There was jaw-dropping on my part experiencing the smooth and powerful acceleration of this new entry into the sports sedan market.
There was jaw-dropping at the way the car was able to negotiate turns at speed in its all-wheel-drive format, but the biggest jaw-dropping came from those who viewed the Stinger GT for the first time, who thought, “That’s a Kia? No way!”
Kia Motors, the automaker known more for its level-entry economy sedans and SUVs, has entered the world of Jaguar, BMW, Audi and other sport sedans with its new Stinger GT. It comes in two versions, the GT which starts at $44,195, and the Stinger GT Limited tested here which starts at $49,995.
This new entry into a hot segment of the market checks all the boxes. A long-hood, short rear-deck body provides enough styling cues and tempered looks to make it the best-looking Kia ever. There is a large amount of cabin space, especially for front-seat passengers. There is a huge amount of usable cargo space once the rear hatch is opened. The controls and switchgear for the driver are well-executed and integrated for driving.
Along with all this, you get performance that one would never associate with Kia.
Performance in the way of a 365-HP twin-turbo 3.3-L V6 and eight-speed automatic. This engine, a member of the Hyundai-Kia family and used in the Genesis, propels the bigger luxury Genesis along quite nicely, but we’re talking holy-crap acceleration in the Stinger. Once the turbos kick in, this engine pulls and pulls and pulls as the speedometer needle climbs swiftly to aircraft takeoff speed.
Coupled to an eight-speed automatic, the Stinger provides seamless shifting when left alone, but with five drive modes (smart, eco, comfort, sport, and custom) and rev-matched downshifts from paddle usage, the car offers a range of driving from thrifty economy to working out at track day.
Canadian-sold Stingers come with all-wheel-drive only (US cars can be ordered with rear-wheel-drive as well), using McPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear suspension. This set-up is geared for both comfort and handling with a nod towards the former, but the Stinger, with its 19-inch alloy rims and Michelin performance tires, will provide enhanced cornering and drivability when called upon.
The Stinger also benefits from the calipers of four-piston front and two-piston rear Brembo-installed brakes on both GT versions, providing assured and predictable stopping power for a car that weighs over 4000 pounds.
Inside, the well-appointed cabin is tasteful and well executed for the driver. All controls and switchgear are easy to find and easy to use, such as the knobs for the heating, A/C and sound systems. Kia has provided a large amount of data through its simple and easy-to-read info screen placed between an analogue tachometer and speedometer in front of the driver. The car even provides engine torque readings. I am not a fan of navigation / entertainment screens that stick up out of the center of the dashboard, but the unit on the Stinger is lower than others and does not impede with forward vision. To further enhance your need for information, the GT Limited has a heads-up display.
Driver and passenger seats are 12-way heated leather. Along with all these adjustments, the seat travel is extensive, more than enough for a six-foot person. Visibility is good and while the rear window is very small, vision out the rear is better than expected once you’re settled in.
The base GT is well-equipped and items such as a sun roof, power hatch lift and seven-inch display audio come standard. With the GT Limited you get an eight-inch screen with navigation, air cooled front seats, a 15-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system, a wireless cellphone charger and other options to make your trip enjoyable and comfortable.
If there is a car in the Kia line-up that shatters the company’s economy car reputation, the Stinger GT is it. This is an impressive and seriously capable sports sedan offering great value and has Kia’s 100,000 km five-year warranty. It may have taken Kia time to get it to market, but it was worth the wait.
STARTING PRICE: $49,995 (GT Limited).
PRICE AS TESTED (Less freight and taxes): $50,195 (GT Limited with paint color upgrade).
DRIVETRAIN: All-wheel drive, front-mounted 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6.
POWER: 365 horsepower, 376 LB-FT torque.
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic / all-wheel drive / 3.53:1 final drive.
SUSPENSION: McPherson strut and gas shock absorber with dynamic dampers on front / five-link rear.
WHEELS: 19-inch wheels / P225/40R19 tires front, P255/35R/19 tires rear.
BRAKES: Brembo 13.8-inch ventilated front disc, 13.4-inch ventilated rear disc.
WHEELBASE: 2,905 MM (114.3 inches).
WEIGHT: 1,873 KG (4129 LB).
CARGO: 1158 L (40.8 cubic feet) with rear seats folded / 660 L (23.3 cubic feet) with rear seat in place.
FUEL CAPACITY: 60 L (13.1 gal).
FUEL MILEAGE: 11.3 L/100 km overall.