stinger - Kia Stinger GT 5 - Kia Stinger: what’s it really like?

What is it?

We get asked about this car almost as much as the Ford Mustang.

That in itself says bucket loads about the job that Kia has done with the Stinger.

Launched in 2017, we drove the four cylinder model several months ago and although it was nice and looked the part, we remained unconvinced.

After driving the six a couple of weeks ago, however, we reckon the Stinger comes close to being the real deal — a big, impressive, 2+2 GT that has the cut through to make it on the North Shore where the only language they normally seem to speak is German.

And, just to clarify, after an initial hiccup, all models in the Stinger range now receive a full five-star safety rating (unlike the poor old Mustang).

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What’s it cost?

Prices start from $46,990 for the 2.0-litre, four cylinder 200 S, rising to $52,990 for the 200 Si or $55,990 for the GT-Line.

The 3.3-litre six kicks off at $49,990 for the 330 S, $55,990 for the 330 Si or $59,990 for the top of the line GT (the subject of our test).

Even at a shade under $60K, given its finish, performance and long equipment list, the GT represents terrific value compared to competitors, whoever or whatever they may be.

In terms of size it’s the Holden Commodore and Skoda Superb, and like Commodore, it’s rear wheel drive (I was about to say), but of course Commodore is no longer rear wheel drive.

The Skoda? Well, most people wouldn’t recognise a Skoda Superb if they run into one.

Cast in the mould of a four-door coupe with liftback, Stinger looks from the front pure, Schreyer.

But, viewed from the rear in traffic, it’s reminiscent of a Maserati with its wide haunches, quad pipes and full width tail light assembly.

The car sits low and sleek on 19 inch alloys, with different-sized front and rear rubber: 225/40 front and 255/35 rear (Michel Pilot Sport 4).

The GT includes a string of safety features, including drowsiness alert and auto emergency braking (AEB), plus active cruise, 360-degree overhead camera, LED head lights that turn with the wheel, automatic high beam and colour Heads Up Display (HUD).

The sports seats are trimmed in Nappa leather with GT logos, with powered lumbar, bolster and thigh adjustment.
The seats are also heated and cooled, with two-position seat memory and a D-cut steering wheel making access easier.
A large sunroof is standard, along with power tailgate, alloy sports pedals, propeller style air vents, and the roof and door pillars are trimmed in suede.
The large tablet style 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes satellite navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
There is also wireless phone charging capability.
One of the highlights of the GT is the 15-speaker, 720 watt Harman/Kardon audio system, which features eight speakers, four tweeters, centre speaker and two subwoofers powered by an external amplifier (and great sound).
The subwoofers are hidden under the driver and front passenger seats.
Clari-Fi music technology restores audio signals lost in the digital compression process.

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What’s it go like?

At 4830mm in length and 1870mm in width, Stinger is quite long and wide, designed more as a highway cruiser than corner cruncher.

The long 2905mm wheelbase does however provide plenty of room in the cabin, with plenty of rear legroom and a large but shallow cargo area, that offers 406 litres of space.

At 1400mm and stting low to the ground, entry and exit can be challenging for mature buyers, especially parked facing up hill — but that’s basically the price you pay for the sporty good looks.

If you want something easier, then perhaps you need to consider an SUV.

Once you’re in the driver’s seat, pause and have a good look around — the cabin is a thing of beauty.

It’s trimmed and finished to a high standard, with red, stitched Nappa leather and metal ringed gauges and a metal speaker grilles.

The eight-way, power adjust driver’s seat, features electric lumbar, bolster and thigh adjustment.

The dash features two simple easy to read analogue dials with an info display between including digital speed.

Push the start button and the engine springs to life.

The sound is the first thing you notice.

The four cylinder model produces 182kW and 353Nm.

The main event, the 3.3-litre twin turbo V6 produces 272kW of power and 510Nm of torque, the latter from a low 1300 through to 4500 revs.

Weighing in at 1780kg, needless to say the car accelerates rapidly, with the dash from 0-100km/h taking just 4.9 seconds.

The twin turbo V6 is paired with an 8-speed auto, with drive to the rear wheels, a mechanical limited slip rear diff and launch control to get it moving as quickly as possible.

The transmission offers adaptive shift and five different drive programs, that have an impact on throttle response, the steering effort required and electronic dampers, softening or firming the ride.

Sport mode brings things to life, but the ride feels noticeably harsher.

Unlike most cars the gear selector offers no park setting. You push a button for park instead.

It took us a while to get the hang of this. We kept pushing the gear selector forward for park, which in fact puts it into reverse — sometimes with embarrassing results.

Brakes are Brembos all round: 4-piston, 350mm at front and 2-piston, 340mm ventilated disks at the rear, and deliver immediate and reassuring response, allowing for late braking into corners.

The engine has a lovely baritone note, that encourages revving, with nice snap, crackle and pop on overrun.

Ride and handling have thoughtfully been tuned to Australian conditions.

Rated at 10.2L/100km, it has a 60-litre fuel tank and takes standard unleaded petrol.

We clocked up just under 600km at a rate of 9.6L/100km.

It’s a car that is rewarding to drive and one that you will look forward to driving every time you slip behind the wheel.

It’s a car that translates well to Australian roads.

It’s a car that says look at me!

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What we like?

  • Looks the goods
  • Impressive performance
  • Strong brakes
  • First rate interior
  • Great audio
  • Wireless charge pad

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What we don’t like?

  • Low ride height makes access difficult
  • Front spoiler easy to damage
  • Rims also has us worried
  • Annoying tug from Lane Keep Assist
  • Park button instead of gear position
  • Park brake doesn’t come on automatically

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The bottom line?

Kia has arrived with this car. The Stinger is a rare commodity. A car that actually lives up to the hype.

But given its size and price we’d suggest that it is not really a young person’s car. Also given its size and wheelbase don’t expect it to go around corners like an MX-5 — a sports car it ain’t.

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Kia Stinger GT V6 twin turbo, priced from $59,990
  • 8/10
    Looks - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Thirst - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Practicality - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Value - 8.5/10
7.9/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.