Review: KIA Stinger (2018)

Rating:

Excellent levels of standard equipment. Looks distinctive. Interior's pretty good.

Unsophisticated suspension and gearbox. Shallow boot.

Recently Added To This Review

27 March 2019

Report of warped brake discs on used KIA Stinger bought in September 2018 at 1,680 miles. Car booked in for the 19 November. Took until February 2019 to obtain the tool to check if the discs where warped.... Read more

8 January 2019

Issue of 21-12-2018 concering ex-demo KIA Stinger resolved by KIA supplying a brand new Stinger to the purchaser for an extra £3,000. Read more

21 December 2018

Report of alignment problems with ex-demonstrator KIA Stinger 3.3GTS bought at 7 months old in Jume 2018 at 1,500 miles. The car initially drifted slightly to the left. Owner put it down to road camber... Read more

KIA Stinger (2018): At A Glance

The Kia brand is synonymous with value. While you might picture vehicles like the Picanto city car and Ceed family hatch when you think of the Korean manufacturer, it also provides affordable alternatives to more upmarket cars. The Sportage, for example, is an excellent rival to the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, while its Stinger is set to take on the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5 and Volkswagen Arteon.

Don’t click away just yet. You may think that no self-respecting BMW or Audi driver would consider a Kia, but take a look at what you get for your money. The entry-level Stinger with its 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 255PS starts at £32,025. That’s around £2,600 less than a BMW 420i, which has quite a lot less power (184PS), two fewer doors and a much shorter list of standard kit. The Audi A5, meanwhile, starts at £33,845. And, like the BMW, you’ll need to go heavy with the options to bring it up to the specification of the Kia.

Even the cheapest Kia Stinger comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, heated leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, selectable drive modes, adaptive cruise control and - for enthusiastic drivers - a limited slip differential. For £35,525, the mid-range Stinger GT-Line S adds an electric tailgate, LED headlights, a Harman Kardon premium audio system and a panoramic sunroof.

The top-spec Stinger GT S costs £40,535 and features 19-inch alloys, hefty Brembo brakes and adaptive dampers, not to mention a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine producing 370PS. That’s enough to take it to 62mph in 4.9 seconds - faster than a £46,845 BMW 440i.

We’ve established that the Stinger does the ‘value for money’ thing quite well, then. But it’s also pretty good to drive. It’s not as polished as premium brands, but it handles very well, the chassis providing lots of feedback and moving around just enough to remind you that you’re in a fairly powerful rear-wheel-drive car.

The gearbox is a bit unrefined and we’d like a bit more compliancy in the suspension, but a Volkswagen Arteon doesn’t come close for driver enjoyment.

It’d have been easy for Kia to cut corners on the interior, and while you will find switchgear from lesser models, the cabin has a pretty upmarket vibe about it. Three turbine-style air vents dominate the dash, along with a large central touchscreen. You sit low down, helping the sporty feel, while a longer wheelbase than the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series mean there’s a reasonable amount of interior space (although adults in the rear might wish for a bit more legroom). The boot appears fairly big but it’s also fairly flat, meaning its 406 litres isn’t as impressive as rivals.

The Kia Stinger is not an obvious choice and might take a bit of explaining to people who don’t quite get what it’s all about. It’s an interesting alternative to premium German rivals, however, and its rarity means it turns heads in the way a BMW 4 Series never will. There are a number of drawbacks - the jerky gearbox and not-quite-premium cabin, for example - but that’s reflected in the price. In fact, we’d almost go as far as saying the Stinger is a modern day bargain.

Kia Stinger 3.3 GT S 2018 Road Test

What does a KIA Stinger (2018) cost?

List Price from £32,025
Buy new from £26,995
Contract hire from £274.13 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

KIA Stinger (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4830 mm
Width 1870 mm
Height 1400 mm
Wheelbase 2905 mm

Full specifications

The Stinger has the kind of interior that gets better the longer you spend in it. On first impressions, it's high quality without being excessive. There's no wood or strange veneers, and no mixed materials fighting for your attention. Even the three central and two rear ventilation nozzles feel premium, working beautifully and reminding us of the original Audi TT (in a good way).

With a bit of time, you start to realise how user-friendly the Stinger's cabin is. Many of the essential controls are duplicated or even triplicated, so you don’t have to fumble around in an impenetrable touch-screen menu just to adjust the climate control. You can turn up the radio on the steering wheel, by using a knob, or in one of the function menus: whatever suits you. Everything you want to know is easy to find. And all the switchgear is beautifully laid out and neatly designed. 

Eight-way adjustable front seats means it's easy to find a comfortable seating position, and the driver's seat drops very low to help the Stinger's sporty feel (also aided by the view over the long bonnet). Tall adults might be less comfortable in the rear, where legroom isn't as generous as you may expect, although the Stinger's slooping roofline doesn't hinder headroom too much.

Although the Stinger's interior isn't as plush as upmarket alternatives, it's different enough from other Kias to feel special. There could be a few more soft-touch materials and the infotainment system clearly isn't a premium system, but few buyers are going to feel short-changed by the Stinger's insides.

Specification (from July 2018):

All models have an 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming and is equipped with a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and a 7.0-inch TFT supervision cluster. A head-up display is also standard providing speed and navigation info, while GT-Line S and GT-S also have a 360-degree around-view monitor.

GT-Line has a nine-speaker sound system with front under-seat subwoofer, while the other two trim grades feature a 15-speaker harman/kardon premium sound system with subwoofer, external amp and front centre speaker.

Standard safety features to assist drivers on long journeys include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Speed Limit Information. GT-Line S and GT-S also have Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and GT-S is fitted with Brembo brakes. A limited slip differential is standard, as is an Active Bonnet to protect the heads of pedestrians in the event of a collision.

GT-Line and GT-Line S have 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tyres, while for GT-S the wheels are upgraded to 19 inches with tyres of 225/40R19 at the front and 225/35R19 at the rear. There are projection headlights on GT-Line, and full LED headlights on the other two trim grades. All versions have LED tail lamps and daytime running lights.

Leather upholstery in either black, grey or red is available on all trims, and in GT-S there is Nappa leather. Eight-way power-adjustable memory front seats are fitted to all models, along with a two-way power-adjustable cushion extender. Two-way side bolster adjustment is added in GT-S. The front seats are heated, along with the outer rear seats in GT-Line S and GT-S, which also have ventilated front seats. Adding to comfort and convenience is electrically operated tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment as standard across all grades.

There is a D-shaped leather-trimmed steering wheel and a leather and chrome gearshifter, leather on the dashboard and door armrests, an aluminium finish centre console, which also has a wireless phone charger, alloy pedals, stainless steel door scuff plates, suede headlining, dual automatic air conditioning, Smart Cruise Control with a speed limiter and a Smart Entry System with engine start/stop button. A powered tailgate is fitted to GT-Line S and GT-S.

GT-S has electronic suspension which can be set to one of five modes and variable gear ratio steering.

Stinger's standard paint finish is Sunset Yellow, while Pearl White, Midnight Black, Ceramic Silver, HiChroma Red and Panthera Metal are chargeable options.

Child seats that fit a KIA Stinger (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the KIA Stinger (2018) like to drive?

You may have noticed a note of hesitation about how well the Stinger drives in the introduction. It’s very good, for the money, but it’s also flawed in a number of areas. The gearbox, for example, is hesitant, and seems to take an age to change gear. Stick the cruise control on and, even at a fixed speed, it’ll jerkily flick between gears as it can’t decide which of the eight available is best suited to the conditions.

You can use the steering wheel paddles to take control if you like - and, while this is better for spirited driving, it’s still not fully manual. The automatic gearbox will override you if it thinks it knows better, and that’s frustrating if you’re mid bend with the tyres fully loaded up.

The standard suspension of the four-cylinder cars provides a smooth ride most of the time, but it’s not quite as polished as premium rivals when you do hit a bumpy stretch. The Stinger does weigh more than 2000kg, and it feels it.

Despite all that, the Stinger does handle a lot better than you’d expect for its size. For a budget GT car, it’s incredibly agile - with a front end that loves to dart in and a rear end that’ll follow obediently until you select Sport Plus mode. In which case, you’ll need your wits about you as even the 2.0-litre petrol has enough power to lose traction in the dry with a bit of provocation.

When you've got long distances to cover, the Stinger's GT side comes into play. It's a lovely companion for longer journeys - jerky gearbox aside - with little wind or road noise at motorway speeds. While not enough people have bought Stingers yet to report their Real MPG, our time with the 2.0-litre petrol proved its official 35.8mpg to be perfectly achievable with sensible driving. High mileage drivers will probably find the diesel to be a better option, but its 154g/km CO2 figure might make it expensive for company car users.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 T-GDi 34 mpg - 181 g/km
2.2 CRDi 49 mpg - 147 g/km
3.3 T-GDi 29 mpg - 225 g/km

Real MPG average for a KIA Stinger (2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

98%

Real MPG

23–34 mpg

MPGs submitted

10

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.