2018 Kia Stinger review: Kia’s Quattroporte

Introduction
Kia’s turning into something of the Madonna of the car industry. Already reinvented once in the last few decades when it went from making dowdy, undesirable but cheap cars, to a full portfolio of seriously good, stylish models designed and made for the European market, now it’s out to prove another point: That it can also make properly high-end, desirable luxury cars. Welcome to the Kia Stinger – the Korean brand’s answer to the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLS, Volkswagen Arteon and more.
Offered with four-cylinder diesel or petrol engines, or a potent turbocharged V6 as the range-topper, this four-door sports GT has got style swagger and performance to match its German rivals, and a usefully lower price as well.
Body Style: 5 door GT
Seats: 5
MRP from lb31,995-lb41,140
Did you know? Kia only expects to sell around 1800 Stingers per year, so it’ll have rarity factor on its side.

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Verdict
It’s hard not to be a little skeptical about Kia’s chances of really making a dent in the premium German ranks with the Stinger, but it certainly deserves to do just that. We haven’t yet tried the four-cylinder models, but the V6 GT S is a real joy to drive; more like a half-price Maserati than a slightly cheaper BMW. It’s got sumptuous, slick performance and comfort, truly striking looks and an interior that feels every bit the lb40k price tag. It’s not flawless, but it’s objectively excellent nonetheless, and seriously lovable as well.
We Like
Classy, expensive-feeling interior
Striking looks
Slick ride comfort
Refined, smooth V6
We Don’t Like
Not as sharp to drive as a BMW 4 Series
Poor real-world economy on GT S
Uncertain residual values

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Design
Well, it’s certainly attention-grabbing, isn’t it? And in a very good way. There’s certainly something Maserati-ish about the Stinger’s looks, particularly the rear lights and the steeply raked rear three-quarter pillar, while the front end is a touch more Germanic, with its gaping air ducts and sharky nose. Sure, some of those vents are fake, but we’ll live happily with that knowledge given how good the results are; Aggressive but not gaudy, attention-grabbing but classy. And that goes for all the models, given that even the smaller-engined ‘GT Line’ Stinger models still get 18-inch alloy wheels, the contrasting style highlights, and two- (for the diesel) or four- (for the petrol) exhausts. The full-fat V6 GT S gets 19in alloys among a few other tweaks to differentiate it.
It’s worth pointing out here that the Kia is, in fact, a bit bigger than the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe that are its natural rivals going by price and intent. Measuring in at over 4.8m long, it splits the difference between the A5 and A7 classes.


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Comfort
This was always going to be a critical aspect of the Kia Stinger, given that Kia’s interiors until now have been durable and perfectly acceptable aesthetically, but nothing to write home about – and certainly nothing you’d expect to pay as much as lb40k for. Well, Kia has done a spectacular job of going the extra mile with the Stinger’s perceived quality.
The standard leather – which covers the dash top, door panels and seats – feels of a seriously good quality. The seats are electrically adjusted as standard, and are comfortable and supportive enough, if decidedly closer to armchair than bucket-seat in nature. They’re certainly an excellence place from which to enjoy the logical dash layout and classy textures, ranging from that smooth leather to the smart-looking brushed aluminium. It all feels appropriately expensive, from the soft-damped switches and cubby lids to the mood lighting and solid-feeling rotary air-vents that are decidedly reminiscent of a Mercedes. We’d go so far as to say that it feels just as well-built and premium as a Merc, if a bit short of the benchmark set by Audi – ever the masters of interior quality.
The colour touchscreen, too, is fairly Mercedes-esque in the way it’s tacked onto the dash rather than built into the overall architecture, but it is high-set and easy to see. A standard head-up display and digital dials also mean that the driver has all the information there at a glance.
Visibility is pretty poor, though, particularly to the rear, so you’ll be making good use of the standard parking sensors and rear-view (or 360-degree on ‘S’ models) camera.
Practicality
As a lengthy four-door car, the Kia Stinger is good enough for light family use but it isn’t without compromises in the name of those looks. There’s enough head- and legroom in the back for an average-sized adult to sit comfortably behind a tall driver, but it’s not as roomy as the Audi, BMW or VW rivals and access is a bit tricky, too; those rear doors are long but the roof is low and the rear wheelarch cuts into the aperture so you have to execute a squat and slide manoevre in order to drop yourself into the rear seat without bashing your head.
The boot is a big hatch opening, and the load space is a broad square space so you can get a couple of big suitcases in over the high load lip. It’s a shallow boot, though – courtesy of that sleek, sloping silhouette – so sofa removals or even getting the family Labrador in without injury, will be tricky at best. Still, if you were overly worried about practicality you’d be looking at estates rather than swoopy GT cars. Generally the Kia will be an easy car to live with even if you’ve got a family in tow, as there are two Isofix fittings, and enough to space to keep two small people happy in the back.

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Technology & Connectivity
The Stinger gets pretty much everything as standard, including TomTom sat-nav software, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control, head-up display, DAB radio, USB ports in the front and back, and Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming. GT Line trim (the cheaper of the two trims offered on the four-cylinder models) get nine speakers, while GT-Line S and the GT S get a 15-speaker harmon/kardon system complete with wireless phone charging.
The standard 8-inch touchscreen is easy to use, and while it doesn’t have the sophisticated graphics of the top-spec systems offered in German rivals, you’d pay thousands to get the Stinger’s tech and audio equipment levels on an Audi or BMW.

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Performance & Handling
Performance
The Stinger is offered with three turbocharged engines – a 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel, a 244bhp 2.0-litre, 244bhp petrol, and a 365bhp V6 petrol. All are rear-wheel drive and are fitted with an eight-speed automatic.
We’re yet to try the lower-powered engines, but the V6 GT S is a thoroughly impressive GT. The gearbox is smooth and delivers virtually imperceptible changes when in Comfort mode, although it’s a bit slow if you want to use the paddles (which are small and have a clicky movement – one of the few cheap-feeling aspects of the Stinger).
Still, stick the Stinger GT S in Sport or Sport+ and everything sharpens up, the V6 engine starts to emit a subdued but aggressive burr and you can enjoy the silky, potent performance of the twin-turbo, 3.3-litre V6. It’ll fire the Stinger up the road to 60mph in well under five seconds, so it’s no slouch, but it is best driven at a hearty six- or seven-tenths, where you can enjoy the smooth, elastic spread of torque.
Handling and comfort
All Stinger models get clever suspension mechanicals and a limited-slip differential but there are two suspension setups – passive on GT Line cars and adaptive on the GT S. You can’t add the adaptive suspension to the lesser models, which is a bit of a shame since it’s so effective.
As soon as we can report back on the standard suspension of the four-cylinder Stinger models we will, but certainly the setup on the GT S is excellent. It’s supple enough to smooth out the worst of the UK’s roads, with only the odd noisy thunk over harsh potholes or expansion joints taken at high speed. Sport mode firms things up a bit, but still leaves the Stinger a comfortable cruiser.
Refinement is excellent on the V6, too, with very little vibration through the controls and minimal wind and engine noise on the GT S. It’s a properly serene car, the GT S, although our test car did have a few persistent creaks from around the door seals.
The GT S also gets different steering to the rest of the Stinger range, with a variable ratio rack that means you can swing into very tight corners with less steering input. While not the most feelsome steering, it makes the Kia easy and precise to place on the road, being both light enough to make easy work of around-town mooching, and good enough to satisfy on the occasional b-road attack.
Ultimately, the Stinger GT S gets down the road with fluid ease, and the kind of loping, nonchalant pace that characterises excellent GT cars. You could cross continents in the Stinger and feel very smug about it, too. Whether that’s the case with the smaller engined models, we’ll have to report back soon.
It’s also unavoidable that some buyers will be put off by the lack of four-wheel drive – something that the Kia’s rivals, including the Audi S5, various BMW 4 Series models and slinky saloons on offer from various brands, all offer as standard or as an option. As it is, the Stinger is a bit lairy in damp conditions but is a manageable and entertaining drive nonetheless.
Recommended engine: GT S
0-62 MPH
4.9 seconds
Fuel economy
26.6 mpg
Emissions
225g/km


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Safety
The Kia fared well in Euro NCAP crash tests, getting the full five stars and a healthy 93% for adult protection and 82% for safety assist. Every Kia Stinger gets seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, automatic high beam assist, a warning system to tell you when you should probably stop for a break, and speed limit information beamed onto your dash. GT-Line S and GT S models also get rear cross traffic alert, which tells you if there’s oncoming traffic when you’re reversing out of a space or driveway, and blind spot warning that tells you if there’s a car to the rear three quarters that you haven’t seen. The GT S also gets uprated brakes, co-developed with Brembo, which are effective and easy to modulate.
Two Isofix fittings in the rear seats allow the Stinger to double up as a family wagon if you want it to, although the 81% child safety rating from Euro NCAP is lower than you might hope for.
There are no safety options – you get the kit that’s standard and that’s it, but then the standard equipment is right up there with the best rivals.


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Spec & Trim Levels
Colours
The Stinger is available in just six colours, and the only standard one is – very oddly – bright yellow. So it’s well worth finding the lb645 for one of the other colours, which include blacks, greys and silvers, or our favourites – the HiChrome red metallic or Ceramic Grey shown above and also featured in the full gallery below. Interior colours are well-judged, so you can have sedate blacks and greys, or the deep red leather is a great contrast to the grey exterior and standard aluminium finish on the centre console.
Trim Levels
The four-cylinder Stinger models are available in either GT-Line or GT-Line S, the latter of which has the same equipment as the range-topping GT S.
All are very well equipped, so even the entry level GT-Line gets leather interior, eight-way electrically adjustable front seats with memory function for the driver, heated steering wheel and front seats, climate control, cruise control, head-up display, 18-inch alloys, parking sensors and reversing camera, auto lights and wipers and keyless go. GT-Line S adds 19-inch alloys, sunroof heated and cooled front seats, heated outer rear seats, 360-degree parking camera and blind spot warning.

Size and Dimensions
Length
4,830mm
Width
1,870mm
Height
1,400mm
Max towing weight unbraked – braked
TBC – 1500kg

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Fuel Economy
The GT S version of the Stinger that we’ve driven is certainly not going to be a cheap car to run. We saw around 21mpg in varied real-world use, and it didn’t creep much beyond that even in motorway use. Not only that, but the 225/40 R19 tyres aren’t going to be cheap to replace, and the Group 42 insurance rating is a bit higher than that of a BMW 440i or Audi S5.
The diesel promises far better economy, returning 154g/km and over 50mpg in official government tests, but equivalent diesel models from most rival manufacturers will do significantly better than that, and the four-cylinder petrol is also rather overshadowed by similarly potent yet cleaner alternatives. Efficiency is not the Kia’s strong suit.
Resale values are very uncertain; official industry depreciation forecasters reckon it could even hold onto its value better than German rivals after three years, not least thanks to the small numbers being produced. However, we’d be cautious about that as the Stinger is a new market for Kia and brand desirability – fickle as it is – plays a big part. The crystal ball isn’t revealing much on this one, but you’re taking a risk whatever model you go for if you’re buying the car outright with the intention of selling on in the future.
Reliability and servicing
Kia is well known for its industry-leading seven year warranty, and the Stinger is no exception to this; and a seven year, 100,000 mile manufacturer warranty is quite something in a class where most protagonists only offer three years.
Otherwise it’s hard to pass judgement on reliability given the lack of any history on the model, but Kia as a brand generally does very well on reliability according to owner surveys.
It’s worth noting that the petrol models are subject to very frequent service intervals, needing to see the inside of a Kia service department every six months or 6000 miles. The diesels are less high maintenance, needing a check-up every 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Minor
6 months or 6000 miles (petrol)
12months or 12000 miles (diesel)
Major
12months or 12000 miles

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Pricing
The Kia is very keenly priced, particularly given how well equipped it is. Most models look like they’re a couple of thousand less than an equivalent A5 Sportback or 4 Series Gran Coupe, but if you spec up the German cars to the same level as the Kia then you’re looking at something like lb8000 of difference or more.
This comes with a tale of caution, though, as resale values are very uncertain; official industry depreciation forecasters reckon it could even hold onto its value better than German rivals after three years, not least thanks to the small numbers being produced. However, we’d be cautious about that as the Stinger is a new market for Kia, and one where brand desirability – fickle as it is – plays a big part. The crystal ball isn’t revealing much on this one, but you’re taking a risk whatever model you go for.
Kia will happily offer you monthly payments that will again undercut the German rivals, but possibly not by as much as you’d hope. Put down a lb5000 deposit on a three year PCP contract, and the 2.0-litre petrol will cost just under lb500 per month, the 2.2 CRDi around lb550 per month on a three year contract, and the GT S a slightly painful lb670 per month.
Recommendations
Trend Setter
All Stinger models look the business, but the GT S or petrol GT Line S with their quad exhausts and 19-inch alloys are particularly eye-catching.
Car Enthusiast
GT S all the way – it’s a proper cut-price Maserati Quattroporte.
Luxury Seeker
GT S is a seriously luxurious thing, and the one to go for if you want to waft around in indulgent sumptuousness
Rivals
Audi A5 Sportback
Neater inside, much more efficient and offered with a better range of engines, but short of the Kia’s charm and style
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
Both a great GT and a sharper handling car than the Kia, with a broad array of excellent engines to choose from
Volkswagen Arteon
Not as exciting as the Kia to look at or to drive, but similarly good value and more spacious.
Jaguar XF
The sleek Jag saloon is within price range of the Kia and is great to drive. The Kia has the more solid-feeling interior, though.
Mercedes C-Class
The C-Class saloon is the closest rival that Merc offers for the Kia, but it doesn’t feel as special. The CLA, while smaller, or the CLS, while bigger and more expensive, are arguably more in the same vein.

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