2018 Kia Stinger GT. Car enthusiasts may argue about their favorite cars, but in reality there’s a long list of performance cars that everyone agrees on. From pony cars like the Mustang and Camaro, to European sports sedans, and even the nimble Miata – the Kia Stinger borrows a little from each to try to create its own blend of performance car magic. While they have done an excellent job of creating safe, value-driven, sensible and even imaginative cars – performance hasn’t been one of Kia’s strong suits. That all changes with the introduction of the Stinger, available with a 3.3-Liter twin turbo V6, churning out 365hp and pulling the car to 60mph in just 4.4-seconds. In other words, on paper it looks great.
Often cars look great by the numbers, but don’t really translate to an enjoyable experience. Luckily that’s not the case here as Kia has mana ged to deliver a car that looks interesting, goes like stink and has the proper techie content. There are lots of derivative design elements, each borrowed from a different car – but the overall effect is a sort of funky sedan/hatchback hybrid that just works. Our test car was the AWD version, and while we’d love to try the lighter RWD model, this one was no slouch. In fact, it’s downright fast. It’s the kind of power only a modern turbo engine can deliver, with a flat, broad torque curve that means it’s pulling like a freight train no matter which of the 8-speeds are selected. But by having so many cogs to choose from, their engine is always in the sweet spot and thrust is always impressive.
Handling is excellent as well, with a direct steering feel and sure-footed stability. The AWD seemed fairly rear-biased, but would transition to understeer when pushed to the limit. Buzzing around town, it proved exceptionally nimble, especially considering the hefty 4000+ lbs. curb weight. One of the reasons for the extra weight are an abundance of features. All the tech safety features you can imagine, great smartphone connectivity and an easy-to-use infotainment system. There’s plenty of space on the inside as well, and the hatch design makes way for plenty of cargo if needed.
Interestingly, Kia calls this a sedan – but it’s not really a sedan just like the BMW 440i Gran Coupe or Audi A7 isn’t. This is something kind of new in the marketplace, a hybrid between sedan and hatchback that gives coupe-like looks, sedan-like back seat and hatchback-like cargo capacity. It’s not too hard to tell that the German cars were Kia’s target when designing this, but lots of comparisons to the Mustang are being talked about as well. Maybe it’s the ‘GT’ moniker, but we agree this is more German wannabe than Mustang wannabe. Fortunately, it’s good enough on its own not to be simply measured against them.
Styling-wise, the Stinger strikes an interesting profile, with the sloping C-Pillar giving coupe proportions in the rear ¾ view. Upfront, the grilles are somewhat reminiscent of BMW’s kidney grilles, but with a more Kia-like shape. ‘Black chrome’ accents on the mirrors and trim set the styling apart, and the low/wide shape relays the capable handling. Overall, it’s as fun to look at as it is to drive.
Another thing that sets this Kia apart from the crowd it the warranty, mirroring the rest of the Kia lineup. The industry-leading coverage is 5yr/60k miles bumper-to-bumper and 10yr/100k miles. Try finding another high-performance car, packed with tech, which has anything close to those terms. We hardly talked about it, but there’s an entry-level 2.0-Turbo with a very respectable 255hp, and starting at only $32k. Going to the V6-powered GT pushes $40k, and with options you’re well into the 40’s, but it’s still a lot of car for the money. In short, the Stinger delivers on all fronts, and if you’re an enthusiast you owe it to yourself to try one out!