Anybody who likes to cook dinner is aware of it’s uncommon to get a brand new dish proper on the primary strive. It often takes just a few tweaks to achieve perfection, regardless of how good the bottom recipe is.
That’s the case with the much-hyped Kia Stinger. Kia has by no means constructed a grand-touring sports activities sedan earlier than, so the model was primarily ranging from scratch. Which might clarify why the Stinger, which we’ve been listening to about for what looks as if an eternity now, is superb, however not as nice as I’d hoped.
Full disclosure: Kia flew media out to North Hollywood, California and fed us a number of glorious meals whereas lodging us in a retro-themed luxurious lodge. They gave us designer sun shades, supplied dinner leisure, screenings of traditional films in a personal theater, and hosted us in a room stuffed with arcade video video games, pinball machines, a pool desk, and a skee-ball machine.
The Stinger is obtainable with two engines — a 2.Zero-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and a Three.Three-liter twin-turbocharged V6 making 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Automobiles geared up with the latter engine are dubbed Stinger GTs. Each engines pair with a smooth-shifting eight-speed computerized transmission. Rear-wheel drive is commonplace, with all-wheel drive out there.
All of it makes for an attention-grabbing car, one which was anticipated to fulfill sky-high expectations.
Let’s begin with the great. Acceleration from the V6 is stout, offering grins everytime you goose the fuel. The exhaust has a stunning baritone (sure, it’s artificially augmented) that burbles forth and allows you to know you aren’t driving an Optima. Passing punch is plentiful and the Stinger could be the first-ever Kia to turn out to be a law-enforcement magnet.
Experience high quality is agency but nice, even in Sport mode, which is the one mode it’s best to use (I’ll get to that). Whether or not on the freeway or the again roads, the Stinger felt snug and composed.
This carries over to dealing with. The automotive feels planted and the steering correctly weighted. Mid-corner corrections are simple, thanks to express steering.
Dealing with can also be the place the unhealthy information begins, nevertheless. The constructive attributes are almost cancelled out by copious physique roll — an excessive amount of for a automotive of this sort and intent. Kia varieties tried to defend this trait by saying some model of “effectively, it’s a grand tourer,” however these are the identical people who prompt it would compete with some sporty German and Japanese iron, such because the Audi A5/S5 and BMW’s grand tourers.
This protection doesn’t completely ring hole, at the least not based mostly on some competing vehicles readily available for comparability responsibility. However Kia didn’t as soon as utter the phrases “Alfa Romeo” throughout the press transient, and virtually each automotive talked about both gives a sportier model that went unremarked upon or is not going to be cross-shopped towards the Stinger. The Porsche Panamera, particularly, isn’t a mannequin customers will examine to the brand new Kia — the value hole alone is sufficient to drive a Ford Fusion by way of.
No matter comps, being a “grand tourer” doesn’t excuse the quantity of physique roll displayed by a automotive with sporting intent. The Stinger is meant to be greater than a sexy road-tripper, that means Kia has some work to do right here.
Kia has much less work to do with the design — it’s a looker. The outside form is glossy and cleanly drawn, and the aviation-themed inside is fairly, too. A few of the aero bits aren’t simply tacked on for seems to be, both – for instance, the vents on the entrance fenders do ship cooling air in the direction of the brakes.
Properly, principally fairly. The cabin is marred by one other a type of tacked-on infotainment screens (please, automakers, cease this) and there are a number of buttons clustered collectively in numerous areas. So far as supplies go, most are class-appropriate, however cheaper plastic seems in lots of locales.
Kia took pains to level out that the Stinger has an extended wheelbase than the Audi A5 Sportback, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and GS, and BMW four Collection Gran Coupe, which ends up in a bigger inside. There’s loads of room up entrance and within the again – Kia bought the half about grand tourers needing to haul 4 adults right. The cargo space can also be spacious, at 23.Three cubic toes with the rear seats up and 40.9 with the seats down.
A part of our day with the automotive included an untimed autocross. We had been supposed to make use of this a part of the afternoon to check Stinger GTs with each drivetrains towards an Audi A5 S Line, an Audi A7, a BMW 440i, a BMW 650i, an Infiniti Q50, a Lexus GS F Sport, and a Porsche Panamera.
Astute readers will be aware that the deck was barely stacked in Kia’s favor – no Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoligo (and even Ti) in sight, no Audi S5, no M4 or M6 – you get the concept. After all, most of these vehicles are pure efficiency autos whereas the variations readily available are meant as a steadiness between efficiency and each day driving – which fits to indicate that Kia most likely sees the Stinger GT, at the least as presently constructed, as one thing greater than a pure efficiency car.
There’s nothing fallacious with that, after all. I present most of this for context, since Kia is prone to play up efficiency in its Stinger advertising and marketing.
For the reason that autocross was untimed, I set about driving like a jackass to get every car to slip round a bit. Utilizing phrases like “on the restrict” is a bit foolish when referring to an autocross, however I nonetheless needed to get a way of how every automotive behaved when pushed just a little too exhausting. The A5 and the Lexus had been my favorites of the day, with the Stinger (and each drivetrains) ending third in my psychological rankings.
The rear-drive Stinger had an inclination to plow in corners earlier than snapping round right into a tail-happy slide, whereas the AWD automotive proved extra steady below exhausting acceleration. I might distantly really feel the torque-vectoring system working to deliver the AWD automotive round – a sense I used to be capable of kind of detect even on public roads.
Kia bragged in regards to the Stinger’s brakes, and with good motive – they’re improbable. The automaker has launched a system that’s presupposed to mitigate brake fade, however I can’t say for positive if both autocrossing or driving by way of the mountains produced sufficient exhausting braking to require the system’s intervention.
On the street, maybe the most important flaw is one thing that’s additionally a energy – it typically appeared too well-behaved to have a fascinating persona. At occasions, I felt I used to be driving too sluggish, solely to look down and see I used to be touring or cornering on the applicable velocity – the Stinger’s quietness and principally behaved (sans physique roll) suspension sapped the drama, and maybe among the enjoyable, out of the proceedings.
Kia offers you 5 drive modes to select from (Consolation, Eco, Sport, Good, and Customized), and I discovered Sport to be the most effective for all conditions, not simply exhausting driving. Even on metropolis streets and the freeway, it gives higher steering and throttle responses than the marginally sloppy Consolation and Eco modes.
I did get a quick spin within the four-cylinder Stinger however, as my time was restricted and I used to be navigating city site visitors, my stint wasn’t terribly instructive. I can say that the 4 has some guts, however how way more I’m not positive – the combo of site visitors and pedestrians milling about stored me from misbehaving.
Primarily based on an especially small pattern dimension, I believe Kia will promote extra four-cylinders than it deliberate. That’s as a result of the automotive appears to have sufficient punch for around-town responsibility, and a few patrons will merely not care in regards to the V6’s energy – they’ll need the seems to be at a less expensive value. That is how a Kia supplier will stroll an Optima intender right into a four-banger Stinger.
Stinger patrons get a selection of 5 trims – base, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. Since all V6s are GTs, meaning the ultimate three trims solely apply to the V6. Each automotive readily available for driving was a top-trim GT2.
Out there options throughout the varied trims embrace Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, head-up show, energy tilt/telescope steering wheel, USB, Nappa leather-based upholstery, heated entrance seats, cooled entrance seats, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, premium audio, UVO infotainment, rearview digital camera, and a bunch of driver aids (parking help, forward-collision avoidance help, front-collision warning, lane-keep help, lane-departure warning, driver-attention warning, blind-spot collision warning with lane-change help, rear cross-path detection, and sensible cruise management). You’ll be able to even have subwoofers below your butt.
Evaluating the general bundle, it looks like Kia got down to construct a pure sports activities sedan with a contact of luxurious and ended up constructing a luxurious sedan that’s fairly rattling sporty.
Not simply sporty, however comparatively low-cost. A base Stinger will set you again simply $32,800, together with the D and D payment. Stepping as much as a GT requires $39,250, whereas a GT2 will price you $50,100. All-wheel drive provides $2,200 throughout the board. So, a loaded Stinger with AWD is $52,300.
Whereas this value vary places it on par (give or take choices/trims) with the Infiniti, the Giulia Ti, the A5, and the GS F Sport (provided that in comparison with the GT2, within the case of the Lexus), it additionally places the top-end Stinger proper across the value level of the 440i/440xi – and that’s earlier than the BMW provides any choices. The Stinger presents a price selection, relying on choices, for individuals who aren’t wrapped up in model id. Should you don’t want a BMW to be ok with your self, the Stinger is a rattling good various.
What’s odd is that the Stinger’s aggressive set isn’t clear reduce. The Lexus and Infiniti are sedans, not hatches, for one. For one more, the Audi and BMW may not be cross-shopped a lot towards the Kia. The Chevy SS sedan is lifeless. That leaves the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300, that are muscle-car massive sedans, not grand tourers, and the Giulia. Which places the Stinger in a singular spot within the market.
I’m curious to see if a extra “pure” efficiency stage will emerge in a 12 months or two, or if Hyundai/Kia will depart that to the upcoming Stinger-based Genesis G70. Within the meantime, the Stinger is a stable first effort that wants a little bit of tweaking to deliver out its persona and scale back physique roll in cornering.
The GT is the fanatic’s selection, however even in four-cylinder guise the Stinger is a spacious, svelte grand-touring hatch that gives sufficient luxurious and driving thrills to fulfill, even with some evident flaws. It wants work to be good, however the dish continues to be tasty.
[Images ©2017 Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]