2018 Kia Stinger first drive review: an upscale, sporty bargain Page 3


The suspension tuning is good, though. The ride quality is firm but never harsh, even in Sport mode. Speaking of the drive modes, this system adjusts not only the suspension, but also the throttle response, transmission, all-wheel-drive system, and stability control; the other modes are Eco, Smart (which learns your behavior), and Custom, which drivers can configure.

The Stinger GT’s greatest strength is its powertrain. The twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 helps the car punch above its weight. It lets out a refined howl and vaults the car from 0-60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds. The full 376 lb-ft of torque comes on at a very low 1,300 rpm, so the punch is immediate. It works well with the 8-speed automatic transmission, especially in the Sport mode, which holds gears longer and quickens throttle response. On the track, however, the 8-speed got confused on a couple of short chutes that required full throttle application followed by hard braking, then back to full throttle. The transmission just didn't know what gear to be in and I had to wait for a beat for it to catch up on a couple of occasions. That can be remedied by using the smallish shift paddles behind the steering wheel. 

2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

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2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Enlarge Photo
2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

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Sporty, practical, and upscale

Hop in the Stinger GT and you will immediately be impressed by the quality of the cabin. Leather is standard and soft nappa leather is available. The supportive seats can be made even more supportive with optional air bladders, 16-way adjustments, and heating and ventilation. The dash is arrayed in a horizontal layout with a black wing-shaped dashboard offset by metal trim. A display in the instrument panel provides G forces and lap times, in true sporty fashion.

Plenty of amenities are available. Highlights include a head-up display; the Uvo3 infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a heated steering wheel; and a thumpin' 720-watt, 15-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system with Clari-Fi that digitally expands compressed music and QuantumLogic Surround Sound that digitally approximates surround sound.

2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Enlarge Photo
2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Enlarge Photo
2018 Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger GT

Enlarge Photo

The Stinger's hatchback body style and mid-size dimensions give it practicality, too. The back seats have good leg room for most adults and space for three across. Rear head room is generally good, but it will be limited for anyone taller than 6-feet due to the fastback roofline.

That roofline resolves into a hatch area that has 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is half again as much as the trunk of a large sedan. Fold those rear seats down and storage space expands to 40.9 cubic feet, which is almost as much as a small SUV. That makes this car far more practical that any coupe or sedan.

Bottom line

Hyundai, Kia, and now Genesis have made a few efforts at building sporty rear-drive cars. It started with the Hyundai Genesis coupe back in 2008, then expanded to the Genesis sedan (now the Genesis G80) later that year. The Kia Stinger is the next attempt (soon to be followed by the Genesis G70 sedan, which is based on the Stinger), and this one is the best yet. It gets some of the smaller details right, and this time the basic suspension setup and handling character is on the money. There is, however, more room to grow to make the Stinger a true driver's car with the feel and reactions to challenge the Germans.

For now, though, Stinger GT is fun to drive, powerful, practical, and upscale, and it all comes at a price that makes it a true bargain.

Kia paid for airfare and lodging for Internet Brand Automotive to bring you this first-hand report.


 
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