TodayApril 15, 2022

2018 Kia Stinger: the journey or the destination

Kia’s car designer

Kia Stinger – It didn’t take much to see that Kia was making a statement when the Stinger, known as the GT Concept Car, rolled out on the carwalk at the North American International Auto Show in January 2017. Peter Schreyer, the chief designer for Kia, was there to talk about the design and what this car meant to the brand.

It was at the Frankfurt auto show (IAA) that we talked to Gregory Guillaume, Vice President and chief designer, Kia Motors Europe about his vision when designing the little red car, “This car started six years ago, at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show with the concept car, the GT. It was the answer to the question from Korea if Kia were going to go into the segment of a front mid-shift rear-wheel four-door car what would the car be?”

2022 Kia GT concept at Frankfurt Auto Show IAA

The result is a little red car. Guillaume tells the story that the only way cars have been shown to executives is in silver in Korea. Guillaume thought the Stinger stood out in red and to make an impact he showed the GT version to the executives, and they loved it. It is now known as the red car.

We drove the red car through the Angeles Forest to Kia’s California Proving Ground in the Mojave Desert. That is where the fun began.

Kia's California Proving Ground in the Mojave Desert
Kia’s California Proving Ground in the Mojave Desert

A racecar driver’s goal is to beat every other car on the circuit just as Michael Phelps’s goal is to beat everyone in the pool. It’s a noble conquest, and the Kia Stinger is great fun to jag around the apex in an autocross. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires stay on the ground, as I take both the rear-wheel drive and the all-wheel drive around the autocross.

Kia brought a group of Europeans, an Infiniti and Lexus, cars for us to drive; BMWs, Audis, even a Porsche Panamera. My favorite Stinger was the rear-wheel-drive for its maneuverability and fun to drive. The all-whee-drivel has dynamic torque vectoring, so it feels more sure-footed traction while it sends fifty percent of the power to the front wheels, enhancing stability. While I don’t think most people will look at a Kia when buying a BMW or Audi, I would encourage them to drive the Stinger alongside an Infiniti or Lexus.

The crisp ride and handling of the 2018 Kia Stinger is the work of Albert Biermann, former BMW M Division Vice President, head of Kia’s Vehicle Test & High-Performance Development. Kia’s first sedan with available all-wheel drive (AWD), has a new Dynamic Stability Damping Control suspension that adapts to your driving. Keep driving, keep smiling.

But a Stinger isn’t a straight-line swimmer or a car for just the race track. A Stinger takes the form of a woman that gets up in the early morning as the Sun shows its first rays of light. Dedicated to silence, the still of the morning, she dons her swimsuit, her cap, and her goggles. She stands, pensive, as she steadies herself for the briskness of the water. Her destination is the other side of the Lake, but between the dock and the Lake is the journey, the solace of the swim, the feeling as the water runs over her body, the thoughts in her head drop away with each stroke. She is alone in her pursuit to the destination, going slower than necessary because the journey is the desire, not the destination.

The Stinger starts up with a feeling of full throttle, gearing up for the journey. The styling of the four-door belies the hatchback body on a rear-drive platform. The Stinger has left the hamsters in the Soul and created a new body, a new platform, a stream of consciousness that others have forged, but no one thought that Kia would wade into this pool. Hyundai perhaps, but Kia, no.

2018 Kia Stinger sunroof
2018 Kia Stinger sunroof

The air wisping over the body as the car that was racing around the autocross becomes a chariot. The Stinger has transformed from a race car driver to a swimmer that enjoys the drive; a commuter that knows they can go faster can overtake the car in front of it. Instead, it pulls back, music streaming from all seven speakers set expertly by the folks at Harman Kardon. There is time to enjoy the solace, the music, the noise of the engine, the lack of noise.

Harman Kardon is the premium sound you hear through the fifteen high-performance speakers and the dual under seat-mounted subwoofers, with Clari-fi digital music restoration technology and QuantumLogic surround sound.

The Stinger is purchased with an impressive array of standard and optional technology; eighteen driver’s assist systems such as lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, forward collision warning, and smart cruise control with stop-and-go. Add in the sixteen-way power driver seat, 12-way power passenger seat, Nappa leather, Aircell lumbar with bolsters.

2018 Kia Stinger array of standard and optional technology
2018 Kia Stinger array of standard and optional technology

On cold days, the available heated steering wheel will warm you up, and in the heat of summer, the dual-zone climate control will keep you cool. Add in the advanced UVO infotainment system displayed on an available 8″ touchscreen, and you’ll be feeling right at home. Put all five adults in the car or throw the 60/40 split-folding rear seat down and open the wide Sportback hatch with the smart trunk and go away for the weekend. All is good.

Sportback hatch with the smart trunk
Sportback hatch with the smart trunk

2018 Kia Stinger models

There are two models of the Kia Stinger, the Singer, and the GT; the Singer has two trim levels; the basic Stinger and the Stinger Premium. The Stinger GT has three trim levels; the basic GT, GT1, and GT2.

2018 Kia stinger Powertrain

The Kia Stinger model uses a 2.0L Twin-Scroll Turbo 4-Cyl that can produce 255 @ 6,200 rpm horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. @ 1,400-4,000 rpm of torque with a 0-60 mph of 5.9 seconds.

The Kia Stinger GT model uses a 3.3L Twin Turbo V6 that can produce 365 @ 6,000 rpm horsepower and 76 lb.-ft. @ 1,300-4,500 rpm of torque with a 0-60 mph of 4.7 seconds.

2nd-generation in-house design 8-speed automatic transmission with five drive modes, and paddle shifters
Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter
Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control System (All-Wheel Drive models)
The Stinger takes premium gasoline.

Driving the Stinger is where you feel the difference in Kia that you see in the little red car. The vehicle is fast and reliable, agile and enjoyable. It can take the corner or the long stretch of nothing but time. It can be a journey or a destination.

Final pricing has not been reported, but the numbers being bandied about are between $33,000-$39,000.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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