It’s clear from the get-go. The Kia Stinger is a game changer. It’s a game changer for the consumer who wants an affordable performance sedan that delivers. But it’s clear that it’s also a game changer for Kia as evidenced by the commentary given by Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer for Kia Motors Corporation.
As the GT concept, introduced in Frankfurt in 2011, it was more of a pipe dream, but as Peter put it to Motor Trend:
To not just make a normal sedan, but to make a sport sedan like this is, in a way, a challenge to Koreans. But it was great the way it went because it kept going, and nobody said no.
Sometimes it’s not about greenlighting a project and saying yes. It’s about not finding a good enough reason to say no.
And with that the evolution of the Kia Stinger was born and will soon arrive in dealerships. But who’s going to buy the Kia Stinger? Well, if money and necessity weren’t factors, you’d find me in line. After spending a long California day getting to know the Stinger intimately, I’m sold on this concept and if marketing plays its cards right, the Stinger could become a new American driving icon.
When talking about American performance cars, the brand becomes a backseat passenger. We talk about the Mustang, the Camaro, the Corvette and the brand name is either irrelevant or implied. When talking about foreign performance cars, it’s the brand that usually takes center stage: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche.
Let’s face it. Kia is not a name that is synonymous with performance. But the Stinger very well could be.
Introducing the Kia Stinger
A few facts about the car:
- It’s proportioned like a true GT, or Gran Turismo, known as “a performance and luxury automobile capable of high speed and long-distance driving.” Long hood, short front overhang, long rear overhang, long wheelbase, broad shoulder, fastback profile
- The interior, with its aircraft-inspired cockpit, boasts high quality materials, including a hand-stitched steering wheel, and metal accents
- Leather seating is designed for both touring and performance – you’ll find adequate lumbar support and width-adjusting side bolster and seat extension
- Technology is as important in the car as it is out, as evidenced by the dual-underseat mounted subwoofers (part of a custom harman/kardon design for the Stinger), Clari-fi digital music restoration technology, UVO3 infotainment system, and safety features like a head up display
Yes, it looks pretty both inside and out. But this car was built for performance and the biggest question you must have is… does it deliver?
Before I made it out to California for my one day driving experience, the Kia Stinger was put to the test. In fact, it’s undergone nearly one million miles of testing around the world including 6000 miles of driving on the Nürburgring (a Grand Prix racetrack in Germany), braking high in the Austrian Alps, winter testing near the Arctic Circle in Sweden, and extensive validation at the California Proving Grounds.
Most of my friends, however, spend their time on highways, byways, and short runs to Home Depot. Would this performance car make sense in the suburban driveway?
Driving the Kia Stinger
When I paired up with my driving partner, Meagan, I got behind the wheel first. Once we headed out of Burbank and merged onto the California highway, I could feel what this car was made of. As an every day driver, I forget what power and performance feel like. I wasn’t on a track. I was simply merging into traffic and I had no fear. It makes sense when you realize the Stinger GT Twin Turbo V6 (which is what I was driving) can move from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds.
Then we headed into the twisting and turning roads of Southern California where we stopped for a few vistas. The stops were meant to be short as we really just wanted to keep driving but the Stinger turned heads and brought out the lookie-loos.
After a few death-defying straightaways and some potentially nausea-inducing roads, we headed to a pseudo-track that had been set up by Kia in the parking lot of Magic Mountain. The irony wasn’t lost on me as I got out and glanced up at the thrill rides that were in view. But we were there for a different kind of thrill ride.
The autocross course included a long straight path to test out the 0-60 speeds and then a ridiculously curvy course to test the handling. I was not the fastest driver nor the most proficient but I could confirm that this car is capable. But compared to what?
At the autocross, Kia brought some of its top competitors for us to drive and compare. This included an Audi S5 SB, Infiniti Q50, BMW 440i GC, and the Porsche Panamera. A couple of times around the track had me feeling a bit nauseous so I asked for some advice on which car would make the fairest comparison. The answer was the true rear-wheel drive fastback of the group – the Porsche Panamera.
I’m not going to lie and tell you the Porsche wasn’t a fantastic car. But it felt a lot heavier than the Stinger which, in turn, made it feel a bit slower. I preferred the way the Porsche handled the curves but I think that was more a personal preference than a reflection of capability.
And did I mention that the Stinger is faster and cheaper than a Porsche Panamera? The fact that the Kia Stinger and a Porsche are in the same conversation is remarkable in and of itself.
Buying the Kia Stinger
Here’s how it breaks down. The Kia Stinger is available in five trims: Standard, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. It starts at $31,900 and prices up to $49,200. There is an option for a rear-biased AWD for an additional $2200.
The car you see here is the Kia Stinger GT2, which means it has almost every option available, including that twin turbo V6 and Brembo brakes. Although the spec sheet is impressive for every model of the Stinger, I think this car was meant to be sold as a GT. I might be a little biased though, especially when it comes to a great name like Stinger.
Want to see the Kia Stinger in action? Check out my First Glimpse video and let me know what questions you have.