The Kia Stinger is finally in Singapore. Is it the high-performance bargain we’d all been hoping it would be?
SINGAPORE — What a way to open 2018, with a drive of the Kia Stinger, one of the most hotly-anticipated cars we can remember.
Singapore gets not one, but two Stingers: a range-topping 3.3L V6 GT and car you see here, the 2.0L GT-Line (yes, you read that right, GT-Line sits below GT).
As of now the pricing kicks off at S$166,999 with COE for the 2.0L GT-Line, and $206,999 for the 3.3L GT. Wondering if you should take the plunge?
It sure looks good…
That, it does. The Stinger looks tasty in pics but in the flesh it’s a show-stopper. The proportions — long bonnet, stretched fastback body, wide stance — really create an imposing car with plenty of presence. The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a rival, and to give you some idea of the size involved, the Stinger is 19cm longer.
The rear end flares out gently, too, to express that fact that it’s a rear-wheel drive car. That’s right, it’s a world away from the front-drive K3 or even the K5 Optima.
So it’s a drift monster? Cool!
Er, not so fast. Don’t mistake the Stinger for a BMW M4 Coupe, even if you buy the 3.3L. It’s a decently quick car, and the 2.0L gets to 100km/h in six seconds flat. That’s quicker than you’d expect of most German and Japanese cars with the same engine size, and when you want to overtake you do feel the Stinger’s 247 horses exert themselves nicely.
But it’s actually very refined on the move, with a ride quality that’s firm yet super well resolved. The engine is quiet most times, too, unless you rev the heck out of it, in which case there’s a nice, smooth twang to the sound.
Overall, though, the Stinger 2.0L is one of those cars that is athletic but good at masking how quickly it’s going.
Oh. How about the handling?
That’s excellent. The Stinger feels like it has an extremely low centre of gravity, and when you dive into bends there’s practically no body roll. That doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality, which remains civilised at all times for such a well-planted car.
The steering isn’t particularly sharp, but overall this is a car that makes fast cornering a breeze, like something set up to reassure the driver at all times. It’s worth repeating, though, that this isn’t a sportscar, but a fast, stable cruiser that you can take to Cameron Highlands in a day and play on mountain roads with.
Is there a manual option?
Alas, no. Instead, that gorgeous gearlever controls an eight-speed auto with steering paddles; you’ll use them, too, because the autobox’s can feel dozy, unless you select the Sport or Sport + driving mode.
A Smart programme is meant to let the Kia guess what sort of driving mood you’re in, but in our experience it wasn’t quick enough to be useful.
Is it actually a family car, then?
Yes, and no. If you have a young family, it’ll do fine. The cabin feels more spacious than it actually is, probably because of the car’s length, but the swooping roofline requires adults to do a little head-dip before climbing into the back.
The boot isn’t enormous, either, with only 406 litres of cargo space available before you fold the rear seats.
So it’s more of a coupe?
Maybe not actually one, but the Stinger is definitely a car in the spirit of a coupe. The driver environment is classically sporty, with the controls wrapping around the captain’s chair and the key controls falling easily to hand. You sit down in the seat and feel ensconced in the car, and there’s even a Head-UP Display, which ought to be handy if you’re trying not to let the on-the-move refinement cost you your licence.
As befits a coupe, a cabin oozes poshness, too. The jet turbine design for the air-con vents catches the eye, the plastics feel soft to the touch, and there are metallic switches that you just don’t find in cars at this price level.
Do you get much car for the money?
It’s a Kia, so yes. There are so many standard equipment items that naming them all would turn this article into a list, so it would be easier to say that there’s no GPS navigation for the 8-inch touchscreen system and call it good.
Otherwise, there’s stuff to make life convenient (keyless entry and engine starting, a powered tailgate, wireless charging), plush (a glass sunroof, ventilated front seats) or safe (seven airbags).
As or the lack of satnav, there’s Andoid Auto and Apple CarPlay.
So is it worth spending the extra money on the 3.3L GT?
If you’re a driving fan, definitely. Not only do you get 365 horsepower (and with it, enough oomph to rocket to 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds), it comes with active suspension, beefier brakes and a limited slip differential — perfect for blasting out of tight corners cleanly, or if you’re on the track, executing lurid drifts. In theory, at least.
Sounds like the two cars are quite different.
That’s what we reckon; there are really two Stingers for two budgets and two personalities, a satisfying, value-for-money one in the 2.0 GT-Line and the 3.3L GT, which also offers value for money and is not just faster, but also more exciting.
For this sort of money, the Germans offer less performance, and the Japanese, less style. After spending time in the Stinger we’re left convinced of one thing: if more cars were like this, the world would be a nicer place.
NEED TO KNOW Kia Stinger 2.0L GT Line
Engine 1,998cc, 16V, turbo in-line four
Power 247hp at 6,200rpm
Torque 353Nm at 1,400rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 240km/h
0-100km/h 6.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.9L/100km
Price S$166,999 with Certificate Of Entitlement
Agent Cycle & Carriage Kia
What happened when we drove a Kia Stinger at the Nürburgring