In-depth reviews

Kia Stinger GT S review – Korean sports saloon still delivers the goods

There are few more distinctive cars on the road, and the GT S continues to entertain and engage, despite its flaws

Evo rating
Price
from £32,025
  • Chassis has no problem putting a smile on your face; looks brilliant
  • Steering lacks clarity; engine effective but muted; thirsty

The Kia Stinger GT has been with us since 2017, arriving to great applause in the UK as an alternative to the German executive saloons which typically have all the charisma of a, well, German executive saloon. Initially launched with a combination of petrol and diesel engines, it was aimed directly at them, and boasted more space, equipment and pace.

Unfortunately, the notoriously fussy European market had other ideas as sales rarely registered more than a blip, so it’s no surprise to see Kia’s update as more of a model realignment than a doubling down on its initial ambition.

> Read our review of Hyundai's i30 N

As such, in 2021 the Kia Stinger GT S is now only available in range-topping twin-turbo V6 form, in one high specification, and at a still alluring price point – something that’s actually only become more endearing thanks to the quite substantial inflation of prices of its direct rivals.

The updates it’s actually received have been put in the right places though, with a fresh infotainment system and some subtle styling tweaks, but the overall package remains pretty close to the original, which is no bad thing.

Kia Stinger GT S: in detail

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > Sole 3.3-litre V6 and auto ’box are effective, but not particularly charismatic
  • Performance and 0-60 time > It just about sneaks under the five second mark to 62mph, but this car’s all about the mid-range
  • Ride and handling > The handling is just as entertaining as before – a bit wayward, but engaging nonetheless
  • MPG and running costs > This is a powertrain optimised for other markets, and their lower fuel costs – this thing’s a thirsty animal
  • Interior and tech >  Overall interior design and quality is great; infotainment is bigger and clearer, but does take some getting used to
  • Design > There are few if any four-doors that get so many admiring glances

Prices, specs and rivals

With just one top-spec model now available in the UK, its entry price of £42,655 might sound like a lot for a Kia, but it's not much in the greater scheme of things for the amount of content included. Also, the stigma around Kia’s brand cachet seems to be lessening in record time, or is that just us?

As well as the V6 engine, the GT S also picks up new 19-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, Nappa leather trim, electronic dampers, and a Harmon Kardon stereo, plus a solid roster of convenience features such as dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors and round-view cameras.

> Audi A5 review

The GT S’s positioning is interesting given its price compared to several key rivals. The closest BMW is the M340i (until the new M440i Gran Coupe arrives) at £50,900, which makes it considerably more expensive despite its aligned performance capability. 

Audi’s 261bhp A5 Sportback 2-litre turbo is now the most potent petrol derivative short of the RS5, and itself comes in at a somewhat alarming £47,725, yet lacks the Kia’s grunt and driving entertainment, and isn’t even that generous with tech or inclusions either.

> Find out how BMW's 340i compares to the Mercedes-AMG C43

If slick styling is your game then Volkswagen’s new Arteon R may be on your list, rivalling the GT S with a 316bhp 2-litre TSI under the bonnet, all-wheel drive, DSG and R-specific brakes and adaptive suspension. At £51,615 it’s a huge chunk more cash though and, unlike the premium guys, resale remains a question mark given its exorbitant price point.

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