When all the world is awash with crossovers and SUVs, it’s nice to see at least one car company is bucking the trend and releasing a brand new four door sedan into their model range. Kia has done just that with their new Stinger. I spent a week with the top-of-the-line Stinger GT to see how it stands up against its European competitors.
The Stinger is a brand new car for Kia and their chassis engineers were given a blank canvas for the design of the car’s suspension and steering characteristics. These needed to be on point because the GT engine produces 272kW, from the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 that enables the car to accelerate from 0-to-100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating production Kia ever!
Each development car was put through a minimum of 10,000 km – 480 laps – of high-stress driving around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Widely regarded as the ultimate proving ground, the circuit has 73 corners, a 300-metre difference in height between the highest and lowest points of the circuit, and gradients of up to 17%. Beyond the Nürburgring, testing for the Stinger was carried out globally, with over 1.1 million km of durability testing done around the world in all climate types.
So has all of the development lead to a good outcome for the Kia? Yes, it has! The Stinger GT is a real crowd pleaser, whether you are in the car or out of it. All of my friends who dropped by to check out the Stinger were mighty impressed with the finish inside and the sportiness of the car on the road. I received more than one approving nod from passersby and another friend said it was very conspicuous and she really noticed it on the road. I bet you haven’t heard that said about another Kia, have you?
On the outside the design lines are very appealing, with its long nose, sloping roof and short tail, the Kia really does look the part of a gran turismo that the designers set out to create. It has similar lines to a Tesla Model S or Audi A5 and the colour I had was also particularly stunning, Hichroma Red, it looked beautiful both in the full sun and under lights.
On the inside the cabin was nicely appointed with a brushed aluminium centre console, soft feeling stitched plastic across the dash and a simple button layout for the controls that looked good and was easy to use. The interior trim of the roof, pillars and visors was suede adding to the luxury feel of the GT.
The infotainment is accessed via the 8” touch screen or steering wheel mounted controls. Voice control can also be used for the phone and media player when your phone is connected with a USB cable to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. One thing that I thought could be improved was the voice control when your phone was connected via Bluetooth, which was not compatible with my phone and therefore did not work.
To keep your phone battery topped up the Kia has wireless phone charging for compatible devices, and there are two USB ports in the front and one in the back plus a 12V power outlet in the front and back as well, so there should not be any arguments about charging of devices while driving.
The satellite navigation system comes with ten years support for traffic management information and MapCare. It was easy to dial in a destination and you could also use it while moving, which is great so your passenger can use it while you are driving. It even told you when you were about to enter a school zone or when a left lane was ending even if you weren’t using guidance at the time, something I thought was a really good feature especially if you were driving in an area you were not familiar with.
All Stinger models come with a DAB+ digital radio, but the GT comes with a 15 speaker premium sound system by harmon/kardon and it certainly passes my volume test of drowning out my signing voice, something my passengers can be very thankful for!
The Stinger GT also comes with Sports Nappa leather appointed seats with the GT logo on the head rest. These are a lovely soft feeling leather and the front seats are heated and cooled and come with 8-way adjustment including lumbar support. But I prefer a seat that hugs my waist a bit more closely so that you feel locked into the seat when cornering hard. The driver’s seat has a two seating position memory, with easy access to the controls on the door. One thing that the Kia does differ from European cars though is the interior smell, when you get into a European car the smell of the leather is nicer than that of the Kia.
The driving position is good though and the GT comes with a flat-bottomed perforated leather sports steering wheel that can be electronically adjusted. For me it could have been a bit chunkier to give it an even more sportier feel. But a cool feature of the Stinger GT was the way the steering wheel went up and the seat went back once you turned off the car to make it easier for you to get in and out.
In the rear there is plenty of legroom for adults and children alike. There are three rear tether points and two ISOFIX points for car seats and installing my two rear tether car seats was a very simple task. Fitting a third car seat in the middle could be tricky and would require careful selection of car seats to ensure that three of them could fit across the back comfortably. The car seats did block rear vision out of the back window, however and a third seat could essentially mean no vision at all due to the narrowness of the rear window.
For transporting all of the children’s necessities the boot of the Stinger is ideal. It’s so big, it would easily swallow a full size pram and the weekly shop together or even a couple of bikes or scooters if a trip to the local bike track was in order. And if you needed even more space the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 configuration.
The Stinger GT is packed with active safety features to make driving less of a chore on your daily commute. The features include Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Detection, and Advanced Smart Cruise Control that automatically slows down when the traffic in front of you slows. For assistance with parking there are front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera with dynamic parking guidelines and the GT also comes with a 360° camera view, which is as good as the one in Mercedes-Benz and makes parking in tight spaces a synch. Passive safety features include front and side airbags plus knee airbags for the driver and side door impact beams. All must haves to help keep your family safe.
On the road the Stinger GT gives you five driving modes to choose from being Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom. Each mode changes the colour of the dash display as well with Sport mode of course being red. In Sport mode the damping of the car is stiffer to provide greater body control and handling agility during more spirited driving plus increased on-centre steering effort, with shorter gearing providing more immediate response from the engine and louder engine noise in the cabin. All of these features mean you really do notice the difference between Comfort and Sport modes.
In Custom mode you can adjust the Engine/Transmission into Eco, Comfort or Sport and the Steering Wheel feel and Suspension into either Comfort or Sport. And the active engine sound can also be adjusted between Minimised to Neutral and Enhanced.
All of these features are the kind you would expect to come in a German sedan, but not in a Kia. Other un-Kia like features in the GT include a torque and boost gauge, Lap Timer and G-Force meter all of which can be displayed on the 7” colour TFT-LCD instrument cluster. The GT also has a colour head-up display with digital speedo and satellite navigation guidance displayed when guidance is in use. The 330Si and GT both come with 19” alloy wheels and Brembo brakes and a temporary spare wheel, hooray no run-flat foam here!
Of course I drove the Stinger around most of the time in Sport mode and so my average fuel consumption for the week was 12.3L/100km, the official combined fuel consumption figure is 10.2L/100km. Talking about fuel the Stinger actually runs on regular unleaded and not premium unleaded and is compatible with E10 fuel, a great cost saving measure every time you fill up at the pump.
With a list of creature comforts to rival similar sized European four door sedans, what would you expect to pay for the Stinger GT, $80,000? No, it’s just $55,990 plus on road costs and as tested $58,288.18 plus on road costs as my GT was fitted with the bi-modal exhaust option. Plus the Kia comes with capped price servicing for seven years (also Kia’s warranty period) with a total price for the seven years being just $3,412.
So with performance figures and inclusions to match many far more expensive four-door sedans the Kia Stinger GT is a relative bargain and a great driver’s car as well, go and test drive one for yourself and I’m sure you will agree!
For more information about the Kia Stinger GT contact your local dealer.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.