2018 Kia Stinger GT2
Back in the day, when General Motors was King, Chevrolet was their bread and butter brand while Pontiac was “where the action was.” At the Hyundai Group, we think it’s appropriate to consider Hyundai Motors in the Chevrolet role while Kia is “where the action is,” as seen with their new 2018 Kia Stinger GT2. Why, the action is so here that even Steven Tyler and Emerson Fittipaldi are interested!
The Upselling of an image.
As has been mentioned more than 10,000 times on the Internet already, the Kia Stinger GT2 is based on the Kia GT concept car that debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Impressed for sure, it merely showed some ideas that were bouncing around the design studio. Jet forward seven years and what we actually got Instead looks like a huffed-up version of the Kia Optima, with a steroid supplier on speed dial.
With a Kia Optima parked side-by-side with our Stinger tester, it is clear that they only share a passing familial resemblance, which included the familiar tiger-nose treatment at the grille. While the Optima is a front drive vehicle, the Stinger is a rear- or all-wheel-drive (AWD) Grand Touring machine. Oh, did we mention it has a liftback? So right from the get-go it’s the anti-SUV.
Walking around the vehicle, we notice the wide under-bumper intake for the intercooler flanked by vertical intakes for the air curtains to help trim the airflow over the front wheel wells. There is a lot of detail to like in the LED headlight area which leads to a character line stretching from the front to the rear, ending at the slightly upturned spoiler/deck/trunk lid. There are interesting doo-dads throughout, but we think the side gills tend to fussy things up, where they don’t need fussying up. Along the way, we notice design inspiration from vehicles like the Audi A5, BMWs 4series Gran Sport and even the Jaguar XF sedan.
The 2018 Kia Stinger is available in five trim levels starting with Base, Premium, GT, GT1 and highline GT2 models. Of course, we lucked out with the GT2 version (cue the smug grin). We loved the Hichroma Red metallic paint which set off our black Nappa Leather interior nicely.
The interior trim was a step up over anything we have seen in Kias past, and although it looked as though lifted from the interior of an early 2000-era Mercedes Benz sedan, it was nice but not ostentatious.
Being the GT2, that meant that the Stinger was dripping with every possible option from the Kia parts bin including the 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 engine that produced 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. That engine, which it shares with the new Hyundai G70, seemed perfectly matched to this five-door, five-passenger Grand Touring sedan that somehow managed to tip the scales at nearly 4000 pounds.
Under the hood.
Although the Stinger’s base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, twin scroll turbo engine producing 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Stinger really cries out for the 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 that was in our tester. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our GT2 was equipped with an electronically controlled suspension which adapted on the fly to a specified a drive mode which included Smart, Eco, Comfort and Sport along with custom, which allowed you to pick one from column A, one from column B and so on.
The View from others.
It seemed that the general public got the advanced notice that the Kia Stinger GT2 would be arriving soon. Perhaps that’s why we had so many comments from onlookers, enthusiasts, car salesmen and just regular man on the street types who usually were heard to utter, “that’s a Kia?” We’d nod yes, and acknowledge their polite thumbs up signal with a quick wave before we were off.
Behind the wheel.
Hoofing away from a stoplight had us suddenly pushed back into the adjustable bolstered seats that managed to keep us settled as the skinny pedal unleashed the 365 horses up front. Power continued to pour out from the twin turbo V6, accompanied by a lusty brrrrrrrrrrrrrp from the quad pipes out back. This was like no other Kia we have ever driven.
Stepping into the sport mode found the Stinger holding tight through the turns in a way that almost brought a flashback of what it was truly like to driver a real rear wheel car. Oh, how we miss that! The steering was firm but not overly so, which made us feel as though we were in control at every moment. Kudos, too, to the paddle shift levers that control the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Stinger felt planted, allowing us to apply power whenever we wanted. When we tired of driving in anger, or when the spousal unit told us to quit hooning and cool it, we were just satisfied to absorb the quietness that came from a well-designed and insulated interior.
From the moment we got into the Stinger, it was clear that we were settling into something special. It was a way of showing that the brand had finally arrived. Many years ago, Kia was what you could charitably call a brand of last resort. Somewhere along the way, a “come to Jesus” moment happened in Seoul, with someone saying “we are done being the laughing stock of the automotive industry.”
The result was transformational, and through the stewardship of such industry “lumineers” like Kia president and chief designer, Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Europe designer Gregory Guillaume, performance maestro Albert Biermann and numerous others, it is very clear we are not talking about the same company.
2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD V6
Story and photo by Mark Elias
Base MSRP: $49,200. As tested: $50,100
No options, includes $900 destination fee.
Kia Stinger GT2 Key Specs
Power: 365 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1300-4500 rpm
Fuel System: Gas Direct Injection
Fuel: Premium recommended
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds
Drive Type: RWD
Gearbox: 8-speed Automatic with paddle shift levers
Tire Size: 225/40R19 front, 225/35R19 rear
Unladen Weight: 4,023-pounds
Cargo Volume: 23.3 cu/ft seat up, 40.9 cu/ft seat down