A five-seat fastback sports saloon, the high-performance Stinger promises to shake up a segment dominated by European products. Eventually to be offered with multiple powertrain configurations and luxurious accommodation, the Stinger will arrive in markets around the world later this year.
Instantly recognisable as a direct evolution of the GT concept that preceded it, the stunning 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 gruelling Nurburgring racing circuit.
Coming from Kia, the design had to be bold. And it was. But it also had to be nimble and fast whilst 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.
From its sleek front through its svelte flanks, and up to its powerful haunches, the Stinger exudes a muscular confidence. Key to its road presence are the rear-wheel-drive proportions, a long bonnet 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 boyracer aggression.
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. Ultra-soft Nappa leather covers the deeply contoured seats and the driver’s seat has available air-cell bladders in the seatback and bolsters for optimal support and comfort.
A confident dashboard creates a strong horizontal plane for the driver to work with. 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.
Ahead of the driver is a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a single instrument binnacle with a combination of analogue and digital instrumentation. The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles. A colour TFT screen between the gauges relays performance data such as cornering g-forces, lap times and engine-oil temperature, along with ancillary information such as the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.
The MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension has been tuned to provide optimal feedback to the driver. A Kia first, ride-damping and vehicle-handling traits may be modified by the driver through an electronically adjustable suspension known as Dynamic Stability Damping Control.
Whilst always reacting predictably to the driver’s inputs, depending on road conditions and driving style, the Stinger can be tuned to respond with more agility through corners as the system softens the front shocks and firms up the rear. Conversely, improved high-speed stability is achieved when the system stiffens the front shocks and softens the rear.
The system is accessed through five drive modes (another Kia first): Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart.
If the chassis symbolises the bones of a gran turismo, then the available powertrains represent its heart. Oriented longitudinally and set rearward beneath the long, sculpted bonnet, a choice of two turbocharged engines are available, initially.
Both engines are still under final development, but the standard 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder Theta II engine produces an estimated 255bhp at approximately 6200rpm. Maximum torque of 352Nm is available from 1400rpm to 4000rpm. The Stinger’s performance credentials are further enhanced through the alternative 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which is anticipated to produce 365bhp at an estimated 6000rpm and offer max torque of 509Nm from 1300rpm to 4500rpm. Kia is targeting 5.1 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 268km/h with the twin-turbocharged V6.
The Stinger features a second-generation 8-speed rear-drive automatic transmission. First offered in the K900 luxury sedan, the gearbox has been designed in-house and rewards drivers with crisp shifts and maximised fuel efficiency.
Read our review of the Kia Cerato Koup.