By on August 12, 2020


Everyone’s favorite rear-drive South Korean liftback sedan, the Kia Stinger stands to gain a refresh for the coming year. Appearing in its home market Wednesday, the ’21 Stinger aims for added aggression, but Kia didn’t lose its mind applying this facelift.

Details on powertrain alterations, if there are any (there might be!) are off the table for now, but the rest we can see with our own eyes.

For ’21, the Stinger sees new headlamps in the multifaceted reflector LED style, plus new running lights. Those headlamps, when not illuminated, appear darker and more slimming. Changed are afoot out back, too, with redesigned lights now spanning the width of the car. Don’t worry, there’s gimmicks to be had.


“The new turn signals comprise a collection of 10 individual LED units each, arranged in a grid pattern to mimic the appearance of a checkered flag, used in motorsport to signal the end of a race,” Kia stated.

Buyers of V6-powered Stingers gain the option of bumping up the size of their shiny exhaust tips, which will be surrounded by a meaner-looking diffuser. Some markets, probably North America will see a “Dark Package” that applies a coat of gloss black over the two aforementioned features. Our market will get a “Black Package” that adds further customization, Kia confirms.

Going Black means appropriately inky mirror caps, side trim, and lightweight 19-inchers in a matte finish, plus something Stinger buyers apparently want: a rear wing. Hey, if Toyota’s putting them on TRD Camrys, you should be allowed to get one on your Stinger.


Inside, there’s less change to be had. New color combinations greet buyers, with three choices of Nappa leather on offer (beige, black, and red), as well as black suede with red stitching. An upgraded 10.25-inch infotainment screen appears, plus ambient mood lighting. If 64 colors aren’t enough, you’re too picky a customer.

As previously stated, other market-specific changes will be announced at a later date. Will the Stinger swap its base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder for Hyundai Group’s new 2.5-liter? Is the 3.3-liter canned in favor of the new 3.5-liter? Time will tell if the powerplants appearing in new Genesis products show up here, though the first possibility seems like the best bet.

A niche model for Kia, the Stinger occupies an endangered segment, so sustaining buyer interest is key. Boosted standard horsepower would serve the model well. Interestingly, U.S. Stinger sales rose 31 percent, year over year, in July. Despite the pandemic and springtime lockdown, sales of the model are down only 3 percent on a year-to-date basis.



[Images: Kia Motors]

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18 Comments on “Fresh Venom? Updated Kia Stinger Debuts Overseas...”

  • avatar

    Changes seem fine. BETTER BRAKES and an output of 400/400 would be most optimal.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe more than 400/400. It is less about the specific output and more about getting closer to matching the M340i. I think that’s the acceleration benchmark for an ICE in this class.

      Right now the BMW is a notrivial amount quicker than the G70 V6 and the Stinger is a tenth or two behind the Genesis.

      0-60 in 4 flat, 0-100 in under 10, quarter mile in under 12.5. That would be solid Kia.

    • 0 avatar

      If they haven’t done so already, should equip USDM Stingers with the Euro-spec brakes which are superior.

      No upgrade from the 3.3TT V6 as of yet, but should eventually get the higher output version of the 3.5TT (around 420 hp) that will be 1st used in the upcoming G80 Sport.

      • 0 avatar

        I had to get my pads/rotors replaced under warranty. From what I can tell I got the same pads as original. I have the “Euro-spec” part number to eventually replace them if needed, but yea they need to just make the Euro-stuff factory standard and let us owners deal with the dust.

        420hp and better brakes would be very promising.

  • avatar

    Given the limited styling updates, it seems unlikely we’ll see any changes under the hood. I hope I’m wrong, because the 2.5T could hit the sweet spot for a lot of shoppers. Either way, I predict this car will be gone from the US market within three years. If Genesis brings us the G70 wagon, I won’t feel too bad if the Stinger gets the ax. Alas, that’s unlikely as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I have read in some foreign blogs that its the 2.5. I for one think the stinger serves a purpose and that it wont go away in 3 years. The K7 and K9 will go before this will.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d actually be interested in the 2.5 in both the Stinger and the G70. I’d take the RWD version for the light weight, better weight balance, and hopefully a mechanically limited slip. Good rotation in that package.

        Chocolatedeath has a point about the K9. That thing has only sold a couple of hundred copies A YEAR since it was introduced and it got a 2nd generation. Mind you the option choices were simplified for that 2nd gen but it still got another chance.

    • 0 avatar

      We are getting the new 2.5T as the base engine; not all markets will be getting the upgrade.

      And should eventually see the higher out variant of the 3.5TT in the Stinger.

      The images shown do not reflect the changes to the headlamps/DRLs – which are a step back imo.

      And according to reports, we will not be getting the diamond quilted seats.

      As for the K9/K900, it sells far better than the Stinger in Korea (and with a higher margin) and there’s cost savings with it using the same platform as the G90.

  • avatar

    Checkered race flag rear signals – the Stinger truly is the modern-day Pontiac Grand Prix.

    The interior could use some upgrading. I had a Stinger as an Uber (pre-Covid); the driver had just bought it that week. The interior was fine, a bit plasticky. (Again, modern-day Pontiac.)

    Of note: The driver originally was going to buy an Optima but got upsold (?) into Stinger. He had no idea one was front-drive and one was rear-drive…all he knew is that the “Stinger is sportier.” (Again, modern-day Pontiac.)

  • avatar

    Kia deserves a round of applause for competing in the performance/hatchback sedan category.
    Buick Regal GS, “What could have been?”

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