2018 Kia Stinger review with video
Starting price: $44,495 + tax
As tested: $49,995 + tax
Fuel economy over a week: 12.6 L/100 kms (18.5 US MPG)
Competition: Audi A5 Sportback, Audi A7, Lincoln MKZ, etc.
Here’s a term you may not have heard before: aspirational cars or halo cars. These are vehicles that draw people into a brand as the real showpiece for a company.
Think of the Audi R8 or the Lexus LFA – they don’t sell a lot of them but those cars have changed the way that we view those brands and what they’re capable of.
Well, Kia has jumped into the halo car business for 2018, hoping that the Stinger liftback will totally challenge that “Oh yeah, Kia… that brand from Korea that makes some decent cars with a good warranty” sort of mindset.
It’s muscular, it’s sporty and it’s drawing from much more expensive alternatives like the Audi A5 sportback that we were in last month, the Audi A7 and the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe. These are cars that invoke the thrill of driving while still being pretty damn practical. But the Stinger is entering the fold with a price tag tens of thousands of dollars cheaper. It’s doing exactly what Kia hoped it would: it has me looking at the company in a whole new light. And unlike other aspirational halo cars, it’s a vehicle that masses can actually afford! Check out our video for all the details or scroll through our report card below.
– The Stinger looks great, if not a little bit showy. But even if you’re into more reserved design, you have to admit the Stinger catches the eye while still holding on to some of those design cues from other Kias – the headlights, the grille
– At a starting price just a few bucks short of 45 grand, not many stones have been left unturned. Standard equipment includes: LED headlights, performance oriented leather seats, a heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, a smart key with push button start, blindspot monitoring, parking sensors… and I haven’t even gotten to the performance bits yet. You also get Brembo performance brakes (something you just don’t see on cars at this price point), high performance shocks, paddle shifters and some very high end performance-oriented Michelin tires right out of the box. That is some killer kit and a shot across the bow to every car company out there!
– And unlike Stingers sold in the States, all wheel drive comes as standard in the Canadian market, too. Some have complained that they’d like the more hardcore rear wheel drive version available here as well. But honestly, all wheel drive makes this car so much more practical for year-round use. And selecting Sport mode with the drive mode dial forces 80% of power to the rear wheels for a more traditional, sporty drive feel, too
– The Stinger gets rolled down the road by a 3.3-litre twin turbo V6 putting out 365 horsepower and 376 ft lbs of torque. It can rocket you to 100 kms in just 4.9 seconds, which is faster than the BMW 440i Gran Coupe, even faster than a V6 Porsche Panamera
– And even though Kia does have dual clutch transmission technology in the wings, the Stinger designers opted to put a more traditional 8 speed automatic on board. Audi has done the same with its S-line cars for 2018 because regular automatics have become far better at quick shifts and they’re more reliable when so much torque is constantly getting put through them. And honestly, I found this 8 speed smooth and right there when I need it
– When it comes to cornering performance, I’ve heard some reviewers complain that it has some body roll in the twists. But this is a GT car, a Grand Turismo. It was designed to give you performance but still be comfortable enough for a long, meandering road trip with your family without chipping your teeth over every speed bump. And unless you’re planning to do hot laps at the local track, I suspect the cornering feel will be plenty sharp enough for 95 per cent of Stinger owners
– The interior has been really well laid out. Everything is where you’d expect it. It’s sporty and driver focussed
– In terms of size, the Stinger is smack-dab in the middle between the A5 Sportback and the A7 from Audi and I think it’s a real sweet spot. I can sit up front at 6’2 comfortably and Roger has room to spare in his front facing car seat behind me. And our rear facing car seat test comes up with 30 inches from the back of the front passenger seat up to the glovebox – which makes it really liveable, even with young ones
– And speaking of carting around your crew, NCAP – the European car safety testing organization – gave the Stinger a 5 star rating this past year. So it may be a speedster, but it’s also safe
– The trunk has 660 litres of space – more than enough for our standardized trunk test. And if you need more room, you can always flip the second row down for over 1150 litres of capacity. These sportbacks are SO much more versatile than sedans and they look great, too!
– While the Stinger has plenty of power, there is a solid hit of turbo lag off the line. I wish that the power would be a bit more immediate when you lay your foot down, like we see in Audi turbos
– While most of the vents and body panelling actually do something, the gills on the hood are strictly aesthetic (which is kind of cheesy)
– We’ve found its turning radius in the urban jungle surprisingly poor
– And one thing you may not be used to with a Kia is that it takes premium fuel… which adds up at the pump these days
– And the Stinger’s not exactly a fuel sipper either. We’re averaging 12.5 litres per 100 kms this week – with a real mix of cruising and aggressive driving. But if those fuel economy numbers scare you and you still really want the looks of the Stinger, a smaller 2-litre 4-cylinder engine will be arriving in showrooms within the next few months
– Getting into this car, you’ll notice it’s a little low, which may be challenging for some
– While it’s clearly inspired by its more expensive German brethren, some of its switchwear, particularly in the doors and for the climate control, feels a bit cheap
– Get this car up to highway cruising speed and we’re seeing a moderate but not whisper quiet cabin – we’ve measured 67 dB at 100 kms/hr this week, which falls behind many of the Germans
– Seating for five? Yeah, it’s got five seat belts but good luck with that. There’s a large hump in the middle position which would make sitting there really tough, even for young kids
– That sleek, sporty roof line comes at a price for rear passenger headroom. Obviously kids will be fine but adults over 6 feet tall will feel the pinch
– This lift back design is great for a bit more trunk space but fitting a large family dog back there would definitely be a no go. There just isn’t enough height
Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (67 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 5/5
Family Wheels overall score: 40/50= 80%