Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2018 Kia Stinger – confusingly, this isn’t the production version of the stunning GT4 Stinger two-door sports car concept from Detroit 2014, but rather the long-awaited road-going manifestation of the four-door, rear-wheel drive Kia GT show car.
Despite the near six years since the original made its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Stinger retains quite a bit of its design DNA, although some of the details have moved on a bit. At the front, sharp headlights flank the “tiger nose” grille, but the scoops that pierce through the lamp units on the concept have been made much smaller and simpler.
Moving to the side, the long bonnet and cab-backward profile betray the Stinger’s front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout, although the complex Optima-esque C-pillar and rear windscreen intersection means that the car is still recognisably a Kia. The front fender vents actually work to improve aerodynamics in concert with the front air curtains.
A wide front and rear track further emphasises the car’s strong shoulder line, with 18- or 19-inch wheels hiding standard ventilated Brembo disc brakes. At the rear, the LED tail lights with slim extensions that wrap around the sides have been retained from the concept, although the rear diffuser has been made more complex and features quad exhaust exits.
Inside, there’s a simple, driver-oriented dashboard with Audi-style triple round centre air vents, a freestanding centre display up top and a tall transmission tunnel. A thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel sits ahead of large analogue gauges, with a colour display in the middle showing information such as cornering G-forces, lap times and engine oil temperature. The seats feature optional Nappa leather and inflatable bladders in the driver’s backrest and side bolsters for improved comfort and support.
As standard, the Stinger comes with six speakers and a seven-inch haptic touchscreen UVO infotainment system, while higher-end models get a nine-speaker system with an external amplifier; a 15-speaker, 720 W Harmon Kardon sound system is optional. Also available is a head-up display and a wireless smartphone charging pad in the centre console.
Safety-wise, the car comes with Forward Collision Assistance (FCA) with autonomous emergency braking, Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), plus a Kia-first Driver Attention Alert (DAA) system.
Measuring 4,831 mm long and 1,869 mm wide, the Stinger is longer and wider than competitors such as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A4, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50, and its 2,905 mm wheelbase is longer than even the Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz CLS. The chassis uses 55% advanced high-strength steel, contributing to better ride and handling and reduced NVH.
Suspension is taken care of by MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, and the car is also available with the company’s first electronic adjustable dampers called Dynamic Stability Damping Control. There are five drive modes – another Kia first – including Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart. A rack-mounted electric power steering system enhances steering response and reduces unwanted vibration.
Two engines are available for the Stinger – the first is a 2.0 litre Theta II turbo four-cylinder that produces an estimated 255 hp at 6,200 rpm and 353 Nm of torque from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm. Slotting above it is the 3.3 litre Lambda II twin-turbo V6, tipped to produce 365 hp at 6,000 rpm and 510 Nm from 1,300 to 4,500 rpm. Kia targets a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 5.1 seconds and a 269 km/h top speed with the latter.
The sole transmission option is an eight-speed automatic transmission from the K9, with paddle shifters and Kia’s first Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter to help reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain. Buyers have a choice between rear-wheel drive (with a standard mechanical limited-slip differential) and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system with brake-operated Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control.