Road Test: 2018 Kia Stinger GT2

We’re huge fans of the Stinger, and for good reason. As we said during our First Drive, the Stinger is unlike any other Kia ever produced. But it’s not what it isn’t that gets us, it’s all the things that it does right that makes us never want to leave the driver’s seat.

The body is sexy and perfectly proportioned. The tire to fender gap is perfect, especially with the GT2’s 19″ tire and wheel package. There’s no futuristic sharp creases in the metal, or a massive “I’m going to eat you” grille. The Stinger is simply being itself and not something it is not.

Ducts in the front bumper channel air to cool the brake rotors and then allow it to exist out of the fender behind the wheel. Every light fixture features LED lighting, and we especially like the honeycomb styled amber turn signal inside the headlights. Details like that make the Stinger unique.

Under the hood, a 3.3L V6 engine produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, routing it to all wheels with a rear bias split. The smooth 8-speed is a quick shifter, with fast response from the paddle shifters when commanded.

Steering feel is perfectly weighted in “comfort” mode, but with the spin of the drive mode dial to “sport”, the Stinger feels like it’s ready to pounce. It’s much more responsive in every respect. The Brembo brakes do a superb job of bringing the car to a stop with confidence.

EPA ratings are 19 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined and we averaged just above the combined rating at 22.4 mpg after a week of mixed driving.

In day to day driving, the interior is comfortable and functional. The hatchback cargo area allows large things to be brought in, and the fold-down seats increase versatility.

The red interior makes the Stinger feel extra sporty, especially with the multiple powder adjustments on the driver’s seat, including inflatable side bolsters and thigh extension. The bolsters release their grasp after key-off; very cool.

Cooled and heated Nappa leather seating and a well laid out dash with real knobs and buttons makes the Stinger safer to drive.

The Harmon/Kardon audio system has tons of punch and adds to the luxurious feel of the Stinger interior with intricately designed metal speaker covers in the doors. Apple CarPlay works great and we’re glad Kia offers it in addition to the built-in infotainment and navigation system.

Colorful ambient lighting at night adds to the ambiance and the LED headlights do a superb job of illuminating the roadway. Auto high-beams respond quickly.

Overhead, a massive panoramic roof where the front half slides back helps offset the close headliner. It allows light to fill the cabin and is perfect for evening joy rides or the long way home after work.

Rear seating is best for 2 adults, as the large center floor hump from the rear drive axle impedes leg room.

In the area of driver safety and assistance systems, Kia knocks it out of the park. The Stinger offers a variety of systems, and allows the driver to adjust the sensitivity of most of them to suit their tastes. We especially like being able to adjust how responsive the adaptive cruise control can be.

Lane keep assist works exceptionally well and smoothly guides the Stinger through turns with a feather touch on the steering wheel.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 8
Noise 9
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 8
Visibility 6
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 9
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  91


Make: Kia
Model: Stinger
Trim Level: GT2
Engine: 3.3L V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: None

Base Price: $51,400
As-Tested Price: $52,300

 

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