Kia Stinger is Hot – Inflection Point for Kia Brand
The Kia Stinger is a 5-door hatchback sport sedan that ventures into an area Kia has not gone before. Kia describes the Stinger as “an inflection point that takes Kia to a different level”. It does, indeed.
What is the Stinger The Kia Stinger is a rear wheel (or AWD) mid-size car with a long wheelbase, a large interior package and outstanding driving dynamics. Using worldwide design resources, including a delay to finesse the chassis by former BMW “M” executive Albert Biermann, the Stinger provides Kia with a world-class challenger to German sport sedans. The vehicle closest in concept is the Audi A7 hatchback.
Driving the Stinger We drove Kia Stinger V6 GTs (there were at least 36 Stingers in the first wave of Kia’s two-wave press preview) over the Angeles Crest Highway north of LA. These are challenging mountainous twisties that reveal the competence of a vehicle when pushed aggressively. Here the Stinger was very good. It was solidly planted, very stable, and hugged the road.
The Kia Stinger GT is also fast. Its 365-horsepower turbo V6 is powerful and flexible. Power is instantaneous. Kia claims a zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds. The engine note is muted even at full power and cabin quietness is very good. This is premium-brand quietness.
The GT2 level vehicles driven have Brembo brakes with red calipers. When aggressively on the binders the system compensates for brake fade so you keep constant pressure on the pedal rather then pushing harder to get more braking oomph.
Easy to Live With Ergonomics are good. It comes close to passing the rental car test where you can intuitively start the car and drive off at midnight in a driving rainstorm. The steering wheel may be a bit intimidating until you suss out what each of the buttons does. There is a bright center display with good graphics – some of the best in the industry. The nav system shows the road you are on but not the city you are in. A pet peeve of mine in dense geography, it doesn’t take much more to display the city name (Ford’s SYNC system has shown the city name from the start.). The Kia Stinger comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto… as any modern vehicle should.
Surrogate for an XSUV for the Discerning Mom? At the press briefing, Kia had a chance to really tout the utility of the car. When asked who would drive it, the obvious was missed. The young mother with one or two infants that loves advanced styling and fun to drive. For her, a crossover SUV might not do it. All of her peers are beginning to drive those, right? (Crossover SUVs might be becoming the new minivan… not the right image). Wanting to be different, she chooses the Kia Stinger – clearly a car appealing to a man – because the liftgate-accessed cargo area gives her the utility she needs with her kids.
Very Attractive Pricing The base Kia Stinger comes with a powerful turbo 4~cylinder and is priced about $32,000 which is attainable for many Kia buyers. Check all the boxes to get GT2 level Stinger GT with all wheel drive you can get over $50,000. With the feature load of the entire lineup, Stinger is a compelling proposition.
While we haven’t driven the 4-cylinder yet, it promises to be quick and nimble due to its lower weight. Can’t wait to get in one.
Kia Brand is Elephant in the Room The elephant int the room is the Kia brand. Initially positioned as a cheap and cheerful brand, Kia has increasingly been selling better and better products. In AutoPacific‘s 2016 and 2017 consumer research, Kia has been the top scoring popular brand providing an “ideal” vehicle. But even while Kia has been selling higher priced Cadenza and K900 sedans for years now, it is not a premium brand. The Kia Stinger is an outstanding effort and a product to be proud of. Getting Stinger into the consideration set that may include the Audi A7, BMW 440i Grand Coupe and even the Porsche Panamera will be a challenge. Kia Stinger’s huge price advantage should get buyers wanting a very sporty fun to drive sedan to visit a Kia dealer for a test drive. Time will tell if Kia and Kia dealers can set the hook and land the sale.