Making a sporty statement
In the last few years, Kia has carved a solid lane for itself building smart-looking sensible four doors, crossovers and even an electric cute-ute. That’s why the world took notice when a production fastback sport sedan was announced in 2018: the Stinger.
This grand tourer — first teased as a concept back in 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show — has gotten a lot of press and it’s well deserved. A combination of bold styling, practicality and spirited performance, the vehicle has brought some much-needed exuberance to the growing brand.
“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,” says Orth Hedrick, product planning vice president at Kia Motors America, in a news release. “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.” Former Audi designer Peter Schreyer and his team are responsible for the exterior’s sleek form. The now-iconic Tiger Nose grille sits front and centre, flanked by optional LED headlamps. Below is a pair of combination air intakes and curtains that, together with a smooth underbody, enhance aerodynamics and reduce lift.
The side view is equally impressive, featuring short front and rear overhangs, a gently sloping roof and rear window and muscular character lines.
In person, the Stinger appears quite long especially when parked next to other cars. That extended wheelbase, however, is what affords the exceptional interior comfort. First off, the cabin is roomy, which is not an attribute you might expect in this segment. Drivers do sit rather low, but not annoyingly so to the point where the view of the surroundings is compromised. All grades are swathed in leather, and for an extra cost can be upgraded to the ultra-soft Nappa variety. One immediately noticeable bummer? Among all that real estate overhead, there’s no moonroof to open and soak up a few rays on the road.
The D-shaped steering wheel feels good in hand, and I love that Kia went with a T-shaped gear lever in an age when manufacturers are increasingly turning to transmission select knobs or buttons. The audio already sounded excellent spilling out of the nine speakers in our new-for-2019 GT-Line spec tester’s stereo, although true enthusiasts will appreciate the available 720-watt Harman Kardon system. GT cars are made for cruising, and the Stinger’s rigid chassis and tuned suspension soaked up all the bumps while providing sharp handling as I navigated twisty bits of Vancouver freeway.
Under the hood of the GT-Line model that as mentioned was launched, is a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. No, it’s not even close to the 365 horses offered by the bi-turbo 3.3-litre V6 in the higher trims, however not everyone is after achieving the fastest lap times and the four banger is perfect for around town motoring. To kick things up a notch, rotate the Drive Mode dial on the centre console to Sport and the computer instantly alters throttle response and shift patterns towards more fun operation. For example, lower gears are held longer — unfortunately no change takes place in exhaust noise. If anything, a loud whiney sound emanates from the transmission. The 2019 Kia Stinger GT-Line is in dealerships now, starting at $39,995.
Motor: 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Horsepower: 255 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 260 @ 1,400 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 12.3 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)