Flagship bearer of the Kia brand, the Stinger raises the eyebrows of grand touring sedan enthusiasts as it compares favorably to top-of-the-range German and Japanese models.
The Kia Stinger is the automobile that nobody expected, at least not from the Kia brand. Until now, this brand had offered rather affordable mass-market products. Moreover, some still associate it with the inexpensive compact Sephia or the rather rustic first-generation Sportage, the two models that were used to launch Kia in the country in 1999. Two models which are naturally poles apart from the Stinger, it’s obvious.
Today, this Korean brand has a very diverse range made up of many more sophisticated models. It even targets niches that have hitherto been untouched. This sumptuous sedan, for example, should titillate buyers of luxury grand touring models; cars like the BMW 3 and 4 Series, the Mercedes-AMG C-Class, the Lexus IS 350 and the Volkswagen Arteon. With this exceptional model, Kia wants to kill two birds with one stone: flirt with these buyers while enhancing its brand image.
To achieve this, we created a unique hatchback that is distinguished by a crisp silhouette, powerful mechanics, inspiring road dynamics and a sumptuous interior which, as a bonus, is versatile. The 2019 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year title surely didn’t hurt it either.
Launched at the end of 2017, the Stinger sports an expressive shape produced under the direction of German designer Peter Schreyer. It is characterized by a tiger-muzzle-shaped grille, wide tracks, a very short front overhang, a long wheelbase, a larger rear overhang and wheel arches well filled by elegant 19 ” alloy wheels. Its finely arched roof is also reminiscent of models like the BMW 440i Gran Coupé. Furthermore, this very successful silhouette radically differentiates it from the Genesis G70 with which it shares its platform and its engine; a three-volume sedan, closer to the 3 Series in this detail.
The manufacturer gives it five places. Forget the fifth, that central rear seat that a very prominent transmission tunnel makes uncomfortable. On the other hand, the two side seats, difficult to access because of the low and curved roof, are relatively spacious, provided that the front occupants do not take too much ease!
More reserved in appearance than the bodywork, the interior is primarily practical with controls that are easy to use and very accessible. In addition, the finish and quality of materials are up to the competition. The interior of the Stinger 20th Anniversary 2020, which we have tested, has attracted a lot of approving comments because of, among other things, its red nappa leather upholstery!
From the safe to sell
This luxurious and cozy environment does not prevent the Stinger from having an unexpected practicality. Like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé or an Audi A5 / S5 Sportback, this Kia houses a convertible trunk. By lifting its very long tailgate (with power opening), we discover a vast cargo space with a satisfactory headroom, despite the restrictive shape of the roof. With a useful volume of 660 L, it is already greater than that of an M340i (480 L), but it is enough to fold down the 60/40 backrests of the rear seat to practically double this volume, which then reaches 1,158 L. This trunk, which has a flat floor over its entire surface, demonstrates that luxury and versatility can go hand in hand.
The Stinger line has two versions: the entry level GT and the Limited GT. The latter benefits from more extensive equipment. For 2020, the automaker has added the special 20th anniversary Stinger edition produced in just 150 units. Recognizable by its Phantom Gray paint, its exclusive wheels and carpet protectors with red stitching, this version, which incorporates the endowment of a GT Limitée, was created to mark the 20 years of the brand in Canada.
All Stinger share the same engine. Their powerful 3.3L twin-turbo V6, the same that powers the Genesis G70, is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This 365 hp Lambda II engine produces 376 lb-ft of torque over a wide rev range (1,300 to 4,500 rpm), which explains its sustained acceleration and exhilarating performance (0-100 km / h in 5 s and dust). All versions have four-wheel drive driven by four-wheel drive favoring the rear wheels using a dynamic torque vector control device. The latter measures driver input and road conditions to automatically transfer power and braking force to the wheels that need it to maintain lane on a dry or wet road.
A real GT
In addition to this hardware store, the management is precise, a quality that has not always been associated with the products of this brand. Plus, powerful Brembo brakes deliver a braking quality you’d expect with so much horsepower under the hood. The electronically controlled suspension, on the other hand, uses MacPherson struts up front designed to optimize the feel to the driver, while maximizing stability and steering response. At the rear, a multi-link suspension promotes directional responsiveness, while a reinforced anti-roll bar guarantees high-level stability by minimizing vibrations from the body.
To fully satisfy the buyer of a GT, this car has been fitted with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the manual mode of the automatic transmission and an engine management system offering five modes (Eco, Comfort, Smart, Sport and Custom). However, only the GT Limited version has a self-locking differential.
However, in addition to this last technical detail, we will probably choose the GT Limited version above all to take advantage of its LED headlights with directional beams, or its Harman Kardon audio system with 15 speakers, unless it is for the head-up display, ventilated front seats or the three driving aids that are missing from the already very complete set of the Stinger GT. But in general, if I exclude the limited-slip differential, this entry-level version has everything needed to add a substantial dose of spice to a driver’s life!