2018 Kia Stinger: Dynamic New Sports Car Combines Athleticism and Luxury

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kia has come a long way. It began life in December 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a Korean manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, eventually producing Korea's first domestic bicycle, the Samchully, in 1951. A year later, the company changed its name to Kia, which translates to “to come out of the East.” Moving on to motorcycles and trucks, Kia began selling cars in 1974, and when it first made a splash in America on 1994, the brand gained a rep as builders of “econboxes.”

Those days are long gone, as Kia mainstreamed with sporty 5-door hatchbacks, trendy multipurpose vehicles, hybrids, sedans and minvans, and moved on to entry luxury vehicles. And with the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger, the manufacturer has entered the mid-size luxury four-door sports car segment debuting an athletic, bold, adventurous performance car with luxurious accommodations.

From its sleek front clip through its graceful sides and slender shoulders, Stinger exudes a muscular confidence. Its raked windshield, shorter front and long rear overhang and aerodynamic features help Stinger achieve an air of elegant athleticism. Featuring a fastback roofline and large hatch, Stinger’s sculpted steel unibody construction is packaged on a 114.4-inch wheelbase that accommodates its 190.2-inch length, 55.1-inch height and 73.6-inch width. RWD versions weigh in at 3839 lbs. and AWD Stingers have a curbweight of 4023 lbs.

The low-slung cabin with its steeply raked windshield and backlight sits toward the rear of the vehicle, creating a fast silhouette. Inside is a space dedicated to the driver’s experience while pampering the occupants with luxury. Typically a high-cost option on most competitors, all Stingers come standard with a leather-appointed interior. Available ultra-soft Nappa leather covers the deeply contoured seats and the driver’s seat has available air-cell bladders in the seatback and width-adjusting bolsters for optimal support and comfort.

Inside, Stinger exudes an aircraft-like feel filled with upscale accouterments, connectivity, and infotainment. And its available height-adjustable color Head-Up Display enables the driver to see driving information projected on the windshield glass. This includes speed, turn-by-turn navigation, audio and cruise control settings and Blind Spot Detection information. Bluetooth®18 hands-free operation is standard, while many of the vehicle’s subsystems may be accessed through the steering-wheel-mounted controls.

Roomy, yet comfortably cozy, Stinger offers 38.3 inches of front headroom with 37.0 inches in row two; 42.6 inches of legroom in row one with 36.4 inches in the second seats, and shoulder room of 56.4 and 54.8.

Powerwise, Stinger is offered with two engine choices: a 2.0-liter Twin Scroll turbo-four rated at 255 hp and 260 lbs-ft of torque, and 21 mpg/city and 29 mpg/highway for AWD; and a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 365 hp and 376 lbs-ft. rated at 19mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Both engines are paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

My test Stinger GT2 and its 3.3-liter averaged 22.0mpg in mixed-use driving, and exhibited solid sportscar exuberance, acceleration and handling. On the track, a zero-to-60mph run was blazed in 4.7 seconds and it seemed faster than that, en route to a 13.2-second quarter-mile. In traffic, Stinger slices in and out of competition with ease. Rack and Pinion / Electric motor steering is attentive and body motion is controlled. The MacPherson front suspension and Multi-link (5-link) rear with gas or electric shocks soften the ride for passengers while giving the driver just enough feel for the road.

Regarding safety, a Kia first is the new Driver Attention Warning system to help combat distracted or drowsy driving. The system monitors a number of inputs from the vehicle and the driver and will sound a warning chime and display a graphic in the instrument binnacle that it’s time to take a break from driving if it senses the driver’s attention level has been significantly reduced.

Stinger is also outfitted with Dual Front Advanced Airbags, Dual Front Seat Mounted Side Airbags, Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags, Driver's Side Knee Airbag and such safety features as Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian detection, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Anti-Lock Braking System, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Brake Fade Compensation, Cornering Brake Control, Electronic Stability Control

The Kia Stinger 2.0L starts at $31,900 with RWD – AWD is $2200 extra -- and comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters, Smart Power Trunk, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather seat trim and heated front seat. The Premium trim starts at $37,100 adding a sunroof, Navigation System, 8-inch touchscreen color display and Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic Premium Audio. The Stinger GT bases at $38,350, with the 3.3-liter V-6 Twin Turbo engine, LED Headlamps, 19-inch alloy wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport Summer tires, Brembo Brakes and 9-Speaker Audio System. The GT1 starts at $43,250 and my test GT2 (top of the line), based at $49,200 and added Kia Drive Wise (Advanced Driver Assistance System), Shift-by-Wire, Nappa leather trim and a Head-Up Display. AWD increased the price by $2200. A cargo mat in the trunk added $125, mud guards were $95, puddle lights under the vehicle added $240 and remote start was $495. With destination charges of $900, my test 2018 Kia Stinger G2 stickered at $53,255.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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