First Drive: 2018 Kia Stinger

2018 Kia Stinger

It will get your adrenaline pumping!

By Larry Nutson

Senior Editor and Bureau Chief

Chicago Bureau

The Auto Channel

Kia has ventured into new territory with the introduction of its all-new, very bold 5-passenger sportback sedan, the Stinger. The Stinger is the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history and is in the space typically occupied by European automakers.

The Stinger is based on Kia’s GT Concept that was first shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. We got an in-person first hand look at the production-version at the beginning of this year at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Kia then paraded the Stinger around to other auto shows throughout the year.

In May the Kia team made a detailed presentation on their new Stinger sportback to the Midwest Automotive Media Association at their Spring Rally held at Road American in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

We didn’t get to drive it until very recently, just in time as the Stinger begins rolling in to dealers across the country.

Lest you question Kia’s ability to complete against the European brands, Kia has topped J.D. Power’s Initial Quality nameplate rankings for the last two years. After ranking highest in the entire industry in 2016, Kia again improved quality and reliability for a second straight year and was recognized in J.D. Power’s 2017 Initial Quality Study (IQS) as the highest-ranking nameplate in the United States.

As a further attestation, it was just announced at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, the all-new Kia Stinger fastback sport sedan was named as one of three finalists for the 2018 North American Car of the Year. The winner will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018.


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So keep reading and I’ll tell you a bit about the all-new 4-door, 5-passenger 2018 Stinger sport sedan. It was designed in Europe at Kia’s Frankfurt, Germany design studio. Engineering was handle by the Korea-based development team with ride and handling the responsibility of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development engineers that included testing on the grueling Nürburgring racing circuit. 

It’ll be offered in five trim levels--Stinger, Premium, GT, GT1 and GT2. Prices start at $31,900 and go up to $51,400.

There’s two engines to choose from: a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder Theta II engine producing 255 horsepower; and, a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which produces 365 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

And, the Stinger is Kia’s first sedan available with rear- or all-wheel drive.  Rear-wheel biased for optimal control in the wet or dry, the AWD system features a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system that monitors driver inputs and road conditions and automatically applies power and braking force to the appropriate wheels to help maintain course in a variety of road conditions.

With the 2.0-liter engine the Stinger will go from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds The 3.3-liter V6 powering the Stinger GT will hit 60 mph from stop in just 4.7 seconds. Top speed is an amazing 167 mph.

The 2.0-liter has the better EPA fuel economy ratings at 22 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. The V6 is EPA-rated at 19 city mpg and 25 highway mpg.

You can easily look at www.kia.com for all the specs and standard and optional equipment on each Stinger model.


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One of the most compelling bits of information on the new Stinger is how it stacks up against other Euro - grand tourers, namely the Audi S5 Sportback, both the BMW 440i Grand Coupe and 640i Grand Coupe, and the Porsche Panamera. Also good points of comparison are the Lexus GS and the Infiniti Q50. The Stringer GT has a lower starting price and better performance than all of these. It also has more room too. This all based on data from Kia.

We spent a few hours driving the Stinger GT around city streets and freeways and along LA’s famed Angeles Crest Highway. Winding through the San Gabriel Mountains, the two-lane 66 mile-long highway climbs up above 7,000 ft. The road wasn’t closed to the public but we drove it like it was.

We pushed hard working everything: the GTs 365-HP V6 engine, the 8-speed transmission using paddle shift manual control, the Nürburgring-tuned continuously damping electronically controlled suspension, the huge Brembo disc brakes featuring quad-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers, and the staggered ultra-high performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4 225/40R-19 front and 255/35R-19 rear tires.

The Stinger GT did not disappoint. The ultra-stiff chassis that uses 55 percent advanced high-strength steel combined with the long wheelbase and wide track permit all the cars systems to work very harmoniously together. The Singer GT is nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet. 


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Following this highway drive I also got to push the Stinger GT with AWD through an autocross course. Autocross requires smooth transitions and moderated heavy acceleration. The rear-wheel biased AWD system features a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control that puts power or braking to the wheels to maintain course. Up against the competition I previously mentioned the Stinger GT is a formidable performer.

I did get to take a 2.0-Liter base Stinger for a quick spin and thought the overall driving dynamics as well as cabin comfort and low noise level were certainly in line, and well worth the consideration of someone not needing the performance level of the V6 and perhaps wanting lower fuel consumption.

Let me throw in here that on a 30 minute, all-highway, 27 mile drive to our hotel at the end of the day we got 29 mpg with a V6 Stinger GT rear-drive, easily beating the EPA rating. I can image what the 2.0-liter will do!

Also note that the Stinger has available 18 different driver-assistance safety features including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and stop, as well as smart cruise control, blind spot warning, plus more.


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My overall impression of the Stinger GT is really positive. With its well-balanced ride and handling, comfortable seating for five, plenty of room for luggage, and decent fuel economy, I’m ready to take it on a long, fun road trip. Plus, the pricing makes it a really good value.

The 2018 Kia Stinger and Stinger GT will be in dealers in December.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

This report comes from an invitation-only Kia launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Kia provided my overnight accommodations, meals, and transportation.

The Most In-Depth Independent Kia Vehicle Shopper's Research - Anywhere!

Source : https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2017/12/11/473348-2018-kia-stinger-adrenaline-pumping-review-by-larry-nutson.html

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