2018 Kia Stinger GT quick review

By Dylan Campbell, 03 Jul 2017 Car Reviews

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2018 Kia Stinger GT quick review

Kia finally allows us behind the wheel of its much-hyped rear-drive hero, the Stinger, at the daunting Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Kia finally allows us behind the wheel of its much-hyped, rear-drive hero around the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife to see if the promises haven been delivered.

TELL ME ABOUT THE CAR

A spacious, four-door Kia sedan that will power oversteer. A Kia with a nicer interior than most Volkswagens. A Kia that doesn’t turn into a smoking wreck after a half-dozen corners on a racetrack – a Kia you might actually want to take for a drive. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

For many this is a car that will absolutely be what the doctor ordered to soothe the anguish of losing our much-loved locals. With 272kW/510Nm, rear-wheel drive and a mechanical limited slip differential in a big, four-door sedan, you bet this is a car that Australians will feel very familiar with, warm to quickly and find easy to like.

Sadly, our time with the Kia Stinger GT was frustratingly brief (just one lap of the track and no on-road driving), but it was enough to notice that this game-changing Kia is fast and powerful.

STRENGTHS

  • Kia claims 0-100km/h in a launch-control assisted 4.9 seconds, with its 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 sending power through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic to wide, 255-section Continental ContiSportContact 5 tyres.
  • It has cutting-edge chassis electronics that very much work with the car’s power and rear-drive layout, rather than against it. The Stinger GT is a fun car to drive fast.
  • A special Australianised suspension tune will be unique to our market, as the version we drove was much more ‘grand tourer’ despite being developed at the ’Ring. Kia Australia wants to make it more of a corner-carver than a long-distance cruiser.

  • With 350mm four-pot Brembo front brakes, 19-inch wheels and wide tyres, it drives a lot like a twin-turbo V6 SS Commodore and is incredibly stable at high speeds.
  • It’s an aggressive, yet handsomely styled car in the metal, showing off intent with big 19-inch wheels, bonnet vents, quad exhaust pipes, assertive front bar and a fastback roofline.
  • The interior is mature and high-end with brushed aluminium, Nappa leather, a chunky steering wheel, as well as expensive-feeling materials everywhere – including Alcantara-style microsuede on the A-pillars. It’s spacious and feels more German than Korean with only one GT badge to be seen.

WEAKNESSES

  • For a car with sporting pretensions, it feels far more like a grand tourer than a performance car. It lacks a little raw emotion and is somewhat unsatisfying in the noise department.
  • If you’re used to a V8-engined Commodore, you might not like the way it sounds – at least for the overseas model we drove. There’s an ‘interesting’ V6 growl (which is actually artificially produced through the speakers), but from the outside it can come across as thrashy and dull. That said, we are getting an Australian-specific bi-modal exhaust.

  • The big Brembo brakes started to fade by the end of a lap of the Nurburgring and it isn’t really a car you’d pine to take to a racetrack.
  • The eight-speed auto is responsive, but is geared more like a six-speed with two overdrive top gears. It will also, frustratingly, deny a lower gear under hard braking with no dedicated, hardcore manual mode.
  • The seats are comfortable, but not fit for performance driving and despite adjustable bolsters, don’t offer enough support when the red mist descends.

ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?

The Kia Stinger GT is, in many ways, a competitor for our Aussie-built, and performance-orientated four-door sedans like the Holden Commodore SS – at least that’s what Kia wants you to believe. If you’re after something Euro-based for comparison, then a Skoda Superb 206TSI 4x4 or Volkswagen Passat 206 TSI are worth a look.