Over the past decade, Kia has elevated itself from being little more than a punch line to being a legitimate competitor to the likes of Honda, Toyota, and the American Big Three. But the brand hasn’t built as solid a reputation when it comes to performance, something it hopes to change with the 2018 Kia Stinger.
Unveiled at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the Stinger is Kia’s first real attempt at a performance car, and a novel proposition in general. It combines rear-wheel drive with a practical four-door sedan body, something not currently available from any other non-luxury brand. Here’s everything we know about the Stinger so far.
The Stinger is a compact four-door sedan similar in size to luxury standards like the BMW 3 Series. However, the Kia emphasizes design to a greater degree than the Bimmer and most other cars in that segment.
The overall design is borrowed from the Kia GT concept, which first appeared at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The steeply raked windshield, low roofline, and fastback rear end definitely give the Stinger a sporty appearance, but they make for a somewhat tight-feeling interior. The car does have a relatively long wheelbase of 114.4 inches though, which helps a bit in that area. In fact, it boasts more interior volume than the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz CLS. Cargo space is rated at 23.3 cubic feet.
To emphasize its rear-wheel drive layout, Kia designers gave the Stinger classic proportions, with a long hood and short rear deck. At the front, the Stinger wears Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, flanked by large air intakes that make the car appear wider. More vents sit behind the front wheels, just ahead of the doors, and at the back, although it’s unclear if they’re functional or ornamental.
The Stinger will be available with two engine options. The base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while the optional 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. For our friends abroad, a 2.2-liter diesel engine will be offered in Europe as well.
The all-important standard rear-wheel drive is the key to the Stinger’s sporting aspirations, but all-wheel drive will also be available as an option for buyers who live in snowy climes. The all-wheel drive system features torque vectoring, which can shunt power to different wheels depending on conditions. Rear-wheel drive models get a limited-slip differential.
It may be the sportiest Kia ever, but sadly the Stinger will not be offered with a manual transmission. The only option is an eight-speed automatic pulled from the K900 luxury sedan, with paddle shifters mounted aft of the steering wheel.
The Stinger is a striking vehicle to look at, but thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be all bark and no bite.
The Stinger is Kia’s quickest accelerating car ever, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.7 seconds for the 3.3-liter V6 model. V6 versions have a top speed of 167 mph as well, and the 2.0-liter version still returns a respectable 0 to 60 mph time of 5.9 ticks. Performance wise, that puts the Stinger right between the BMW 330i (0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds), and the 340i (4.6 seconds).
It’s not all about acceleration, though. To make sure the Stinger could handle properly, Kia brought it to Germany’s Nürburgring, the race track where just about every other new performance car goes to be taken seriously. As shown in the video above, the four-door isn’t exactly out of its element in low-grip conditions either.
The sedan rides on a chassis comprised of 55 percent advanced high-strength steel. The suspension setup includes large MacPherson shocks up front, while the rear features a reinforced five-link setup mounted to a stiffened subframe. The Stinger is also the first Kia to get adaptive suspension, which adjusts firmness based on road conditions and vehicle movement. Its behavior can also be changed through five driving modes: Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort, and Smart. Steering is controlled through a rack-mounted electric motor, and for extra stopping power, V6 models get Brembo brakes.
Kia will offer a decent array of tech features on the Stinger, including a full suite of driver aids.
An autonomous emergency braking system that can detect potential collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians and initiate braking will be offered, along with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert. A Driver Attention Alert system monitors inputs from the driver and sounds a chime if it thinks he or she is distracted or drowsy.
Beyond safety features, the Stinger will be available with a head-up display, which can show navigation directions, audio and cruise control settings, and blind spot detection information. A wireless phone-charging pad conveniently located in the center console will also be available. Like all Kias, the Stinger uses the Uvo infotaiment system, in this case with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display.
Full details on features will not be available until closer to the Stinger’s launch. Kia does consider the Stinger to be a “gran turismo,” a type of car that incorporates both performance and luxury characteristics, which implies that it will have a relatively high level of equipment.
The top audio system will be a Harman/Kardon surround-sound setup with 15 speakers and subwoofers mounted beneath the front seats. It also features Clari-Fi 8 “music-restoration technology,” which uses digital witchcraft to counteract the effects of compression.
The driver gets both analog gauges and a TFT screen that can display things like G-forces and lap times, as well as ordinary trip data. Niceties such as Nappa leather seats and a power tailgate will be offered too.
Pricing and availability
Kia has not revealed official pricing information, but the Stinger will likely stay in the relatively affordable price range this Korean automaker is known for. Rumors point to a base price of less than $33,000, however there may be a big gulf between the cost of the 2.0-liter model and a fully loaded 3.3-liter V6 version. Look for the 2018 Kia Stinger to hit showrooms later in 2017.
Update: We’ve added information about the Stinger’s acceleration, pricing, interior dimensions, and suspension setup.