Kia Stinger GT First Drive Review

Kia's new high performance sports saloon

The Kia Stinger GT!

The Kia Stinger is a very exciting new model from Kia. The brand is more associated with SUVs and small hatchbacks, but the Stinger looks set to change all that. The Kia Stinger is a flagship for the brand, a high-performance luxury sports saloon packing 370hp in V6 form with a classic, sporty, rear wheel drive layout.

Styling

The Kia Stinger is a beautiful evolution of Kia styling from Kia’s more, ahem, bread and butter models. The tiger nose grille is here, albeit more stretched than usual to accommodate the larger proportions of a flagship saloon. In silhouette the Stinger is elegant and sporty. It looks fast and luxurious and a little like a Maserati around the back where two sets of double exhaust add menace, along with air vents on the bonnet and behind the front wheels.

Interior

Inside, this is the most luxurious Kia we’ve seen. The quality and finish is a big step up from the Kia Optima. There is lots of stylish aluminium, leather and elegant circular air vents. The roof and pillars have a suede material finish.

Practicality

The Kia Stinger offers plenty of interior accommodation and rear seat passengers will find deep footwells, though things are tighter for the middle seat passenger because of the transmission tunnel that eats into legroom, similar to other rear wheel drive saloons. The hatchback style boot reveals 406 litres of space.

Engines

The Stinger will be available with a choice of two engines in Ireland: a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 (370hp), and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine (200hp). At the Irish launch of this model in Kildare I drove the V6 and the engine feels suitably meaty for a gran turismo like the Stinger. The car rockets forward when the accelerator is pressed hard with 510Nm torque available. My only complaint is that it could be noisier!

2018 Kia Stinger GT
The interior of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT

On the road

The Kia Stinger has a low-slung, performance-oriented driving position. An eight speed automatic comes as standard and it’s a smooth operator. The car has a number of driving modes. I left it in Sport for a bit more engine note, more throttle response and quicker shifts. The car has a stable, comfortable ride and deals with Ireland’s changeable road surfaces very well. The Kia Stinger has a classic rear wheel drive layout for greater handling balance, which is certainly apparent in the way it corners. It still feels like a large, heavy car but it’s dynamically a huge step up from what we’ve driven from Kia previously.  On the motorway there is some road noise but the overarching impression is one of refinement and excellent ‘grand cruise’ ability.

Equipment

The Kia Stinger is available as a GT Line or a GT and comes well equipped with 18” alloys, sunroof, LED lights fronts and back, heated steering wheel, leather seats, heated seats front and rear, navigation, harmon kardon sound system, touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, push button start, automatic cruise control, blind spot detection, lane keep assist,  speed limit information, front and rear park assist and camera, heads up display, dual zone air con, power tailgate, wireless phone charger, electric parking brake and autonomous emergency braking,

The GT model adds 19” alloys, dual muffler, Nappa leather and Brembo brakes.

2018 Kia Stinger GT
The Kia Stinger GT is a powerful sports saloon

Pricing

The 3.3 litre V6 GT model is priced at €66,895 and the 2.2 litre diesel GT Line model is priced around €53,000 (TBC). Both will be available in Ireland in March 2018.

Verdict

The Kia Stinger is a fantastic halo car for the Korean brand. It’s drop dead gorgeous to look at and the quality is excellent for a brand who is having a first go at making a real luxury motor. Dynamically the car is a huge improvement and step forward for the brand. This is a large spacious car with kerb appeal that can hold its head high.

Caroline Kidd