Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: March 1, 2018
Kia has been undergoing a transformation as of late, shedding its reputation as the rental car you got on your last Florida trip to revolutionizing itself into a brand with a lot of value behind its name. To help usher in the new era while simultaneously flexing their engineering chops, Kia has introduced the Stinger, an audacious attempt at the classic sports sedan formula.
On the surface, the Stinger looks absolutely primed to take on the competition. Curvy fenders that stretch into the hood and a pair of equally aggressive headlamps convey a front end that’s ready to attack, not exactly something you want to see coming up behind you. The grille is reminiscent of any modern Kia, with one difference being the massive intercooler opening underneath it. On both ends of the lower bumper are a set of function intakes that draw air into the wheel well, cooling the brakes. The emphasis on aerodynamics doesn’t stop there, as an additional pair of vents sit behind the front wheels, channelling the air and further reducing lift.
The Stinger’s silhouette is a game of proportions, and the execution here is superb. Track your gaze from the A-pillar and follow along the long raked back roofline and the vehicle slowly unveils its fastback design. A simple and straight waistline cuts right where you expect it, giving the Stinger that low sporty stance. That theme is carried over to the back with quad exhaust pipes and a set of LED taillamps that are appear eerily similar to a Maserati GranTurismo.
Grab the leather wrapped keyfob, which looks suspiciously like a mid-2000’s MP3 player I once owned, hop inside and you will be at the centre of a cabin that feels surprisingly premium. Leather seats and a brushed aluminum trim adorn most of the surfaces, and all the frequent touchpoints feature a rubbery soft-touch plastic, similar to more expensive offerings from German competitors. One material auspiciously devoid of in any way, shape, or form is carbon fiber. Other automakers please take note - when even Kia thinks it’s too tacky to put fake carbon inside the car, it is time to move on.
Gaze closer and you will notice areas where designers had skimmed on quality. For example, the trim surrounding the window switches are flimsy and look like they will shine from the natural oils of your skin over time, as do the hard plasticky bits surrounding the HVAC system. Kia has done a great job limiting the cheaper bits to less frequent touch points, and that isn’t to say that they didn’t make up for it in value, an area where the Stinger delivers in spades.
For starters, the cockpit packs a full suite of modern conveniences like radar cruise control, emergency autonomous braking, lane keep assist, 360-degree camera, head-up display, and blind spot monitoring technologies, but it is the implementation that make this Stinger extra special to drive. Take for example the side bolsters on the driver’s seat. Start the car and they will inflate to their predefined memory setting. Shut off the car and they will deflate to allow for easy egress. Switch to Sport Mode and the bolsters will squeeze your torso just a little bit tighter, like a reassuring hug that says “you’re about to experience some g-forces in a moment but I’m here for you.”
And you will need every extra bit of bolstering you can get when the hammer drops on the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6. Pin the throttle and power output peaks at 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. The pair of turbochargers assist in maximizing low-end grunt, producing all of that twist as early as 1,300 rpm and all the way up to 4,500 rpm. The result is a meaty powerband that Kia’s 8-speed Sportmatic transmission has no problems dancing within.
This 8-speed is designed completely in-house, and is probably the most admirable feature about this sedan. It’s actually good and comes very close to the industry benchmark ZF 8-speed found in many Jaguars and BMWs. Left to its own devices, the gearbox is smooth, producing seamless upshifts and always complimenting the V6 with the right cog when you need more oomph to exploit a pocket in traffic. In its most aggressive setting (sport) the infancy and imperfections of this transmission begin to show however, with jerky transitions on light throttle inputs when crawling at low speeds.
Power is routed to a rear-biased all-wheel drive system as standard, though Americans will have the option to select a RWD-only model. With 365 horses on tap, the Stinger hustles with ease. The engine note is punchey and raw but it doesn’t sound exactly pleasing. Wind it out and the tone begins to feel monotonous, lacking that crescendo of ferocity found in its competitors. What it lacks in sonic euphoria it makes up for in agility, seemingly in defiance of its 1,889 kg curb weight.
Thanks to a quick ratio steering rack, the Stinger feels like it has the ability to turn on a dime. The suspension is well damped too, offering a firm but compliant ride. Keep on the throttle and you’ll begin to explore the limits of cohesion, and the Stinger will talk back by making its weight abundantly apparent. The AWD system works overtime to keep everything neat and tidy, and it does so admirably. As the “GT” moniker implies, the Stinger has been tuned to be more of a highway cruise missile than a weekend track warrior - it is happiest at eight-tenths of its capabilities.
Kia falls under Hyundai’s corporate umbrella and that means a lot of the tech in this vehicle is shared with the Genesis brand. In this instance, the entire driveline and chassis is shared with its sister vehicle, the Genesis G70. On paper at least, it appears like the G70 may be the sedan to choose for a more performance oriented experience. The Stinger however finds itself in a sweet spot of driving nirvana, delivering a comfortable cabin, solid road manners, and a knock-out driving experience. At an as-tested price of $49,995 fully loaded with all the bells and whistles, we still find it hard to believe that this is a Kia. On the flip side, asking nearly $50,000 for a Kia is a tough sell, and this dichotomy of buyer perceptions will perhaps be their toughest challenge. Be that as it may, I think once buyers shop around and analyze the price tag of a similarly equipped BMW 440i Gran Coupe or Audi S4, they will begin to see the light.
型号 Model: 2018 Kia Stinger GT AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Aurora Black
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $44,195
試車售價 Price as Tested: $44,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,905
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,830 / 1,870 / 1,400
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,889
引擎 Engine: 3.3-litre twin-turbo GDI V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 365 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 12.7 / 9.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.3