It’s amazing that the Kia Stinger even exists. It was a moonshot when it debuted and rumors had it dying for the 2022 model year instead of being refreshed. And here we are, thankful Kia is still selling a rear-wheel-drive (or AWD) hatchback-touting sedan that pays homage to the Audi A7/S7 while leaning heavily on its BMW-sourced inspiration. Mechanically similar to the Genesis G70, the Stinger’s elongated, hatchback design poses it to be an Audi A5 Sportback or A7 competitor, albeit at a much lower price point. The Kia Stinger is a unique proposition and a car unlike any other in its segment, and we spent a week with a fully loaded 2022 GT2 AWD V6 to see if it’s got the goods to back the punch-above-its-weight design.
The Stinger’s shape is immediately recognizable. Some elements are better than others, like the wraparound taillight lenses, and the grille is much better in person than in photos. The Stinger is an attractive vehicle, albeit a small one. At 190” nose-to-tail, it measures about the same length as a Toyota 4Runner. The Stinger doesn’t try to hide it, but it does try to do so with its driving dynamics. More on that later.
Inside the Stinger is a pleasant affair, both on the eyes and for the intended usage. The seats are comfortable with good adjustability and cushioning appropriately soft and hard in all the right places, though they’re likely tight at the waist for larger drivers due to aggressive bolstering down low but not towards the top. The headrests are pillow-soft, and the only ergonomic foibles are a pedal box that encroaches on your right foot a bit and a touchscreen that’s just a little further of a reach away than ideal.
The Stinger’s tech is good if a bit safe. CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and there’s a full suite of safety features that are expected for a high-trim 2022 model year car. The accent lighting that runs across the dashboard is a nice touch, if not a bit boy-racer, but it echoes the Stinger’s undertones. That you can change it to any color of your choosing is a cool party trick, but something we first saw in the 2005-era Ford Mustang GT. Still, if it’s good enough for Mercedes’ more expensive models, it’s good enough here.
The Stinger’s 3.3L twin-turbo V6 makes 368 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic sends power to all four wheels on our tester while RWD is standard, and there are meaty paddles for do-it-yourself shifting. The car weighs right around 4,000 pounds so the quoted 0-60 time is a mediocre 4.7 seconds. It’s not rip-roaring fast, but with AWD on board and healthy torque, the Stinger pulls hard out of corners and when accelerating up to highway speed. Power around town is impressive, and thanks to the weight and smoothness the Stinger always seems to be going a bit faster than you intended or expected. The engine and transmission help mask speed with ease.
A constant gripe with fake exhaust notes piped in through the speakers is that they’re just that. The Stinger’s is particularly strange, sounding more like a Subaru WRX flat-four than a twin-turbo V6. It’s welcome in Sport mode but might be too much for some. In Sport mode the actual exhaust makes decent noise; not particularly pleasing but decent sounding, and loud enough to know from the outside that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill sedan.
The Stinger’s steering is a mixed bag. In Sport mode it’s weighty, however, there isn’t much feedback or information transmitted through the wheel. You know roughly where the front tires are pointed and not much else. There’s a massive difference in the heft required to turn the wheel between the modes, and that’s appreciated. Still, the car feels better-suited to the less aggressive modes, allowing for a more relaxed grip on the wheel and less intensive care required for pointing the car in the right direction. Given the size and weight, we found light steering and Comfort suspension paired with aggressive throttle and transmission tuning is our go-to.
For the rough roads in Connecticut, I preferred Custom mode which allowed for the engine and transmission to be their sportiest, but the suspension and steering in their softest. This makes the Stinger a true Grand Tourer, easy where you want it to be and edgy for when your right foot desires. You can cover mileage quickly, even despite the 19” wheels causing a slightly crashy effect over bigger potholes and imperfections. We would happily road trip this cross-country.
The as-tested price for this particular GT2 AWD V6 was just shy of $56,000. That’s serious money, but it goes a long way here. Name a feature and the Stinger GT2 has it, and better yet it has a sporting mentality and chassis baked in. However, the standard GT1 starts at $43,890 and retains the performance goodies and physical goodness inherent to the Stinger’s shape. That would be our pick for how to buy one.
The Stinger is an interesting proposition. Hatchback versatility, unique styling, and strong power make for a vehicle unlike any other on the market. Even its Genesis G70 sibling is notably different. Where the Stinger excels is as a do-it-all tool, like an elongated VW GTI with wannabe-Audi A7 design language, RWD/AWD versatility, and sports-sedan influence all wrapped up in a car that’s still easy to daily drive or road trip. It’s a natural choice for someone who wants something rear-wheel-drive biased but that can still do it all. The Stinger isn’t particularly excellent at anything, but it’s genuinely good at a lot. Jack of all trades, master of none, and a car that we’re happy exists in the first place. It’ll be a shame when it goes away.