Mixed Bag: 2018 Kia Stinger GT2

The Kia Stinger has received more press than any other car in recent memory. After all, how often does a brand decide to develop and launch a sport sedan? Most of it has been good, and we were excited to experience the new performance Kia first hand. We had a week with the rear wheel drive Kia Stinger GT2 just to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Kia Stinger GT 1

Let’s start with the design. Kia has done a phenomenal job with this new sedan until you get all the way down to the reflectors that stretch into the rear fenders from the taillights. It’s a bit odd and stands out much more in models that aren’t red like our tester. The only other head scratcher comes from the fake hood vents. Everything else is excellent and the car really turns heads. Inside the Stinger is uses high quality materials and soft touch plastics, with only minor parts of the lower door bins and under dashboard spoiling the luxury feel. The air vents and infotainment screen are reminiscent of Mercedes in their shape and positioning. From a driver’s perspective, the seating position is low, the steering wheel is very adjustable, and you always feel like you’re sitting in a sportscar.

Speaking of being in a sportscar, that’s just what the Stinger feels like…some of the time. Obviously it’s more of a sport sedan, but you can’t always tell that from behind the wheel. We didn’t test the limits here, but a nice 70-80% drive is where the Stinger finds itself most at home. The steering isn’t the most precise, but you have a good idea of how the car is behaving. Our model was the rear wheel drive variant, which gives you the limited slip differential and Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires. The suspension was supremely damped, and coped with bumps and off camber corners excellently. Our example was in need of new brakes, but the Brembos stopped the car with no trouble. The transmission was a little slow when shifting yourself, so we left it to its own devices and it worked fine. It is certainly no dual clutch unit, or even the best from ZF. It does not help to mitigate the turbo lag either, with the occasional upshift in faster driving situations.

Kia Stinger GT 3

The engine in the Stinger is familiar us; the same 3.3L turbocharged V6 we recently tested in the Genesis G80 Sport. Obviously these two stablemates share quite a bit, but the Stinger felt more precise, more over the top, and definitely more aggressive in every dynamic measurement. The V6 has a rumble inside the cabin that flows from the speakers, but it makes almost no noise from the quad exhaust tips other than on startup. On a positive note, the Sport drive mode feels drastically different than the normal setting. This isn’t the case with most brands, and certainly many Kia models. But pop the Stinger into Sport and the sensations are heightened.

Kia Stinger GT 4

Overall the Kia Stinger GT has some great points and is deserving of its praise. However, the week with the Stinger left me a little underwhelmed by the experience. The exhaust is missing any character, and the V6, although potent, is a bit lackluster in its application. I used it as my commuter car for the week, and I think that’s where its best fit in. It can carve a backroad on the ride home from work, but you’re not going to go chasing lap times like the commercials suggest. If you’re fine with that, then the Stinger is a great value proposition at its $50,000 asking price. Just don’t come crying to us if you think it’s nothing more than a mixed bag, and there’s more orange flavor as opposed to cherry.

-Scott Villeneuve

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD V6
Destination Charges $900
As Tested MSRP $50,100

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