Kia is a brand on the move and stamping itself as one to watch, especially with its big, rear wheel drive, Stinger. The 2019 Kia Stinger GT is the third Stinger AWT has driven, and the second V6. It remains an intoxicating mix of technology, comfort, driveability, and sheer exhilaration.Although not quite Euro quality inside, it’s also not far from it. There’s plenty of room, plenty of technology and safety, but there’s also, still, a lingering disdain and suspicion of anything from Korea that isn’t a smartphone or TV. More’s the pity for those that choose to ignore it simply because of the three letters on the badge.Kia have developed and delivered an absolute belter of a car. Start with an alloy block V6, strap on a pair of turbochargers, and an eight speed smart transmission. Add in electronics that adjust the suspension, steering, engine and gearbox mapping. That’s good for a peak power of 272kW, with torque up to 550Nm if you believe a dash display. Kia’s official figure is 510Nm between 1300 – 4500rpm. A folder and information selector on the not overly visually inspiring tiller will show fuel economy, drive modes, radio, a G-Force & torque usage. There is also a HUD, a Head Up Display, that needs a Holden like dial to more easily switch through the available information. It’s all very usable in this first iteration of the Stinger, it just needs tweaking and it’d be a fair bet the second Stinger will be just that little bit better inside.Driver and passenger face a well thought out dash. It’s ergonomic, easy to read, but lacks a measure of class. There’s a drive mode dial in the centre console which offers Sport, Eco, Smart, Comfort, and it’s noticeable both physically and visually as it brings up a colour coded image on the large dash screen. What’s confusing is the counter-point of drive setting options available via the menu system. The dial can be set to Sport but then suspension, steering, and more can be selected to other than Sport. However, though, the font and layout of the options are again clean and simple to read.Kia stay with simplicity by offering a rocker switch for the driver and passenger seat to both heat and vent the leather bound eight way adjustable pews. Yes, vent, an amazingly overlooked part of specification for Australia. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat as well. Smartphone access is via USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A wireless charging pad is located next to a module housing a USB port and 12V port, plus a 3.5mm socket for external music playback should the Stinger GT be in a DAB blackspot. And as good as the sound is from the fifteen speaker Harman Kardon system, the tweeters are door, not A-pillar, mounted, meaning they’re firing into both nothing and the steering column.It has a physically imposing presence, the Stinger, especially in the deep hued metallic red the test car comes clad in (Kia doesn’t list this as a dollars option). A long bonnet and coupe rear evoke cars such as E-Type, Rapide, and with styling cues taken from Maserati in the rear quarter it’s a handsome looking machine. There’s faux bonnet vents but genuine vents in the far quarters of the LED head and driving light equipped front. They flow through to distinctive outlets and a stylish scallop in the front doors. Although a fastback coupe in profile there’s no lack of rear headroom nor lack of cargo under the powered tailgate. The rear lights are LED and will flash, Euro Style, in an emergency stop situation. The GT sports LED puddle lamps and interior lighting is LED powered as well. Overall length is 4830mm, with a wheelbase of 2905mm. Cargo beneath the powered tailgate is rated as 405L which expands to 1114L with the broad rear seats folded.Safety is a priority with the Stinger. Along with fade free Brembo stoppers, there’s a 360 degree (selectable view) camera system, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning with Adaptive Cruise Control. Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert go hand in hand, and there’s Blind Spot Detection, a surprisingly handy feature that many drivers need. Pedestrian safety comes in the form of Active Hood Lift System, designed to move upward should the car’s sensors detect a forward impact with something not of a car’s mass. The driver has a kneebag along with front and curtain ‘bags as well.
The colour palette has two exclusively for the GT, being Aurora Black and Snow White Pearl, colours seen on the Sorento and Cerato reviewed recently. There are also Silky Silver, Ceramic Grey, Deep Chroma Blue, Panthera Metal and Hichroma Red as seen on the test car. It’s an immaculate colour, and one that caught many, many, eyes. Inside the triple turbine design air vents catch the eye in a soft touch material surrounding and sit just below the eight inch touchscreen that’s fitted with SUNA satnav.But it’s the driving ability of the V6 Stinger that wins hearts and minds here. There’s an optionable ($2300) bi-modal exhaust mode that adds extra aural excitement from start-up. The push button Start/Stop is hidden behind the tiller’s left spoke. Punch that and there’s a whirr momentarily before the V6 fires up. There’s a “woofle” from the exhaust before the engine settles into a warm-up cycle. The gear selector is a rocker style, not a linear Park through to Drive. Park itself is a push button just north of the selector.The eight speed gearbox is better when it’s warmed up; from a cold start there’s some indecision, some stuttering, but once warmed up, and recommended when wishing to use the Launch Control function, it’s slick, smooth, and sporty. Paddle shifts become largely superfluous once it’s settled, and combined with the mighty punch of the twin turbo power-plant, it can become an intimidating machine. Launch Control is on board and is a hidden procedure involving a drive mode, and traction control.The Stinger dawdles along in relative peace and quiet around town and cuts under the official urban consumption figure from 14.1L/100km down to AWT’s urban figure of 10.1L/100km from the 60L tank. But make full use of the 510 torques and horizons become blurred and closer quickly, eyeballs meet the back of the head, and inane grins cover faces. Mid-range acceleration has the driver reaching for a thesaurus and looking for words that mean stupendous. There really is a shove back into the seats when the loud pedal is punched hard, and there’s a slight squirm and squiggle from the rear. There’s a similar experience when the dial is switched to sports mode and from a standing start a seat of the pants count says something around the five second mark to reach freeway velocities.The steering rack is quick, with fingertip sensitive response from the electrically assisted variable ratio setup. Even with the big 225/40/19 rubber up front (255/35/19 rears) there’s plenty of feedback, a lack of numbness in the rack itself, and a fluid, nimble, chassis. Driven through a valley in the lower Blue Mountains with some turns marked at 15km/h, the Stinger showcases its chassis dynamics here with aplomb. However, there is a niggle, and one shared with the smaller sibling, Cerato. Drive through a sweeping curve that has the metal expansion sections at a radiating ninety degrees from the inside to the outside, and the rear end of both cars would skip. This indicates that the lateral stability isn’t being damped down, and these are at velocities of 80 km/h.The adjustable suspension settings, which are accessible via the touchscreen, take a few moments to adjust, and it’s noticeable in way the big 1780kg plus fuel and passengers machine rides. The Comfort setting flattens irregularities, where the Sport feeds more of these through without excessive comfort loss. The steering itself has different modes and it’s fair to say the differences aren’t so noticeable. Either way, however, the Stinger is a gentle giant when driven without accessing the turbo-fed dragon lurking under the long alloy bonnet.
At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Kia Stinger GT is a front drive, rear wheel driven, big machine. Released into the Australian market just months after Holden and Toyota had shut the doors on making cars here, the Stinger was greeted with a mix of critical acclaim and disdain. The disdain comes mainly from those that have a “thing” about Korean cars being any good. It’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of those would be people with a phone or TV from Korea and wouldn’t be seen dead in a Korean built vehicle. More fool them.
AWT and others love the Kia Stinger, that’s obvious from the reviews world wide and as a first up model, it’s a pearler, a belter. Improvements will come, in key, and not so key, areas. For now, the Kia Stinger V6 twin-turbo GT is on the “when the lotto numbers happen” list.