UK Drive: Kia’s Stinger GT S combines performance and value-for-money

By Jack Evans

What is it?

Entering into the hugely competitive sports saloon segment comes this – the Kia Stinger GT S. Though perhaps better known for making compact and well-priced hatchbacks, this is a more premium offering from the South Korean manufacturer.

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However, don’t think to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, as the Stinger weighs into battle with some impressive armour – a 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 sits under the bonnet, and sends power to the rear wheels only. Make no mistake, this is a fully-fledged sports saloon designed to take on offerings from established German rivals.

What’s new?

There’s a lot to talk about with the Stinger. The model we’ve got here is the range-topping GT S version. Powered by that previously mentioned V6, it sits above other Stingers powered by smaller-capacity diesel and petrol engines. It sits in the range alongside the Optima saloon but is designed to be a far more premium machine than that car.

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It’s got enough room inside for five, and has a decent sized boot too – making it ideal for those who want to take people long distances in plenty of comfort – while bringing all of their luggage along.

What’s under the bonnet?

As mentioned earlier, the Stinger GT S is powered by a 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 engine with 365bhp and 510Nm of torque. Kia claims that it’s enough power to get the Stinger from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 168mph.

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Drive is sent to the rear wheels only via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Helping to bring the car to a halt are high-performance Brembo brakes on all four corners, along with adjustable dampers which allow the car’s ride to be tailored with one of five different drive modes. In short, there’s a lot of kit here – and plenty more than you’d expect given the car’s £40,535 base price.

What’s it like to drive?

Kia has worked hard on the ways its cars feel and handle. The i30N hot hatch, for instance, is more than a rival for the Volkswagen GTI – both in terms of the way it drives and its value-for-money.

The way the Stinger covers ground is just as impressive. The steering is precise and has a decent amount of heft to it, even if there’s little feel to speak of. It allows you to accurately place the car, despite the Stinger’s relatively high kerbweight of 1,907kg – and Audi S5 Sportback is 1,660kg, in contrast. This can be felt at certain times, such as when leaning into longer bends, but the car does well to manage this for the majority of the time.

How does it look?

There’s little on the road today which looks quite like the Kia Stinger. The family ‘Tiger Nose’ grille sits at the front of the car, and works together with the angled LED headlights to create a rather imposing forward section. It’s a big car – there’s no doubt about that – but the car’s styling does well to mask this overall bulk, with side air inlets and large 19-inch alloy wheels helping to create an aesthetic which is altogether purposeful without looking too ‘out-there’.

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The rear of the car is just as impressive to look at as the front thanks to sleek wraparound taillights and angry looking quad exhaust pipes. It’s an overall design which has been well-judged and well executed.

What’s it like inside?

The Stinger’s interior ticks many boxes. The overall material quality is good, with an Alcantara headliner and brushed steel-effect elements helping to give the cabin a high-end feel. The seats have plenty of support, and were both heated and ventilated in our test car making them even more comfortable.

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There’s decent space in the back too. Taller passengers may have their headroom cut down by the sloping roofline somewhat, but for the vast majority of people it’ll be a comfortable place to spend a journey.

Boot space isn’t half bad either. The 406 litres of load area that you get in the Stinger may be smaller than the 480 litres that you’ll find in the Audi S5 Sportback, but it’s more than enough for a few suitcases or a decent size shop.

What’s the spec like?

Standard equipment is really where the Stinger comes into its own. For the car’s £40,535 entry price, there’s an impressive amount of kit, including a full infotainment system accessed via an eight-inch colour touchscreen display, electrically-adjustable sports seats, electric sunroof and adaptive cruise control.

Being a Kia, the Stinger is also accompanied by the manufacturer’s full seven-year or 100,000 warranty, which is transferable between owners. It means that should anything go wrong, you have peace of mind that it’ll be sorted by the manufacturer.

Plenty of exterior touches come as part of the overall cost, too. Large 19-inch alloy wheels feature as standard, as do LED headlights with automatic levelling and rain-sensing front wipers. It’s an awful lot of kit, and if added to any other rival vehicle would skyrocket their price far beyond the Kia’s.

Verdict

The Kia Stinger makes for exceptionally good value-for-money. It’s reasonably quick, offers up decently involving handling and is pretty spacious inside too. Its high kerbweight can make it feel a little lardy at times, but this really isn’t too much of an issue. What you’re looking at here is a very well specified alternative to more traditional – and more expensive – rivals, and is one well worth considering if you’re in the market for a premium sport saloon.

  • Model as tested: Kia Stinger GT S
  • Price: £40,535
  • Engine: 3.3-litre turbocharged V6
  • Power (bhp): 365
  • Torque (Nm): 510
  • Max speed (mph): 168
  • 0-60mph: 4.7
  • MPG: 28.5
  • Emissions (g/km): 225