Hooniverse Asks: We're about to drive the new Kia Stinger, what do you want to know?

Today, I’m in Hollywood to attend a launch event for Kia’s latest machine. It’s the 2018 Kia Stinger and it has its sight set on some lofty goals. Is this really a potential BMW 3-Series or Infiniti Q50 competitor?
That I don’t know yet, but I do know that I am incredibly intrigued by the idea of a rear-wheel-drive (or all-wheel-drive if you want it) sports sedan/hatchback.
There’s a four-cylinder engine offered, but we’re here to sample the larger 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and its 365 horsepower output.
I worry that this will be a car that I’ll really enjoy… and no one will buy. Regardless, it’s nearly time for me to take the keys to one. What do you want to know about it?
I’ll put my thoughts in the video review and also answer some questions here later in the day.


  1. Is it bigger than the 3 series? Do you think it could be seen as a replacement/alternative for the automatic version of the Chevy SS? And on that note, is it more of a cruiser than a high performance sedan? Would it appeal to those who liked the SS?

    1. The Stinger is 190.2″ long on a 114.4″ wheelbase, interior space is quite comparable to the SS. An Australian site has done a comparison test with an SS-V and noted that toe/foot room was the main area of difference for the rear seat passenger although I expect headroom would be down a bit too.
      The Stinger also recorded faster acceleration times than the SS-V despite having less power and more weight. 2 extra gears help no doubt because it was half a second quicker to 60km/h, but also had roughly 3 mph higher terminal speed at the end of the 1/4 mile.

    2. It should definitely appeal to the SS fans, great point.
      Kia wasn’t calling this its competitive set but it has very lofty *reference* vehicles by which it’s measured:
      -BMW 440 and 640 gran coupes
      -Audi S5 Sportback
      -Infiniti Q50
      -Porsche Panamera (base model)

    1. This is actually rivaling the S5 Sportback, believe it or not.
      The S5 has much more dialed in suspension, but the Stinger GT pulls hard out of corners pretty nicely thanks to the optional mechanical rear diff. Also, the AWD models have torque vectoring.
      The S5 Sportback is a brilliant driving machine. The Kia Stinger GT is …very close. I’ll have more idiot-based fun with the RWD side of things, that’s for sure.

      1. Very interesting. Im curious to see how the 2 liter performs. Not much reviews going about on this car as of now. But I’ll be waiting for yours. Anyways thanks for your time!

  2. My 17yo daughter has a Kia (2012 Forte Koup SX, which replaced the 2010 EX (5-sp man) that she totaled. The 2.4 in the SX is a big improvement over the 2.0 that was in the EX, but they’re both thirsty. The best she got out of the 2.0 (she drives like a grandma) was 24 in town, and 20 with the 2.4 (with ECO mode turned on).

  3. I’m mostly in for the driving impressions (got to poke around a preproduction model in the summer), but big question, how well does it burn out? Like, on a scale from Abba to Dead Milkmen, how’re the lawn doughnuts gonna be in 10 years when these are cheap?

    1. So… it can do a bit of a burnout, but I wanted a brake stand.
      When you put the Stinger GT into full nannies off mode and the drive mode into Sport, you activate the ability for a Launch Mode.
      Foot on Brake, Press down Throttle, a chime lets you know its ready, lift off Brake. Sounds cool but it’s merely okay… but what that does is eliminate the ability to brake stand the car.
      I’m going to experiment and see if I can get around that in a future drive of the car though… I have ideas.

    1. Snark aside – honest question – why is Kia making this? Chevrolet just ended production of this exact car, right down to the front fender trim (well, if this car made 50 more hp and had a manual as an option ;)) and they couldn’t sell more than a couple thousand a year. Is it simply a showroom driver to get people in the door so they’ll buy an Optima?

      1. Probably so. Many folks won’t buy a Kia/Hyundai because they think of the Excel, the company wants consumers to think that the stuff they build is more than “A Nissan but cheaper and worse”. They actually have to do that once or twice before they can bank on the impression. Hyundai is going that way with the Genesis; Kia never has had anything that wasn’t a mid-pack averagemobile. Chevy has big trucks and SUV’s to keep them occasionally solvent, not sure why they bothered with the SS.

        1. I’m not sure why Chevy bothered with the SS either, but I’d like to hope that it was actually BECAUSE they had trucks and SUVs to keep them afloat, and some gearheads in product planning managed to use that to make a case for taking a risk on something like the SS. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out, and I can’t complain since I didn’t buy one, either, but it was nice to see while it lasted.
          In Kia’s case, I agree, this is probably a halo car. From what little I’ve read about it so far, though, they could have done a lot worse as far as showroom darlings go. Of course, if it is destined to be a low-volume loss leader, it’d be nice to see them just go for it and fit a manual. I’d say that I imagine there to be a niche for a full size, rear drive, manual trans GT (especially with the Germans moving away from manuals), but again, SS…

          1. This got lost for a while, but to clarify, I love the SS as a car and have thought long and hard about trading my daily driver truck (ha!) in on one. Just seems like GM’s heart wasn’t in on a vehicle that required heart to build in the first place.

        2. As the proud (former) owner of a Pontiac G8 GT and someone who’s driven it’s sister, the Chevy SS, I can say that they both were spectacular vehicles. I think Chevy dropped the ball completely with the styling and they never really promoted it. It just looks too much like a Malibu. I think if they promoted the SS the way Dodge promotes the Charger, they would have sold a lot more of them. Either way, I’m excited to drive an AWD version of the Stinger and possibly buy one. I’d be fine not seeing many of them, as it would be different than almost every other car on the road. I hardly ever see any Pontiac G8’s on the road…ever. When I owned one, a lot of people would stop me and ask what it was because they’ve never seen one. I’m guessing it’ll be the same with the Stinger.

          1. I actually just came back to add, as an addendum to my prior comment, that the SS’ major downfall in my eyes (well, other than its interior quality, because Chevy) was its styling. It mostly looked like any other big-ish Chevy (Malibu, especially), which is to say kind of bland and, to be brutally honest, rental car-ish. The Stinger has the advantage of looking like nothing else in the Kia portfolio, and actually quite handsome, in my opinion, so I’m hopeful that it will be more successful at carving out a niche for itself. As you note, the SS also didn’t get the kind of promotion that it could have used, and if the media about the Stinger so far is any indication, Kia won’t be making that mistake.
            I’d be interested to check out a Stinger in person, but the lack of a 3-pedal option probably knocks it out of any future purchase considerations for me, unfortunately. Sooner or later I’ll need to replace my current car (2011 WRX 5-door; thankfully that’s nowhere on the radar yet, but I don’t expect it to last forever), and when I do I suppose it ought to be with something a bit more “adult”. The Stinger and Alfa Giulia were among rather few new options that really grabbed my attention…and then Alfa decided not to bring the manual across the pond and the Stinger just didn’t get one. Wonder what the used market for Chevy SS’s will look like in another 5-10 years…

          2. As the proud owner of a 6 speed manual SS (well, technically, the title is in MiSSus GTXcellent’s name) I don’t think Chevy dropped the ball on styling – and I’d go a step further and say that Kia completely copied the SS
            Check out the side profiles – it’s the same car!
            Check out the hood vents. Look at the front. It’s the same car.
            I think the Kia is a great looking car. Has an awesome name, and merely lacks a clutch pedal to be perfect. I just don’t think it will sell.

          3. I love the SS, but don’t think these cars look anything alike, beyond both being RWD sedans with expectedly similar proportions. The nose of the Chevy sticks out further, the rocker panel is straighter, the rear door glass has a different profile, the D pillar terminates sooner on the trunk, and the front and rear fascias are completely different. If anything, the KIA has a Maserati vibe to it, and the SS (while moderately handsome) is much more traditionally/conservatively styled. The SS is a great car, but I consider its look neither interesting nor beautiful.

        3. The SS was supposed to be the hot police car and was brought to the US for that purpose. Its just that the cops went w Tahoes in large numbers. SS languished.

      2. If nothing else, the SS is about $15k more than a base Stinger (which comes in just $1500 over an Optima 2.0T). At that sort of pricing, and size, they’re clearly aiming hard for the 4-Series Gran Coupe and A5 Sportback, and at least unlike Chevrolet, they seem to be advertising the thing.

        1. Good point– the marketing of the SS was terrible, but surprisingly, manuals were almost non-existent on the lots, and dealer markup was excessive.

      3. I think it’s trying to be the car that fully transitions the minds of the car buying public from
        “It’s not bad… for a Kia” to “Man, Kia makes some good cars”
        Will it do that? I’m on the fence as the public has a hard time moving on from preconceived notions about a given automaker.
        This Stinger GT is pretty damn good though.

      4. Hyundai/Kia wishes to be something it isn’t. Hyundai/Kia sees what Toyota did with Lexus, and wants “in” on that deal.
        Trouble is, Infiniti, Acura, hell, even Mercury and Oldsmobile have all tried to get a piece of the “near luxury” mass market. They have all mostly failed, though Infiniti is moving some metal, but its brand image remains entirely muddled.

    2. Exactly. I’m a current KIA driver, and this is my question. Make it a three-pedal affair, and I’m in.

    3. it is believed that electronic stability control does not allow engine torque output with brake applied.

    1. What JayP said. RWD, Twin Turbo, closing in on 400 lb-ft of torque.
      Also, former BMW M Chief Engineer Albert Biermann had a hand in the development of the car.

  4. 1) Is Kia going to continue using actual words for model names? Not focus-grouped, vowel-heavy fake names, or the ubiquitous, passé and annoying alphanumeric soup? I approve. Encourage them. Stinger… see, doesn’t that make it sound just a bit more interesting? That is, if the car measures up.
    2) Since this is the twin-turbo V6 experience coming up, one for the back burner: How will the 4-cylinder version compare to FWD competitors of the same size? With less power, will RWD be that noticeable a difference, or more of a novelty? I prefer RWD, so I’m interested to hear how it performs in the Stinger.

    1. Good call on the naming, I agree
      I look forward to sampling the 4 cyl. It saves a few pounds at the curb and has a decent jump in fuel economy.

  5. Is it true to Kia’s…soul?
    Yes, yes, I’ll be showing myself out. I’m impressed by Kia trying to sell the Stinger in Norway. Prices start at 70500$ for the 2.2CDi or 126000$ for the 3.3 twin turbo 4WD. I guess my kids will have moved out when I’m ready to trace the few dealer showroom models of the latter in a generation’s time…

    1. That’s even more expensive than in the Netherlands (2.2 diesel: €59k, 2.0t: €67k, 3.3tt: €99k). No one is going to buy one when they’re priced that way. Especially that 3.6tt: €41k price + €8.5k VAT + €49.5k emission tax = €99k. You can buy a BMW 340i + a BMW 318i for that one Kia Stinger.
      I wanted to check prices in Germany as they don’t have significant emissions related taxes there. However, the Kia website required a Flash plugin to show the configurator. In 2017. I guess it’s a sign: they don’t care and have this thing designed for the North American market. Anyway, I did find a PDF pricelist. €55k for the 3.3tt. A BMW 340i starts at €52k, €54k for the xDrive version. The Stinger will remain a rare car…

      1. Yes, I absolutely agree. I am not even sure if my perception of Kia and BMW build quality, with Kia being a very strong brand right now, and BMW having had its share of troubles until very recently, is being shared by new car buyers of these two. It’s a slim market for sports sedans to begin with. If they’d make a wagon though…

      1. Paddles might make it quicker, but not more engaging. If I wanted an Xbox controller, I’d play Forza.

    1. Like the mythical brown diesel manual wagon. Enthusiasts crow about wanting one, yet when one is produced, it lingers on the lot.

      1. The manual Chevrolet SS certainly didn’t linger on the lots. You could never find one— only automatics.

        1. The SS situation doesn’t really provide any meaningful lessons. Low production, no marketing whatsoever, and the Holden plant closure imminent…..it was a blip…and the SS V8 with manual will be a valuable collector item in 2067…..not that anyone will know how to drive one….

          1. Well, that’s the best example I can think of. To what mythical manual do you refer, that has languished on the lots?

  6. Maybe Kia/Hyundai are looking to a future in NASCAR and need a car in this class. Do they have a heavy truck with a pushrod V8 somewhere in their domestic lineup? Just kidding, but…

        1. They had two examples at the lunch spot with wheels, minor body kit pieces, intakes, and exhaust. So they’re already working on some stuff

  7. Why would somebody pay Infiniti Q50 money for this?
    How does Kia think it can keep premium level buyers satisfied with their purchasing and service experiences at Kia dealers…long known as the scum of the dealer world?
    Why have they priced it so high…when they will inevtibably be forced to put lots of cash on the hood to move inventory…why not start with the right price in the first place?
    Why so many trim levels when three would be much better, less confusing?

    1. I think the dealer level stuff has evolved so that shouldn’t (hopefully) be an issue.
      Infiniti money yes, BMW/Audi money is tougher.
      It’s not priced that high, on paper. But I imagine you can pick one up down the road for a pretty damn sweet price.

    2. I’d sooner buy the Stinger than a Q50. Infiniti’s melted-taffy styling hasn’t appealed to me at all lately. Seems like they’re misguidedly chasing Lexus design.

  8. I don’t have anything profound to add: But I am happy to see any manufacturer who brings out a ‘halo’ model in a format other than SUV, CUV or ‘fake coupe’. The “family sedan/hatch with a driver focus” — from a non-‘premium’ brand — takes me nostalgically back to the good old days of the Sierra/Sapphire Cosworth, Peugeot Mi16 etc.

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