2018 Kia Stinger GT Review


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It’s one thing to take aim at a target from the shooting line. It’s quite another to take aim from clear across the field—and still land on the paper. That’s what Kia appeared to do with the Stinger at our 2018 Car of the Year program, where we named it a finalist in one of the most competitive COTY fields to date. Seemingly out of nowhere, there’s now another option to the swoopy liftback four-doors from BMW and Audi. But does it pose a real threat to the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, and others? To find out, we’ve taken delivery of a 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD for one whole year, and I have the great fortune of being its chaperone.

Take one look at our 2018 Car of the Year notebook, and it’s easy to see how impressed we were with the newcomer from Kia. “[Interior] materials all look remarkably high quality,” said technical director Frank Markus. “The Stinger drives more European than anything from Korea so far—and most things from Japan,” said international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie. “There’s a measured, almost Germanic, weighting to all the controls and to the body motions.”

And though not all judges agreed on the Stinger’s road manners and interior, there was no argument about its sexy exterior design. MacKenzie described the Stinger as “beautifully surfaced and visually arresting,” going on to say, “It looks like an elegant four-door fastback, with a hint of the old Maserati 3200 GT.”

The Stinger has just begun to hit the streets at the time of this writing, so our tester has attracted plenty of attention. Whether it was curious passersby at the gas station wanting to know what it was or Dodge Chargers on the freeway wanting to see what it could do, our bright HiChroma Red Stinger GT simply could not be left alone no matter where I took it. I blame Kia design boss Peter Schreyer for penning such a seductive shape. We’ll see if the looks, comments, and stoplight engine revs continue after the Stinger has been out for a few months.

Being a GT model, our tester packs a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 that pumps out a healthy 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. We opted for a rear-drive V-6 variant for many reasons, but mostly because we like drifting. The GT2 trim starts at a spendy-for-a-Kia but reasonable-for-a-premium-sport-sedan $50,100. You do get advanced driver assist features such as forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and Driver Attention Warning as standard. As such, this car is essentially already fully loaded and comes to us with no additional options.

Of course, you don’t have to spend that much to get in a Stinger. A base 2.0-liter turbo starts at $32,800, and a base GT, which packs the same 365-hp punch as our car, starts just under $40,000. Are the extra bells and whistles worth the money? We hope to have an answer within the next 12 months.

We’re just as eager to see how easy this car is to live with day to day as we are to take it out on our favorite back roads and perhaps the occasional autocross or track day. We’re also eager to see how the Stinger stacks up against more expensive rivals from Germany in terms of quality, comfort, value, and fun. The arrow has landed on the target, but just how close is it to the bull’s-eye? Stay tuned as we find out.

2018 Kia Stinger GT
BASE PRICE $39,250
PRICE AS TESTED $50,100
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.3L/365-hp/376-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
WHEELBASE 114.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 190.2 x 73.6 x 55.1 in
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/25/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/135 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.91 lb/mile