A Kia sports sedan? Say what again? Yes… it happened and it’s quite good. What are we talking about? The 2018 Kia Stinger – a rear-wheel drive sports sedan that puts every other sports sedan on notice. On the outside it mimics the shape of the Porsche Panamera and Audi A7, while its price pits it against heavyweights like the BMW 3 Series. The Stinger is not only one of the best models we’ve seen from Kia, but it’s bucket loads more fun than some other sports sedans that cost thousands more.
Kia originally previewed the Stinger with the GT concept way back in 2011. The concept not only signaled a new design direction for the Kia brand, but also gave us our first preview at a Kia rear-wheel drive four-door coupe. The response to the concept was overwhelmingly positive and thankfully much of the sexy styling from the GT transitioned to the Stinger. It’s stunning and gets more thumbs up than we’ve ever experienced in anything with a Kia badge on the grille.
Moving past the stunning exterior, the Stinger offers two turbocharged options under the hood. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, but if you want to have even more fun, pick the twin turbocharged 3.3L V6 with its 365 horsepower and exhilarating 376 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and if you want the added confidence of all-wheel drive you can select it with either engine.
So we have the stunning styling and stellar engines, but the Stinger doesn’t stop there. On the road the Stinger’s suspension finds the perfect balance between sportiness and everyday comfort. It’s suspension is firm, much like a German sedan, but simply turn the dial to Comfort and it feels more relaxed, like a Lexus. Again, impressive. Throw it fast into a curve and the Stinger responds with very little body roll, while its steering provides pretty good feedback. The feedback from the steering could be a little more responsive in the twisties, but in everyday driving , it’s good.
Push the pedal hard to the floor from a stop and the Stinger’s rear wheels let out an excited squeal as you put on speed fast. With the 3.3L V6, the Stinger reaches 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, that’s faster than the base Porsche Panamera by 0.7 seconds and faster than the BMW 440i Gran Coupe by 0.1 seconds. I don’t know how many times I said “Wow” during my week with the Stinger. Push it hard from a stop light and the rear wheels slide just enough to the side to put a grin on your face. Come in fast on a hard curve and the Stinger says “what else you got?” Decide you want to just cruise down the freeway in comfort and the Stinger becomes a comfortable luxurious cruiser. How many other sports sedans are just as capable? Not many.
Was there anything that could be improved? Besides the slightly over assisted steering, the Stinger’s seats could be better. The driver’s seat needs more lateral support, since I found myself sliding from side to side as I traversed the mountain roads in the Angeles National Forest. I also wished that the exhaust had more of a bite in sport mode.
Inside the stylish theme continues. The dashboard looks and feels like it should be in something costing thousands more. The three circular air vents in the middle of the dashboard and floating infotainment system exude a level of luxury that’s on par with the brand’s K900 flagship. The low slung seating position lets you know that you aren’t sitting in a boring sedan, while you enjoy the available Nappa leather seats. Thanks to its rear liftback, the Stinger also has 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space.
In the past few years Kia has proven that it can build reliable and well built cars and now it’s proved that it can do even better with the sporty and stylish Stinger.
Pricing for the 2018 Kia Stinger starts at $31,900.