Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Kia Stinger
By Zlatan Stankovic on December 13, 2017
While some regard Kia to be of a similar quality to BMW, Audi, and perhaps even Porsche, others believe they have been falling a little short for many years. With the release of the 2018 Stinger, we think it might just bring an end to this argument because it’s incredibly impressive.
For the most part, Kia is known for their great cars but they always struggled to make that final jump to compete with the big players. In 2009, however, we saw the start of what would become a transition period with the Soul hatchback. In the eight/nine years since then, their releases have been likeable and customers have been agreeing with experts as to the rise of the manufacturer. In fact, they actually sit atop the JD Power quality rankings which is a huge achievement.
However, even Kia has admitted themselves that the models always seem to come with stigma; reviews seem to qualify comments by saying their vehicles are good ‘for a Kia’. As we welcome the Stinger, we want to put away this phrase for good and it’s been a long time coming. After first announcing the GT concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, it received an amazing response and people have been talking ever since. Now, the biturbocharged V6 engine contained within this rear-wheel drive vehicle is set for release.
Compared to the GT concept nearly seven years ago, the design is very similar and this isn't a surprise considering the praise it received. If anything, it looks even better because it grabs the attention regardless of colour or the environment surrounding it. Of course, there’s always bits we don’t quite like and this is found with the red reflector trim but we know that thousands will buy the Kia Stinger for the design alone and we don’t blame them.
When looking at the pictures, it’s hard to gauge just how big it is. In terms of dimensions, it fits in with the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A7, and Porsche Panamera. With this in mind, four adults will fit comfortably or two adults can enjoy nearly 41 cubic feet of space after folding down the rear seats. If you think we’re comparing Kia and BMW, Audi, and Porsche on design alone, you’re mistaken because the engineering is something to behold too.
When buying, consumers will have a choice between two engines but we’re going to focus on the 3.3-liter biturbo V6 since this is the one with the impressive numbers; the other engine will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. If you choose the former, you’ll enjoy 376 lb-ft of torque and 365 horsepower which is a strong development from Kia.
In case you were unaware, a former BMW M engineer, Albert Biermann, now works with Kia and his task has been to provide the Stinger with a boost from an engineering perspective. By the looks of the rear-wheel drive vehicle in action, Biermann has done his job well. Through the corners, it teases with a little understeer and it stays flat to the road when gathering speed on the straights. With four Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, their extreme grip allows for a little experimentation with the pedals and this is always a good thing. Although there will be an option for all-wheel drive, we actually believe rear-wheel to be the best option as it gives the driver a little more freedom.
After taking the Stinger off-road across a motocross circuit, we started to ask more and more questions of the model and the suspension eventually had a reply. With the Audi A7, this offers more composure through the tight turns as the Stinger was chattering away. However, we know that some will enjoy that feedback from the Kia and it almost gives a sense of extra speed because we were pushing it to the limits.
Next up, steering has been a troublesome area for Kia through the years in addition to causing sleepless nights at the parent company of Hyundai. While in the default setting, we didn't feel a false sense of weight or an on-center dead spot so it was an improvement overall. However, we did experience an age-old problem after putting the driving mode into ‘Sport’ because the car suddenly started to repel whatever we were suggesting. Even with the ‘Eco’ mode, we felt it went too far the other way so this might be an issue for you.
If we were to provide advice, it would be to use the ‘Smart’ mode for most occasions and this could be a solution that minimizes the annoyance of Sport and Eco modes. Over time, the Kia will learn your driving style and adapt accordingly. If you happen to go off-road, Sport mode isn't advised but the standard setup when you start the engine should actually work well. As we know, Sport mode adds new throttle mapping, the gears shift at different points, and the steering weight changes slightly. Unfortunately, all three of these features are lost on the Stinger so Smart mode is what we prefer.
Coming back to the engine, it’s a fantastic V6 and the power seems to reach the tires almost instantly. With an eight-speed automatic transmission, the shifts are extremely fast and precise. According to Kia, we should be looking for a time of around 4.7 seconds (0-60mph) for the Stinger GT but we could actually see this time reduce somewhat during independent testing. During our own driving experience, we felt the brilliant traction get to work so we don’t have any fears regarding acceleration. As the car makes the initial jump forward, the V6 makes plenty of noise but many have been disappointed by the lack of sound from the back. Compared to the design and chassis, we were expecting a little more but we’re really picking holes at this point since it doesn’t affect performance in any way.
As we sat behind the wheel, the visibility looking ahead was actually very good and you get a stunning view right down the hood. For some, they had trouble with the headrest and sight lines looking back but this could just be a case of experimenting with the car and getting the seat into the right position. In terms of the interior, the leathers and plastics create a nice feel. If you break it down into sections, you could actually pinpoint the familiarity of the vehicle because the font and styling comes from all other Kia models, the Uvo 3 infotainment system offers standard graphics and colours, and the metal buttons within the center stack originated with Genesis (the sister company).
With the infotainment system, it is simple while offering plenty of features and this is a great tact from Kia because it means that both beginners and experts will get on with the system just fine. Although you might say the touchscreen is a little small, it does the job and will help to improve the driving experience. Meanwhile, the gauge cluster also has a familiar feel to it and it follows the path of the Optima.
After looking at the outside, which is clearly the selling point with this model, it’s a shame to see that Kia didn't add any unique features or any little design nuances inside just so it becomes instantly recognizable as the new Stinger. This being said, it’s quiet, it’s comfortable, and we would have been more than happy with this in years gone by.
Overall Assessment - With all the basics covered, we’re left having to decide upon an overall assessment. The fact that our complaints were limited to the headrest, graphics on the infotainment system, and the noise it makes is probably the biggest compliment we could pay to Kia. With this vehicle, you would be investing in a model that is batting above its average if we were to borrow a baseball phrase. Since it excels past most within the same price range, we really need to compare the Stinger to models in higher price brackets and this is another testament to Kia’s work in recent years.
If we were to give you a couple of seconds to guess a price range, we don’t think you would be as low as the real price which will start at…$31,900. Of course, this will be the base model and the 2.0-liter rear-wheel drive design. If you want the more powerful engine with the features and speed we’ve been discussing today, you’ll need to pay closer to $40,000. For the most part, these are the two main models on offer but we should also discuss one more option if you’re looking to invest a little more money.
For just over $52,000, you can be the brand-new owner of the all-wheel drive model which is set to be named GT2. If we look at the Audi A7 as a reference point, this model is worth $70,000 and even the S5 Sportback is more expensive than the $52,000 fully-loaded version of the Kia Stinger so this really shows the difference. Moving away from Audi, all of the Stinger’s competitors are more expensive regardless of engine or trim. As we said earlier, the model isn't just ‘good for Kia’ either because it stands on its own two feet. If BMW or Audi put their name to this model, the market would go crazy and this is why we’re standing in the corner of Kia for this one.
In terms of customers, everybody knows that BMW, Audi, and Porsche customers are loyal and won’t ever change their minds. Just like customers choosing between iPhone and Android, PlayStation and Xbox, or even whether pineapple should go onto a pizza, their minds have been made up for the years ahead. However, there are many thousands of customers who are willing to give their loyalty to a manufacturer so long as the company takes their interest. For example, we’re looking towards owners of the Volvo S60, Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac CTS, and the Lincoln MKZ. If these owners catch sight of the Kia Stinger GT, we could just see the model excel after release next year.
Recently, we saw a comment regarding the Genesis G70 and how it will compete with the Kia Stinger but we believe the latter has everything the former can offer but with a stunning exterior. As for now, all we can do is predict the future (but we’re hoping Kia sees some success with the Stinger because it has been a long time coming and the final product deserves attention!).