Kia Stinger - A GT sports saloon
The Kia Stinger is the Korean firms first attempt to break into the prestige GT sports saloon market, against rivals such as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback. Kia has stepped up their game and decided to challenge the best in the business with their new Stinger, a daunting task for some but Kia have made a fantastic go of it at their first attempt.
The Kia Stinger is a handsome, stylish and muscular car with sweeping lines that flow ever so smoothly together. The gorgeous design of the Kia Stinger should come as no surprise when you look who some of the key members of the design team were. There is Peter Schreyer who helped design the Audi TT, Albert Biermann the former Head of BMW M Division, and Gregory Guillaume who spent his early years working for the Volkswagen Group’s Design team before joining Kia some 15 years ago.
Kia has kept the engine line-up and trim levels fairly simple with a choice of 3 engines and four trims. The trim levels start with the GT Line, followed by the GT Line S, then the Blue Edition and finishes with the top-spec GT S model. Each Stinger, even the entry-level comes with more standard kit than you will find on any of its closest rivals, making it excellent value for money. On top of that, you also get the Kia seven-year Warranty included, something none of its rivals can get close to competing with.
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Engines, Power and Performance
Kia has developed three engines to pair with the Stinger, one diesel and two petrol. There is no hybrid or all-electric option available, however, depending on how well sales go, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of these hit the engine line-up at a later date.
The single diesel offering is the 2.2-litre CRDi four-cylinder engine developing 197bhp and 440Nm of torque. It is capable of hitting 0-60mph in 7.3secs and will gently climb to a top speed of 143mph. The one negative point about this engine is the noise. It is not the quietest, especially when you compare it to the diesel engines found in the other premium models on offer such as the Audi and BMW. This engine is better for motorway driving, as it covers these miles with ease.
The petrol line up starts with the 2.0 T-GDi, a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine which eeks out 242bhp and 353Nm of torque. It will race from 0-60mph in 5.8secs and keep going to a top speed of 149mph.
The final engine in the line-up is the superb 3.3-litre bi-turbo V6 petrol unit badged 3.3 T-GDi. It produces an unheard-of amount of power for a Kia, 361bhp and 510Nm of torque. Having this power enables the Stinger to jet from 0-60mph in just 4.7secs and continue accelerating up to a top speed of 168mph.
Every Stinger engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive system. The transmission is good, but not the best on the market, but the RWD set-up combined with using the flappy paddle gearshifts to change gear manually can make for an enjoyable and playful drive in the right setting.
Interior Quality and Technology
The Kia Stinger certainly looks and feels more upmarket than any other Kia before it and is undoubtedly a step up in class to what we are used to. The layout is good and flows nicely around the driver so that all controls are in easy reach, and the driving position is pretty much perfect. The front seats are both 8-way power-adjustable and come with 4-way power adjustable lumbar support as standard across the range.
The Stinger comes with nearly every extra you can think of as standard, in even the entry-level GT-Line, most of which you would have to pay premium prices for if you opted for a BMW or Audi equivalent. Some of the standard features include a customisable head-up display (HUD), an eight-inch colour touchscreen supporting the Kia infotainment system, with built-in sat-nav and European maps along with Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone mirroring with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, the list just goes on and on.
Choose any of the trims above the entry-level GT-Line, and you get an upgraded 15-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, wireless mobile charging and a 360degree camera amongst other additional features.
The overall material and build quality may not be entirely to the high standards set by Audi or BMW, but they are not too far short and can be forgiven, due to the vast amount of standard kit you get across the range, it really is quite impressive.
Space, Practicality and Safety
The Stinger has a good amount of all-round space inside the cabin with plenty of legroom and headroom upfront. This is helped by the amount of adjustability of the front seats. In the rear, however, it does get a little tighter, legroom is decent as long as the front occupants haven’t moved their seats too far back. Headroom is ok, although anyone close to 6ft tall will feel the tops of their hair brushing on the sloping roofline. The middle seat of the three in the rear offers minimal foot space and legroom and would be best suited to a small child unless you are only making a short journey.
There are various useful storage compartments to be found, such as a spacious cubby underneath the central armrest in the front, door pockets front and rear, a couple of cup holders and a generously sized glovebox. The boot is pretty much on par with the other cars in its class, with a capacity of 406-litres, which can increase up to 1114-litres with the rear seats folded down.
The Kia Stinger achieved a top 5-star rating at the 2017 Euro NCAP safety tests thanks to many of the latest safety features and assists coming as standard across the range. Every Stinger comes with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – city/pedestrian, driver attention warning, Lane Keep Assist and Electronic Stability Control to list just a few.
Overall, for the first attempt at a premium GT sports saloon/coupe, Kia has done an exceptional job with the Stinger. The Stinger looks fantastic and has excellent curb appeal, especially if you can look past the badge and see what a great car this is, especially in full GT-S guise. If this is a starting point, then the Kia Stinger can only improve and will soon be making its rivals stand up and take notice.