SEATTLE, May 7, 2018 — “Dude, I can’t believe that’s a KIA!” – an all too common exclamation you’ll hear when driving most of today’s KIA lineup, most notably about its Stinger. The Stinger is KIA’s foray into the sports sedan market and to say they nailed it would be to understand things. There are so many things right with this car that it can be difficult to remain objective and find fault with it as well.
With the 2018 Stinger GT, KIA proves that it can build a world-class grand touring sedan that can take on the best from Germany which normally cost nearly double.
As you can see in the photos, the Stinger GT has exterior body design cues that go on for days and looks stellar from any angle. Outside of the faux hood vents and odd rear tail light reflector that wraps around to the quarter panel, it’s a sporty, masculine look. The side front quarter panel vents are active and help cool the front brakes – and they need it while stopping all 4004lbs of this RWD Stinger. KIA does outfit the GT model with Brembo brakes which stop this beast in a respectable 158 feet from 70 miles per hour. Zero to 60 times are in the 4.8 second range and the reported top speed is 167 miles per hour.
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We love the fact that it’s a “hatchback” – now referred to as ‘sportback” – it’s a total grab from the likes of the Audi A7 and provides a lot of cargo room. A side benefit is its ease of access compared to a trunk and you can fit much larger items into it. Think of it as a Grand Touring sedan that will also do well with those trips to Costco.
The secret to KIA’s acceleration is the 3.3 liter V6 which has twin turbo chargers slapped on it. This setup developers 365 horsepower with 376 lb-ft. of torque that kicks in at only 1300 rpm. The end result is a very responsive engine which develops power early, with little “turbo lag”. To help put the power down, KIA mated the engine to a very quick-shifting 8-speed automatic, sporting paddle shifters and a true manual mode. Meaning, it won’t force an upshift when you hit the redline.
As when driving any Grand Touring car, there is that constant lust to keep one’s right foot firmly planted into the accelerator pedal as far as it’ll go. While I can neither confirm or deny this happened with my time in the vehicle – I can say that driving it this way makes it a thirsty beast. KIA garnered an EPA rating of 18 miles per gallon around town and up to 25 miles per gallon on the highway. However, I believe my average was closer to 14mpg – I suppose I’ll have to work harder at keeping the turbos from spooling up!
Driving the Stinger GT with rear wheel drive takes me back to how most cars were during my childhood. There’s a beautiful, harmonious balance that happens when you put the power to the rear. The way it pushes you rather than pulls you around corners is sublime. Additionally, the ability to disable traction control and do some sweet donuts is always a bonus. Thankfully, KIA does include a launch-control system which helps deliver the power in the most effective manner possible to get you off the line with very minimal traction loss.
Taking corners is also a joy in the Stinger as it has very minimal body rolls and remains relatively flat during hard cornering. Independent testing shows that the GT is good for a .93g on a skid pad. Anything 1.0 or over is normally something you’ll only see in a super-car. So at its current lateral g-force rating, it proves to be in the discussion with the likes of the BMW 4 series and Audi S5.
Inside, KIA has pulled out all the stops and easily delivered the nicest interior we’ve ever seen from them. Hand stitched leather abounds as does very nice-looking surfaces such as carbon fiber, soft-to-the-touch rubberized surfaces and has a very “Germanesque” look and feel to it. Clearly, there are hints of design influence from Audi, BMW and even Mercedes in the mix.
Our test model GT had the optional LKAS (lane keep assist system) which will help keep the car in the lane on roads that have clear lane markers. Also installed was the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision system with pedestrian detection. Front heated and cooled seats are standard and there are rear air vents for passengers back there.
As far as the infotainment system goes, the GT model has a 7.1-inch touch screen that’s easy to use and feeds a great-sounding 9 speaker audio system, however, we’d recommend opting for the optional 720-watt, 15 speaker, Harmon/Kardon setup as its sound-quality is easily amongst the best you’ll find in any new car, at any price and it has a larger, 8-inch screen.
Priced at a hair over $38,000, the Stinger GT is poised to take on the world of its competition at a value proposition that’s frankly unheard of. KIA has absolutely nailed it with this car and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results – especially when you factor in its price, industry leading, 10 year warranty and great styling.
So go ahead, say it: “I can’t believe it’s a KIA!” Then drive one, I’m quite confident it’ll win you over.
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