3.3 T-GDi GT S
you were offered a 365bhp
168mph five-seater gran turismo
for £41K or, for the same money,
a top-spec, seven-seater 4x4 SUV,
which hand would you bite off?
ANY KEEN DRIVER would leap at the chance of a high-performance sports
machine over an SUV, especially one that seats five. Interestingly, the range-topping
SUV and the Stinger GT S both wear the same badge; consequently they both come
with Kia's 'best in the biz' seven-year warranty. Oh, and the Stinger has just
won Best Performance Car in the 2018 UK Car of the Year awards.
First impressions count for a lot and the first time you lay eyes on the Stinger
you'll definitely see a lot to like. Taking up getting on for five metres of
blacktop, there's plenty of body for your £41K. Strikingly styled, there's no
mistaking its GT intentions.
low stance is enhanced by a coupe-esque roofline, wheel arches housing distinctive
19-inch alloys, and a skark-ish nose fronted by complex headlamps edging a sleeker
version of Kia's trademark 'tiger nose' grille.
low-slung sports Nappa
leather seats benefit from
vented centre panels for
three-stage cooling on
hot days; for cold ones
heating, also three-stage.
Plus theres a heated rim
for the flat-bottomed
just during the winter
but also for long journeys
any time of the year...
Overall the Stinger embodies classic gran turismo proportions: a long bonnet
with a short front overhang and fastback-style tail; a long wheelbase with the
cabin positioned towards the back of the car; and a lengthy rear overhang beneath
broad shoulders with just a hint of a 'Coke bottle' nip in the waist.
The Stinger's cabin is everything a grand tourer's should be stylish,
smartly trimmed and well stocked with quality leather and tasteful trim finishings
with metallic and high gloss black accents. The cocooning, low-slung sports
Nappa leather seats benefit from vented centre panels for three-stage cooling
on hot days; for cold ones there's fast-to-warm heating, also three-stage.
Plus there's a heated rim for the multifunction leather-wrapped wheel that's
welcome not just during the winter but also for long journeys any time of the
year. There's also full power adjustment with a two-setting memory (for seat,
door mirrors, ad head-up display) along with backrest bolsters that can be powered
in or out for a bespoke fit and four-way lumbar support.
Although you sit low, visibility is fine (even through the steeply raked tailgate's
'letterbox' screen) and thanks to a clear view down the bonnet placing the Stinger
is a no-brainer. The sporty flat-bottomed (or D-shaped as they're now being
called) steering wheel is fab very tactile with perforated 'work' areas
and manual override paddle-shifters on the horizontal spokes. An electric parking
brake with an auto-hold function minimises the frustration of stop-start driving
in built-up areas.
Adding to the ambiance is a large one-shot powered glass sunroof that tilts
and slides if you enjoy 'real' air you'll be pleased to know that open
at speed it's buffet-free. Meanwhile, keeping your attention focused on the
road is a first-rate customisable head-up display that shows turn-by-turn navigation
information, road speed, cruise, and blind spot detection warnings.
Naturally there's a large digital speed readout on the 7-inch multifunction
digital trip display between the main dials (alongside the posted limit, which
is repeated on the navigation mapping on the main touchscreen) so no
excuse for breaking the law!
Stinger's cabin comes pre-packed with desirable kit such as wireless smartphone
charging, an 8-inch touchscreen with SatNav, two-zone automatic climate control,
a power boot that can be opened and closed using either the dash button or the
key, suede-feel headlining, reversing camera system (parking sensors supported
by a 360-degree surround view camera), selectable driving modes, heated powerfolding
door mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless locking and Start, and a
premium sound system from harman/kardon.
a car as quick as the
Stinger its reassuring to
find that all the
important functions have
their own independent
controls (rather than
being operated via
dabs on a touchscreen)
so actioning them is
much less distracting
when youre driving at
there's also a host of safety kit and driving aids such as smart cruise, autonomous
emergency braking, lane keep assist, high beam assist for the LED headlights,
driver attention warning alerts, posted speed limit information, tyre pressure
monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring (particularly
helpful is the warning you get if you indicate preparatory to changing lanes
and there just happens to be a vehicle coming up fast in your blind spot).
In a car as quick as the Stinger it's reassuring to find that all of the important
functions have their own independent controls (rather than being operated via
attention-greedy fingertip dabs on a touchscreen) so actioning them is much
less distracting when you're driving at ten-tenths.
While you're likely to be roaming far and wide in your Stinger, you'll always
know exactly where you are and be connected the crystal-clear eight-inch
touchscreen provides navigation and infotainment via Kia Connected Services
and TomTom with access to traffic updates, speed camera locations, weather information
and local searches supplemented by Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone
connectivity with voice control for further linkage to maps, music podcasts,
audio books and texts. Android Auto can also access Google Maps navigation and
Google Play music.
Music can be through the digital radio (with MP3 compatibility) or streamed
via Bluetooth; for concert hall-quality sounds the harman/kardon hifi is ready
to rock-and-roll with fifteen speakers, subwoofer, and external amp.
Power-wise, three versions of the Stinger are now available in the UK, all with
turboed direct injection engines mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox:
a 2.0-litre 244bhp petrol engine (from £32K); a 2.2-litre 197bhp turbodiesel
(from 34K); and the range-topping 3.3-litre 365bhp twin-turboed direct injection
petrol-drinking all-aluminium V6. While 365 is undeniably a macho number, better
still is the accompanying 376lb ft of torque that guarantees a relentless shove
from 1,300 right through to 4,500rpm.
wide powerband means uninterrupted acceleration and surging pick up regardless
of which one of the autobox's eight gears you're actually in when you drop the
hammer. Don't lift off and 60mph will flash past in 4.7 seconds; keep your right
foot pinned to the floor and the Stinger will keep on going all the way to 168mph.
and 376lb ft
of torque guarantees a
relentless shove from
1,300 right through
The wide powerband
acceleration and surging
pick up regardless of
which one of the
autoboxs eight gears
youre actually in when
you drop the hammer...
Power is put down through the rear wheels via a limited-slip diff to ensure
torque goes to the back wheel with the most grip. And those turbos aren't just
for bragging rights they ensure there's virtually no lag as the Stinger
surges towards the horizon, and while you can rev the engine out to its redline
there's really no need or benefit as mid-range it feels tirelessly punchy.
Cruising at 70mph the V6 purrs along; alternately, the active sound synthesiser
can relay the engine note into the cockpit through the harman/kardon speakers.
That said, we found it more entertaining by far to slot the selector into Sport
mode and indulge the 3.3's refined low-down punch to make unruffled but understatedly
rapid Q-car progress soundtracked by the likes of Born to Run (Springsteen)
and Runnin' Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers).
For the record, Drive Mode Select offers the driver five different shift and
throttle response programmes: Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. For pressing
on along demanding roads you might like to personally control up- and downshifts
no problem; gear changes can be made using the steering wheel-mounted
Given that this 3.3-litre twin-turboed V6 drinks from the green pump, its Official
Combined Cycle fuel consumption figure of 28.5mpg is not bad. In fact the big
surprise was that in real-life driving conditions we regularly saw 30mpg
and I promise you we definitely weren't driving Miss Daisy!
If you're reading between the lines you'll have 'got' that despite its seriously
quick figures, the Stinger's raison d'Ítre is not GT as in Fast and Furious
but GT as in Grand Tourer. Gran turismo, as in savouring the journey as opposed
to racing the clock (although it does that exceedingly well too) the
latter being something we all do every day in our permanently fast-forward lives;
but in racing to the end of everything we forget to savour the moment.
itself is the first to point out that the Stinger has the soul of a Grand Tourer
even though its engine might be the heart of a road-burner. Select Comfort mode
and it's as clear as day where its long-legged charms lie.
this 3.3-litre twin-
turboed V6 drinks from
the green pump, its
Official Combined Cycle
figure of 28.5mpg
is not bad.
In fact the big surprise
was that in real-life
driving conditions we
regularly saw 30mpg
and I promise you
we definitely werent
driving Miss Daisy!
Matched by fluent shifts, the ride it serves up is supple and well damped
and compliant enough to take big bumps, sharp surface imperfections and even
potholes easily in its stride. Around the houses there's an underlying firmness
that's never fidgety and which promises good body control when you up the pace.
Enhancing the ride refinement, and most notable when cruising, is the absence
of wind and road noise.
Hearing how well the Stinger rides you may be harbouring doubts as to just how
well it can rumble; don't worry it's a satisfyingly accomplished sports
saloon that will most definitely entertain you. If you're a dedicated follower
of these things, the fact that ex-BMW M division's chassis and vehicle development
guru Albert Biermann is part of the team that developed the Stinger says it
The 2.0-litre Stingers come as standard with four-wheel drive; however, V6 versions
for the UK are rear-wheel drive only the sure-fire route for a more exploitable
and a more engaging drive. The GT S is also the only one in the Stinger family
to get adaptive dampers. In Sport and Sport+ mode (just twist the centre console-mounted
driving mode control) they're firmed up along with throttle response being ramped
up, snappier shifts with shift points modified to hold onto ratios for longer,
and the steering weighted-up for sportier driving. Select the Smart mode and
it adjusts the damping to complement your driving style. Comfort and Eco modes
offer alternatives sympathetically matched to its grand tourer persona.
For a big car it feels remarkably light on its 19-inch Continental 'feet' and
aided by quick variable-ratio steering at the front-end, torque vectoring that
applies power and braking force to the inner wheel rear to minimise understeer
while boosting steering feel and tractability, and good levels of grip, the
Stinger's handling shows a well-balanced agility that keeps you resolutely on
your chosen line through challenging twisties. What will surprise many is how
close the slingable Stinger comes to fitting BMW's 'Ultimate Driving Machine'
Many a fast road car has been sold short by a set of so-so brakes. As anyone
who knows anything about dynamics will tell you, before you can even think of
exploiting power you need two things: a well-fettled suspension and a set of
great brakes. Only then do you jack the horsepower.
Stinger's brakes deserve a special mention: they're first-rate. Unique to the
range-topping V6 is a Brembo braking system which uses larger vented and drilled
discs with quad-piston callipers for progressive pedal action, greater feel
and confidence-inspiring stopping power whether you're shaving your entry speed
setting up for a slalom or anchoring up in an emergency.
a big car the Stinger
feels remarkably light on
its 19-inch Continental
feet and aided by quick
steering, torque vectoring
to boost steering feel
and tractability, and good
levels of grip,
its handling shows a
well-balanced agility that
keeps you resolutely on
your chosen line through
And for those grand tour trips over Europe's highest mountain passes, their
resistance to fade even with sustained use is extremely reassuring.
While you're busy savouring the Stinger's driving abilities, it's understandably
easy to forget that this is a full-blown five-seater. The rear cabin, despite
the sloping coupe roofline, offers plenty of space with plenty of legroom, even
for taller passengers.
Those using the rear seats won't feel hard done by if they're not seated up
front because they too get enveloping heated leather seats shaped for comfort
along with more than enough room to lounge around on long trips with large armrests,
their own air vents with temperature control and USB charging and 12v power
Given it's a five-seater grand tourer, the Stinger's boot s nevertheless unexpectedly
functional, mustering a surprisingly accommodating 406 litres; better still,
drop the rear seatbacks and this jumps to a very handy and seamless-floored
1,114 litres more than enough for the luggage you'll need to do justice
to a 'grand' tour. We can't see many owners wanting to tow in such a sporty-looking
machine but if needs must then the Stinger will happily haul a braked 1,500kg.
Engaging to drive and strikingly-styled, the impressively capable 168mph Stinger
challenges similar high-performance sports machinery from Audi, BMW and Mercedes
with its abilities while at the same time undercutting them all on price and
equipment. ~ MotorBar
Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi GT S
Maximum speed: 168mph | 0-60mph: 4.7 seconds | Test Average: 29.9mpg
Power: 365bhp | Torque: 376lb ft | CO2: 225g/km