A five-passenger sport back poised to redefine a segment currently populated by European automakers, the Kia Stinger promises to be the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history. Offered in five trim levels (Stinger, Premium, GT, GT1, GT2) and luxurious accommodations, the Stinger is now available in Australia.
“Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us and after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world, that dream is now a reality,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “From its GT Concept-car origins to its tuning and refining on the legendary Nürburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning.”
Instantly recognizable as a direct evolution of the concept that preceded it, the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger design was overseen by Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer, and his talented team of designers in Frankfurt. Ride and handling development was looked after by Albert Biermann, head of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development and his group of engineers in Korea and on the grueling Nürburgring racing circuit.
But what makes a true gran turismo? This question was the foundation for a years-long journey that began when the GT Concept was first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Although every Kia design study has a purpose, the GT Concept was something considered by many outside the company as little more than a dream for a brand known for producing mass-market transportation rooted in value. But the GT Concept ignited embers of passion that sparked a fire within the organization and, over the next five years, that fire would grow beyond fantasy and morph into reality.
Once the Stinger was green lighted, that gran turismo question became a mantra as development commenced. Coming from Kia, the design had to be bold. And it was. But it also had to be nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet. It had to achieve the perfect balance of ride and handling and seat five comfortably with room for luggage. It had to be a lot of things, but most of all, it had to be an authentic gran turismo. And it is.
Key to its road presence are the rear-wheel-drive proportions; a long hood and short front overhang, an extended wheelbase to deliver a spacious cabin, and a long rear overhang with strong shoulders. The Stinger’s stance and visual balance are designed to lend the car an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than boy-racer aggression.
The wide front and rear track, along with the recessed contours along the doors, enhance the visual power of the Stinger’s shoulder line as well as its sportback silhouette. Other functional elements of the exterior design include large air intakes and air curtains in the front, a smooth underbody, and a rear diffuser on the GT trim enhances aerodynamics, while also reducing lift. The rear valance houses four oval exhaust pipes.
Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille sits proudly between complex LED headlamps.
The low-slung cabin with its steeply raked windshield and backlight sits toward the rear of vehicle, creating a fast silhouette. Inside is a space dedicated to the thrill of driving while cossetting the occupants in luxury. Typically a high-cost option on most competitors, all Stingers come standard with a leather-appointed interior. Available ultra-soft Nappa
leather covers the deeply contoured seats and the driver’s seat has available air-cell bladders in the seatback and width-adjusting bolsters for optimal support and comfort.
A confident dashboard creates a strong horizontal plane for the driver to work behind. The centre console is intuitively split into two specific areas: the infotainment controls sit neatly below a large colour touchscreen, while the climate and ventilation controls nestle beneath. Front and centre of the driver is a thick hand- stitched multifunction leather- wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters; the GT trim gets a “D” shaped steering wheel. The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles. An available colour TFT screen between the gauges relays performance data such as cornering G-forces3, lap times and engine-oil temperature, along with ancillary information such as the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics4.
Kia’s aerodynamicists found that reducing the height of the rear of the roof enhanced the fastback’s ‘aerofoil’ shape and improved the Stinger’s aerodynamic efficiency at the same time. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.30 Cd.
Joining the company from BMW in December, 2014, Albert Biermann’s first look at the Stinger signaled to him a car that had to live up to its stunning design from behind the wheel. “I think for the Kia brand, the Stinger is a very special moment in time,” notes Biermann. “Because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It’s a whole different animal.”
The car’s development took place across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North and South America, but the Nürburgring’s grueling Nordschleife is where the Stinger was honed. With 73 corners, nearly 1,000 feet of elevation and 17 percent gradients, the “Green Hell” can chew up and spit out
a car of lesser mettle in just one lap. Kia’s engineers put every development Stinger through a minimum of 480 laps (equivalent to 6,214 miles) of high-stress driving around the Nordschleife for quality, reliability and durability testing. The constant combination of hard acceleration, rapid deceleration, heavy cornering, changing surfaces and camber offers an unrivaled test of dynamic prowess and the distance covered during the Stinger’s development resulted in nearly 100,000 miles of on-road testing.
Setting the manufacturing hard- points of the body-in-white would define Stinger and the engineers looked carefully across a landscape dotted with contenders. At 114.4 inches, the Stinger’s wheelbase is longer than the Audi A5 Sportback, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe and the Lexus GS5. It’s also longer overall (190.2 inches) and wider (73.6 inches) than several others in the segment. With a generous 23.3 cu.-ft. of cargo space, the Stinger’s cargo area is also larger than many of its competitors, with enough space for full-size luggage or golf bags and a power liftgate with Smart Trunk functionality is available. The spacious accommodations provide more interior volume than its competitors, including the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, 4 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A5 Sportback, and the Lexus GS6.
If the chassis symbolizes the bones of a gran turismo, the available powertrains represent its heart. Oriented longitudinally and set rearward beneath the long, sculpted hood, a choice of two turbocharged engines are available.
The 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder Theta II engine produces 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm with 260 lb.-ft. of maximum torque available from 1,400 – 4,000 rpm, propelling the Stinger from 0-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds8. Performance credentials are further enhanced through the available 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which produces 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and offers 376 lb.-ft. of torque from
1,350 – 4,500 rpm. With more power on tap than the Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 440i Gran Coupe, and Infiniti Q509, the Stinger GT is positioned to be a worthy challenger to the competition. As such, the Stinger GT accelerates to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds10, quicker than the six- cylinder Porsche Panamera11.
Pushing the twin turbocharged V6 to its full potential will allow the Stinger GT to achieve a governed top speed of 167 mph12.