Things we like
- V6s performance
Not so much
- Soft exhaust note, mismatched ride on adaptive dampers
- Gauche styling
What stands out?The Kia Stinger is a stylish and very well equipped four-door sports sedan with a sleek coupe-like roofline. It comes with a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo or 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engines, with the latter providing impressive performance. It has a sophisticated and spacious cabin that’s comfortable for long-distance cruising. Automatic emergency braking is standard across the range
What might bug me?The groan from taller passengers as they duck beneath the low, sweeping roofline to get into the rear seats.
The disappointment caused by the V6 engine’s meek engine and exhaust note when you put the foot down. There is an optional sports exhaust, but this creates the opposite extreme of being too loud when you're not revving hard. The only way to make it quieter is to select Eco drive mode.
Suddenly not being able to see properly at night because the auto-dipping headlights can go from blazing main beam to candle-power on deserted country roads.
Not being able to see through the rear window when it rains. Despite technically being a hatchback, the Stinger has now rear wiper.
No longer being able to choose a mid-spec Stinger Si, which bridged the price and equipment gap between the S and GT-Line/GT versions and had the smoother standard suspension, making it the sweet spot of the range.
What body styles are there?Five-door liftback sedan only. The Kia Stinger drives its rear wheels and is classed as a large car, lower priced.
What features do all Stingers have?Satellite navigation, displayed on a colour central touchscreen that also controls cabin functions.
A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.
Advanced driver assistance technology including autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning system, front parking sensors, a lane keeping assist and driver attention alert. (For more on these systems, please open the Safety section below.)
An MP3-compatible sound system with an AM/FM/Digital (DAB+) radio, auxiliary and USB inputs, Bluetooth audio connectivity, and at least six speakers.
Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display some smartphone apps and maps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice).
Electric folding and heated door mirrors with side indicators and puddle lamps, and an auto-dimming rear-vision mirror.
Keyless entry and start.
Auto levelling headlights that can turn on automatically when it gets dark, LED daytime running lights, and LED rear brake and tail lights.
Dual-zone climate control, which allows you to set different temperatures for either side of the cabin. Air-conditioning vents for rear-seat passengers.
Two 12-volt power sockets, and two USB phone charging sockets. A driver’s seat with eight-way power-adjustable lumbar (lower back) support, and power-adjustable front passenger seat.
Cruise control, which is operated from the steering wheel along with the audio system and your phone.
Wheels made from aluminium alloy (which look nicer than steel wheels and are lighter).
Eight-speed automatic transmission, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel that allow the driver to electronically control gear shifting.
Seven airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help you recover from a skid and is mandatory on new cars. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Stinger safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
The Stinger comes with Kia’s industry-leading seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Two petrol engines are available in the Stinger: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and a significantly more powerful, 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6.
The 2.0-litre is marginally the more fuel-efficient, using 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the official test (city and country combined).
The main reason you would not choose it is that you want more fun from your Stinger, which is what the car is about. The V6 has significantly more power, accelerates faster and is far more entertaining to drive. It’s a bit thirstier, with an official fuel use figure of 10.2L/100km.
The 2.0-litre engine experiences turbo lag, which means there’s a slight hesitation when you push the accelerator from a standing start as the turbo starts spinning to provide additional power. But once you get going, acceleration between gears is good.
The six-cylinder Stinger 330Si averaged 11.6L/100km in comparison testing for the December 2017 edition of Wheels – between the accompanying 2.0-litre turbo Volkswagen Arteon (10.1L/100km) and the 6.3-litre V8-engined Holden Commodore SS-V Redline (14.7L/100km).
Every Stinger drives its rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
What key features do I get if I spend more?The Stinger comes in two model grades, S, and GT (known as GT-Line in the top-spec 2.0-litre variant). The S is with the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo or the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6, (200S and 330S) while the GT-Line is a 2.0-litre turbo version of the V6-engined GT. The V6 version of each specification is the more expensive.
The least expensive S models come with cloth seats and 18-inch alloy wheels, 7.0-inch infotainment screen and all of the features common to all Stingers mentioned above.
Equipment levels spike when you move to GT-Line and GT models, including additional driver assistance technology in the form of blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert. Ride and handling is enhanced with the addition of dynamic stability damping control, which adjust the suspension to suit road conditions.
Advanced smart cruise control that keeps a safe distance from the car in front even in stop-start traffic, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, and front parking sensors.
Parking is made easier and safer thanks to a 360-degree surround-view camera that shows a simulated top-down view of the car to help avoid obstacles.
The headlights are longer-lasting LED and feature automated high-beam dipping, and dynamic light bending to help you see into corners as you turn.
The GT-Line and GT also have bigger 19-inch alloy wheels that are wider at the back than the ones used on the front, with lower-profile tyres for a sportier look and improved handling.
They also feature a powered sunroof, while inside, the powered driver’s seat gains four-way lumber support for your lower back and two seat position memory settings. Both front seats can be heated or ventilated. The leather-trimmed seats have GT-Line/GT logos, with the V6 GT’s trimmed with more expensive Nappa hide.
And music lovers will appreciate the 15-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system that includes two under-seat subwoofers powered by an external amplifier.
Does any upgrade have a down side?The range-topping GT’s active suspension has drawn criticism for being too soft on its Comfort setting, and too harsh on its harder-riding Sport mode.
How comfortable is the Stinger?The Kia Stinger is a well sorted grand tourer, able to eat up long-distance travel with relative ease and little effort.
The front sports seats are heavily bolstered, but are comfortable and hug the driver and front-seat passenger in tight when used as a sports car.
Once inside, the Stinger’s ergonomics are good, with a well laid-out dash behind an adjustable steering wheel. The instruments and multimedia display are clear and easy to read. There’s a dash of style, too, via three jet turbine-look air vents set below the high-mounted multimedia interface’s touchscreen.
The quality of the materials is good for a Kia, with soft-touch surfaces and interesting textures almost everywhere a hand or elbow falls. As a plus, the passenger’s seat includes height adjustment on all variants.
The view is a little sombre out of the Stinger’s back seats. There’s plenty of knee and toe room, and the outboard seats are nicely shaped and supportive. However, the falling roofline makes getting in and out of the smaller rear doors’ openings much more difficult than for the front seats.
How is life in the rear seats?The Stinger has comfortable seats but is quite narrow for a large car so you won’t have the same three-abreast comfort as say an Aussie-built Holden Commodore. Anyone who does squeeze into the middle seat will need short legs to fit them around the transmission tunnel that’s needed because this is a more traditional rear-drive car.
Two adults will find it spacious enough, although the sloping roofline can make headroom tight for taller people, particularly in the GT-Line and GT models equipped with the sunroof. It also makes getting in and out a little difficult. The small rear windows make things a little claustrophobic, not helped by the blackness of the interior.
Rear-seat passengers can plug in their devices to a 12-volt or USB socket mounted on the back of the centre console. There are rear-seat air vents in both models, map pockets on the front seatbacks, good sized door pockets, and a centre armrest.
The Stinger offers three child anchorage points as well as two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.
How safe is the Stinger?Standard safety equipment includes stability control and seven airbags. There are airbags directly in front of the driver and front passenger; two outside the driver and front passenger to protect their upper bodies from side impacts; a knee airbag to protect the driver’s knees and curtain airbags that protect the heads of front and rear occupants from side impacts.
A reversing camera is also standard.
Autonomous emergency braking, which assesses the likelihood of you driving into an obstacle is standard.
Then there is the lane-keep assist, which uses the cameras to detect lane lines on the road and automatically help you steer within them. Driver attention warning alerts if you are drifting laterally on a freeway – a sign of fatigue. And auto-on headlamps ensure you are visible at dusk.
The GT-Line and GT add blind-spot detection, which provides a visual warning in the door mirror of a vehicle in a blind-spot near one of the Optima’s rear corners, and rear cross-traffic alert, which helps you avoid bingles when reversing out of carparks or driveways – warning you if another vehicle is about to cross your path.
The Stinger’s body structure uses high-strength steel, which Kia says provides extra protection in a collision.
The Stinger received a range-wide five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rating in April 2018.
I like driving - will I enjoy the Stinger?In a word: Yes. Kia’s parent company, Hyundai, developed the Stinger’s chassis from the outset to be a fun, enjoyable drive, and local suspension tuning has taken that a step further. The rear-drive is significant in the context of the loss the Australian-built Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.
But there are different levels of enjoyment in the Stinger. The four-cylinder cars carry less weight over the front wheels and feel more nimble in spirited cornering, but the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine shared with the Kia Optima doesn’t sound that great. And turbo lag from the single turbocharger saps performance from a standing start or low revs, though this is lessened in Sport mode.
The V6 feels much more spirited and nimble and accelerates more like a V8-engined car, but without the satisfying noise. The electronically assisted steering feels better in the V6, but that’s more to do with the weight of the bigger 3.3-litre V6 over the front axle.
All Stingers have an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s the only part of the Stinger to draw negative attention as it will often switch to a higher gear too soon. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which let you control gear changes, come in handy at this point.
Despite the appeal of the GT-Line and GT’s adaptive dampers that can switch the suspension between comfort and sport modes, the Stinger seems more at home on its default dampers, cornering just as hard as the more pricey models but without being either too soft or hard.
How is the Stinger for carrying stuff?The Stinger has a 406-litre boot, which is a little tight for a large car. For more space, the rear seat has a 60-40 split fold which extends the load area to 1114L.
Where is the Stinger made?The Kia Stinger is built in South Korea.
Are there any rivals that I should consider?Other larger sedans in its price range include the Holden Commodore, Volkswagen Arteon and the Skoda Superb.
You may also want to consider medium-sized rivals offering a similar amount of interior space including the new Toyota Camry, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?The Stinger 330Si is the sweet spot in the line-up. It’s $4000 cheaper than the range-topping GT, but has the same engine and performance. It rides on the standard suspension set-up that does a much better job of all-around driving comfort than the GT’s adaptive dampers.
Are there plans to update the Stinger soon?The Kia Stinger arrived in September 2017.
In March 2018, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist were added as standard equipment to the entry-spec Stinger 200S and 330S. The lack of these features previously saw each variant gain a poor 3-Star ANCAP rating, but the update means a 5-Star rating now applies to the whole Stinger range.
Kia Australia deleted the mid-sped Stinger Si grade from the range in July 2019 for the 2020 model year, leaving just the entry-level S and GT-Line/GT.
A mid-life facelift is expected to arrive in 2020 which should see further improvements to its chassis and suspension tune.
Things we like
- V6s performance
Not so much
- Soft exhaust note, mismatched ride on adaptive dampers
- Gauche styling
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