LOS ANGELES, California — It’s hard to get noticed in LA. If you’re looking to get looked at, it helps to drive a sexy car few people have seen on the road. The 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD, penned by legendary designer Peter Schreyer, is a driver’s best bet at getting attention this side of a supercar.
During my time in the new fastback from Korea, I watched heads turn and follow the car as I passed in a parking lot and got loads of remarks from onlookers as I got in or out. A Chrysler 300 driver nearly pressed his face against his window trying to get a better look at our HiChroma Red tester. Given its undeniable star power in the looks department, it was time to see if the Stinger has the substance to back up its style.
After logging several hundred miles on the odometer, I came to appreciate the Stinger as a capable sports sedan with proper touring car clout. It’s fast. Really fast. Hitting freeway speeds is no problem and our tester was all too eager to get up to speed.
Our 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD sat at the top of the hierarchy in fully packaged and optioned form. It packs a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 producing 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. It’ll hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.7 seconds, as stated by Kia, and it feels about that quick to my ever-recalibrating butt dyno. Top speed is an estimated 167 mph.
While the Stinger is a certifiable freeway warrior, it does yield to some body roll in the corners. Once the roll settles during the turn, the car doesn’t wallow back and feels planted and predictable. Kia offers five drive settings on a dial in the cockpit, from Eco to Sport.
For aggressive street driving, I found Individual to be the Goldilocks setting. The highly configurable mode allows for the steering, suspension, throttle, and transmission to be adjusted. I felt the steering in Sport mode to be unnaturally heavy, so after adjusting that setting to comfort, I found our tester to be an incredibly enjoyable drive. With a rear-wheel drive setup, I’m betting the Stinger feels even more eager to play.
Packaging is highly practical despite the vehicle’s sporty form. The powered lift gate opens wide to a large trunk that can swallow a respectable 23.3 cu. ft. of cargo with the seats up and 40.9 cu.ft. when the 40/60 split seats are laid flat. I sat in the rear while a coworker drove and had plenty of head room even with the sloping roofline. It’s well-sorted to be a do-anything daily driver.
The interior features materials that feel durable without being sumptuously luxurious, leaving a healthy divide between it and its Genesis siblings. Our GT2 spec had both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, part of the lesser GT1 variant and also included in our car, are accessible through a responsive 8-inch touchscreen display. A high-quality 15-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system handles the sound. The heated and cooled front seats are also a welcome addition to the two-zone climate control.
The ADAS package, Kia’s safety suite, is stuffed with helpful assists like blind spot detection, forward collision warning and assistance, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. The systems were present but were never intrusive during my time with the car, allowing for the Stinger to remain a solid choice for the engaged driver.
Part of the Stinger’s appeal is its value proposition. Our top-spec variant maxed out at $52,300, including destination. Kia presented us its competition on a platter as part of its press materials: the Audi S5 starts at $42,600, the 2018 BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe at $48,300 and the 2017 Infiniti Q50 3.0L V6 at $40,650. The base Stinger is just $32,800 and the base Stinger GT is $39,250. No matter how you cut it, that’s a good deal.
It is important to also take stock of how good of a car it is aside from its excellent price point. It marks a turning point for the Korean manufacturer. Up to this point, I found my coworkers and myself saying “that’s good for a Kia” after hopping out of the most recent iterations of the Forte 5, the Niro, or any of the brand’s other models we’ve driven in our short-term fleet. The Stinger is just a good car in no need of qualification. It also doesn’t hurt that it gets noticed in a city of stars.
|2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD Specifications|
|PRICE||$32,800/$52,300 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||3.3L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6/365 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 376 lb-ft @ 1,300 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||19/25 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||190.2 x 73.6 x 55.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||167 mph|
Photos by Darren Martin.