DECEMBER 12, 2017 AT 4:40 PM BY CAR AND DRIVER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARC URBANO
The Stinger GT’s entry into the sports-sedan market marks a bold new direction for Kia, a company historically focused on value and reliability. Its GT is a first for the company, fusing the practicality of a mainstream sedan with the dynamic long-distance comfort and performance of a gran turismo car at a price lower than many luxury-brand rivals.
2018 Stinger GT2 prototype with optional features shown. Not all optional features available on all trims. Available in limited quantities in select markets.
Many people who hear the words “grand touring” in the same sentence as Kia might scoff. And the company knows it. Eddie Rayyan, Head of Product Strategy at Kia, readily admits, “We had to develop a true gran turismo without compromise to earn the respect necessary to compete against the world’s best vehicles.” He goes on: “Stinger was the most challenging product we’ve created and is a defining moment for Kia.” Anything similar wears luxury badges, so how does the Stinger GT—that’s the one powered by the 365-hp twin-turbo V-6—match up in a heady class of sports sedans that includes the entry-level Porsche Panamera, Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 340i xDrive, BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, and the Lexus GS350 F Sport?
Engine: 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6
Horsepower: 365 hp
Torque: 376 lb-ft
The Stinger’s 365 horsepower V-6 places it ahead of the BMW, Audi, and Lexus sports sedans in terms of power, but short of the 400 horses under the hood of the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. However, Stinger’s 376 lb-ft of torque leads the pack, and this shows in its off-the-line acceleration (keep reading for a 0-60 comparison). The power is harnessed by an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode. Kia also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which puts out 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque—far from modest for a base model.
0–60 mph Acceleration: 4.4 s
Top Speed: 167 mph
70–0 mph Braking Distance: 158 ft
Roadholding on 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.93 g
The Stinger GT’s power shines as it blasts to a 167-mph top speed, faster than any car in the comparison. The next highest of the cars we examined was the Audi S5 Sportback, topping out at 155 mph. The Audi, however, bests the Stinger off the line, traveling zero to sixty mph in 4.3 seconds compared to the Stinger’s 4.4 seconds. However, the Stinger catches up shortly after, tying the Audi to a 12.9-second quarter-mile and pulling ahead at higher speeds (140 mph took 22.4 seconds compared to the Audi’s 24.9 seconds). Stinger achieves its best off-the-line performance using launch control, which according to Kia is about 0.2 seconds quicker. In our testing, the rear-wheel-drive model was 0.2-second quicker than the all-wheel-drive variant.
Kia offers Brembo vented-disc brakes for the Stinger GT, and that’s a good thing. Weighing more than many of the other cars in the group, the Stinger GT needs the extra stopping power. Considering its weight, it’s that much more impressive that the Stinger stopped in the same 158 feet as the best-performing Audi S5 Sportback.
Kia designed the Stinger with its engine mounted as far back as possible to improve handling. The car’s balance, combined with the grip from its Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, deliver 0.93 g on our 300-foot diameter skidpad test. Pulling nearly 1 g is sure to deliver thrills, and it lands the Stinger’s road handling squarely within the luxury sports sedan class of cars, between the Audi S5 Sportback at the high end pulling 0.95 g and the Lexus GS350 F Sport at the low end with 0.85 g.
Size and Configuration
Car Type: 4-door hatchback
Drivetrain Layout: RWD with available AWD
Curb Weight: 4157 pounds
Wheelbase: 114.4 inches
Length: 190.2 inches
Width: 73.6 inches
Height: 55.1 inches
As noted before, the Stinger GT is on the heavy side, weighing in at 4004 pounds for the rear-drive model and 4157 for our all-wheel-drive test car. However, this weight is distributed over a long wheelbase, with 51.9 percent of the weight on the front and the rest on the rear. Stinger’s wheelbase is shorter than the BMW 640i Gran Coupe but longer than most of the cars we looked at, including the Audi S5 Sportback, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, and the Lexus GS350 F Sport. A long wheelbase tends to reinforce the gran turismo goals, increasing comfort and stability, even at higher speeds. It also contributes to the Stinger’s styling, creating a car that looks fast even when not going 167 mph.
Passenger and Cargo Room
Number of passengers: 5
Passenger Volume: 96 cubic feet
Cargo Volume: 23 cubic feet
One feature that sets the Stinger GT apart in the luxury sports sedan class is its practicality. With more combined passenger and cargo room than the other cars in this comparison, the Stinger offers not only spaciousness for its passengers but also the most cargo space. This makes the Stinger a reasonable purchase as a daily driver, able to handle trips to the store just as well as long drives in grand touring style.
Base Price: $39,250
Perhaps one of the biggest selling points for the Stinger is its value. While its engineering and performance specs justify a place among other luxury sports sedans, its price is substantially lower. Starting at just $39,250 ($40,200 for an all-wheel-drive GT), a fully loaded rear-wheel drive version can be had for $50,100. None of the other cars in this comparison beat that. Combined with an industry leading warranty* from Kia, the Stinger screams value, a word that perhaps never before applied to this class of car.
By the numbers, the Stinger deserves its gran turismo designation, and it stands poised to open that market to many more drivers. The attainability of a car that can hold its own among established luxury sports sedans while also offering practicality as a daily driver is surely a reason for excitement. Now it’s up to drivers to decide if the experience behind the wheel lives up to the specs.
Car and Driver test data from a Stinger GT with rear wheel drive using Launch Control and equipped with 19” wheels. Always drive safely and obey all traffic laws. *The Kia 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program includes various warranties and roadside assistance. Warranties include powertrain and the New Vehicle Limited Warranty (Basic). All warranties and roadside assistance are limited. See retailer for details or go to kia.com.