2018 Kia Stinger
by John Davis
The Kia brand has come a long way in a short time, both in design and quality. But, as good as their vehicles are today, their long range goal seems directed at being a true Asian alternative to European luxury-sport brands. That’s a tall order, and for it, they have ordered up an all-new rear-wheel drive sedan, the Stinger.
Now, Kia has been working towards building more exciting and dynamic cars for quite a while. But, the 2018 Kia Stinger is their biggest step yet. While called a sedan, it’s really a well-camouflaged 5-door hatchback. Sizewise, the Stinger is almost mid-size, being bigger than a BMW 3-Series but smaller than a 5-Series.
Under that fastback skin lies the more important story, a finely-balanced, rear-drive chassis shared with the forthcoming Genesis G70. Raise the long hood and one finds a longitudinal, class requisite, base turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with 255-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Optionally, the Stinger GT packs a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 good for 365-horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque. Both hook up to an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and both can add all-wheel drive.
While the 2.0 is no slouch, the GT’s V6 powertrain really impressed us with its overall smoothness. Even the paddle shifters work with a quick precision we didn’t expect.
Apart from its tiger nose, the Stinger’s styling doesn’t favor anything else in the Kia stable. It nails the luxuriously sporty look, attracting the kind of attention usually reserved for exotics. We will admit there are some Audi cues here, but hey, if you’re going to copy someone, you should make it one of the best.
Optional all-wheel drive grip and well-designed launch control make for simple, drama-free launches. There’s hardly any sense of weight transfer either. One second you’re sitting still, and the next you’re at full power, and the car feels very stable at high speeds.
While there is nothing exotic in the basic suspension theory, it’s all in the tuning, and the results feel totally in that realm. There is massive grip through corners, staying nice and stable with minimal flex. Braking, thanks to standard Brembos, is equally impressive.
There’s plenty of room in the cabin, both front and rear. Standard V6 GT trim comes with a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel, rear view camera, and aluminum trim. There’s a practical side as well as hatchback versatility means a wide opening with more-than-ample cargo space with seats up or down.
For our complete road test of the 2018 Kia Stinger, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3719 that begins airing January 12, 2018. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
While it was easy to be impressed with the first effort at building a European-style sport sedan from a Korean brand, we’d be just as impressed with the 2018 Kia Stinger if had come from a well-established marque. It is that spectacular.