Kia is set to launch their new Stinger GT in Australia – a car which they say has the attributes which will endear it to Australian drivers across a wide demographic. But while it all sounds good on paper, the real question here is does the Stinger have what it takes to win over this new demographic, and more importantly convince them to spend upwards of $60,000 on a car with minimal badge credibility?
Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith thinks so, and says the Stinger “answers a host of questions that a significant section of the Australian new car buyers have been left wondering about.”
In case you’re wondering, most of those questions revolve around Australia’s love of cheap high-kilowatt, large rear-wheel-drive sedans – and namely, who the hell we’re going to buy them from once Holden stops manufacturing the Commodore SS by the end of the year. This is pretty much where the Stinger slots in, and Kia’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. But what exactly will you be getting for your hard-earned?
Kia Stinger trim-levels and specifications
If you’re interested in a Stinger, it is important to know the Australian-specific models will come with a choice of two petrol engines – a single turbo 2.0L 4-cylinder engine pumping out 182kW and 353Nm of torque, or the full-fat twin-turbo 3.3L V6 unleashing a V8 rivalling 272kW of power and 510Nm of torque. Both will channel their power through an 8-speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels only. As a sign of the times, no manual gearbox will be offered.
Choosing which engine to go for shouldn’t be too difficult for most Australian petrolheads, but it is also important to know that both engines are available across three different trim-levels – S, Si and GT-Line for the 2.0L engine and S, Si and GT for the 3.3L engine.
Kia Stinger 200S / 330S
Despite being base models, the Stinger 200S and 330S aren’t left wanting for tech – featuring active and passive safety, including anti-lock braking with emergency brakeforce distribution and brake assist, Electronic Stability Control and traction control, Vehicle Stability Management, hill assist, rearview camera with dynamic parking guidelines, active hood pedestrian protection, LED daylight running lights and three child restraint points. On the passive safety front, there are seven airbags including a driver’s side knee bag, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.
There are still enough perks in the cabin too, with 8-way adjustment for the artificial leather seats, while the front seat passenger will have to make do with 6-way adjustment. Cruise control will be standard, along with steering wheel mounted controls and a 3.5-inch mono instrument cluster, two 12V power outlets and two USB charging points.
Even in base model guise, you’ll also find a 7-inch touch screen entertainment system featuring satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth compatibility and music streaming.
Kia Stinger 200Si / 330Si
As you’d expect, stepping up to the Si does have its benefits – including 19-inch alloys (on 3.3L models only), plus the addition of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Alert, front parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers.
The seats are also upgraded to real leather, an Si models gain Advanced Smart Cruise Control, while in line with the S there are four cup holders and four bottle holders, a centre console storage box and front seat pockets, but the Si adds a handy luggage net.
The entertainment system also receives an upgrade over the S, with an 8-inch touchscreen (up from 7-inch) which powers 9 speakers (instead of 6) and also includes two under-seat sub-woofers. That ought to bring a smile to your face.
Kia Stinger GT-Line / GT
Stepping up from the Si, if you opt for the top of the line GT-Line and GT models you’ll also score a 360-degree rear camera view, Blind Spot Detection, Dynamic Bending Lights, High Beam Assist plus and colour Heads Up Display (HUD).
There are also a few external features on the GT which help differentiate it from the lower S or Si models, including electrochromic door mirrors, LED headlights with auto leveling, a powered sunroof and two bespoke colours which can’t be had on either of the lower models – Aurora Black and Snow White Pearl.
Inside the GT, the seats receive an upgrade to premium Nappa leather and gain lumbar support, powered bolster adjusters and a thigh extender. There is also a two-position seat memory and a sporty looking D-cut steering wheel. The instrument cluster steps up to a 7-inch colour TFT-LCD screen, alloy sports pedals are standard, plus the interior roof lining and pillars are trimmed in suede.
On the tech front, the entertainment system gets a major shot in the arm with a premium 15-speaker Harman/Kardon system (eight speakers, four tweeters, centre speaker and two subwoofers powered by an external amplifier) and there is also a wireless phone charging capability.
Also specific to 3.3L GT models are a set of Bembro brakes and a limited slip differential, as well as variable gear steering ratio.
Kia claims the 3.3L twin turbo V6 Stinger GT will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds – putting it right on-par with the current V8 Holden Commodore SS-V. Despite being hampered by a 32kW and 60Nm performance deficit, the Stinger is still able to keep up thanks to its meaty torque curve – the full 510Nm is available from 1300rpm to 4500rpm – the aforementioned 8-speed gearbox, and the addition of launch control. Kia is targeting a top speed of 270km/h, and as you’d imagine the Stinger GT easily takes the crown of being fastest-accelerating production Kia ever.
With all the buzz surrounding the twin-turbo V6 models, it is all too easy to forget about the four-cylinder turbo option – but ignore it at your peril, because it will still offer healthy levels of performance while no doubt delivering better real-world fuel economy. The 2.0L turbo inline-4 produces 182kW at 6200rpm, with the maximum torque output of 353Nm available from 1400-4000rpm. Kia promises this engine will take the Stinger from 0-100km/h in just 6.0 seconds, meaning it is still more than quick enough to scare the likes of the Golf GTi and other hot hatchbacks.
Both engines will utilise the second-generation of Kia’s electronic 8-speed automatic transmission, which also marks the first use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter in a Kia vehicle. The transmission offers adaptive shift and throttle programmes, which drivers can select through the Stinger’s Drive Mode Select.
Kia are also testing the waters with a bimodal exhaust system for the 3.3L V6, which they hope will satisfy buyers who are looking for a bit more bark from the Stinger’s otherwise muted standard exhaust. Available as a dealer-fitted option, the ‘hotdog’ style system adds bypass valves to the twin rear mufflers – and might also be made available on 2.0L models at a later date.
Will it be enough?
The Stinger brings a lot to the table and Kia should be commended for creating a car which not only looks fantastic, but offers serious performance for a not so serious price tag. But will it be enough to convince buyers to drop upwards of $60,000 on a Korean grand tourer? The Stinger pushes Kia into a category of which they have no experience, and challenging the preconceived notions of current Ford and Holden buyers that Korean cars are “crap” might take a bit more time.
However this might be the least of Kia’s worries, as high demand in Korea means the number of Stingers that actually make it to Australian shores will be severely hampered during the first year on sale. Expect a maximum of 200 per month to be available, and we believe there will be no shortage of buyers lining up for these cars.
We’ll all find out soon enough how it goes, with the Kia Stinger officially on sale in Australia on October 1.