–
    https://www.motor1.ae/

  • avatar
    MarkyMark

    Tim – I was able to test drive a 2.0L Premium trim Stinger this past Thursday (I’m in Portland, OR so perhaps we are getting them sooner than other parts of the country?).

    I currently own a Mazda 6 Touring. I drive about 24k a year, as I am in engineering sales, so Seattle, Portland, eastern Washington or southern Oregon, I’m there.

    A 4-door sedan that gets good milage, yet is’t an Econo-compact sedan that doesn’t show well to the companies I represent, nor too “look at me” actually can mean a lot.

    I like sporty, but I’m not buying a luxury car nor dealing with their repair costs, etc… I told myself I’ve never buy a car over $30k and so far I’m managed that. For how much longer, who knows, but the base Kia Stinger might be my next car.

    I think you nailed it in saying Kia may sell a lot more 2.0l Stingers than Kia thinks. I feared the 2.0L would seem heavy, large and not nearly the fun nimble car my Mazda6 gives me (until pushed – lot of yaw roll over the font axel for sure!). So, what did it do?

    1. The Stinger did not feel heavy. Solid? Yes. Sturdy? Yes. But not heavy or in need of a diet.
    2. Handling and the different modes were a hoot! Indeed, the Sport mode, or building a custom mode is where I’ll live 90% of the time. Corning made my Mazda 6 feel like a slosh bucket, tipping this way and that.
    3. Power. The Mazda 6 feels spry and lively out of the gate, but the 2.0L Stinger, after a slight wait, pedal down and the turbo knows to kick and and there is a surprising amount of off-the-line power.

    Granted, I’m comparing the Stinger’s characteristics to my current car, the Mazda benchmark, but it’s what I own today.

    Kia may be pulling a lot of mid-to-higher-end mid-sized sedan buyers north.

    Lastly, I was very interested in the new Buick Regal Sportback, but that was months ago, before I started investing the Stinger. Basically, if I wanted a version of a Malibu, with bad leather, and lots of plastic, and so-so driving characteristics, I’d buy a high-end Malibu.

    The Buick Regal is the kind of car this “tweeter” market seems to have produced for a long, long, time. A tweaked mid-side sedan of some sort, with souped up specs here or there. AKA Buick.

    But Kia seemed to be truly focused on brining a vehicle into that space, with the fun of driving and great looks inside and out, to provide true value in the mid-$30k range.

    I’m impressed. Bravo Kia.

  • avatar
    jplew138

    Drive one of these a couple of days ago, loaded four-cylinder 2WD. Verdict? Unless you just WANT to see a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz emblem on your hood, I’d buy the Kia and pocket the $20,000 or so I saved and put it to good use somewhere else. It’s that damn good.


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