Kia has released UK specifications for the hotly anticipated Stinger GT, the brand’s first foray into the four-door coupe market. Starting at £31,995 and rising to £40,495, the Stinger is priced slightly lower than initial projections suggested, with the all important 365bhp GT-S model more than £5k cheaper than the less powerful BMW 440i Gran Coupe.
The Stinger range kicks off with two four-cylinder options including a 244bhp 2-litre turbocharged petrol and 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel. Both engine choices will be offered exclusively with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive. These engines will be available in GT-Line and GT-Line S trims, while the flagship 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 version will be available exclusively in GT-S trim, complete with a full armada of luxury-car features and go-faster styling.
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All models feature an 8-inch infotainment screen sitting atop the dash, with integral sat-nav with TomTom sourced traffic and speed camera location data. There's also dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, leather seats and the usual safety suite of lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking. GT-Line S models, meanwhile, also get blind spot monitoring, 360-degree surround view cameras, an upgraded Harman Kardon hifi, all-round heated seats (including ventilated front seats) and full LED headlights.
Top spec V6-powered GT-S cars build on the standard equipment list further with 19-inch alloys, larger Brembo brakes, adaptive dampers and a variable ratio steering rack.
The diesel will also be an entry-level model of sorts, though it will still develop 197bhp (at 3800rpm), while 325lb ft of torque (spread between 1750-2750rpm) will allow it to hit 62mph in a reasonable 8.5sec, with a 140mph top speed.
With 244bhp, the 2-litre petrol should be even quicker. It develops less torque than the diesel – 260lb ft – but that figure is developed all the way from 1400-4000rpm, so flexibility shouldn't be a problem. Topping the range is Kia's twin-turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 – on which you can read more below.
Late last year, ahead of the Detroit reveal, evo travelled to Korea for an exclusive look at the car and to meet the designers, engineers and executives behind it. We also drove a development prototype at the company’s R&D facility to get an early taste of what is an intriguing performance car.
Kia is exploring new ground with the Stinger GT, which is the production version of the GT Concept that was first shown six years ago. It’s part of the company’s ambitious attempt to abandon its functional, value-led image and instead become an aspirational car brand, an effort that will eventually lead to further performance models and perhaps a motorsport programme.
‘The Stinger GT is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long distance driving,’ says Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia Motors Europe. ‘It’s not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace. This car is all about the journey.’
‘I’m very pleased with how much of the concept car we’ve been able to keep in the production car – we hardly ever manage to do that in such a way,’ adds Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors. ‘This car really shows how far Kia can go.’
In its basic shape and proportions the production car is very true to the show car, although the more outlandish design features have necessarily been dropped.
‘The original Maserati Ghibli is what I had in mind when we started the project – to find a modern interpretation, not as a two-door but as a four-door,’ says Guillaume. ‘The moment you have a front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout you get completely different proportions.
‘Key to the Stinger GT’s poise are the thrusting bonnet, the short front overhang, the long distance between the front axle and the dashboard, the extended wheelbase and the long rear overhang complete with broad shoulders. It’s all about stance, proportion and balance. The low roofline, cab-backward architecture and fastback silhouette are visually enhanced by the chrome accent line that runs from the A-pillar to the base of the rear screen. When you look at the car from the side you can’t notice the coke bottle waist – it’s very subtle. But when you walk around to the rear you see it has proper hips.’
The Stinger is based on an adapted version of the Hyundai Genesis platform, with completely redesigned MacPherson strut front suspension and a revised version of the existing multi-link rear axle. Power comes from the group’s 3.3-litre, twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, with bespoke intake and exhaust systems plus specific calibration to improve response, power and delivery.
Peak power is 365bhp, with 376lb ft of torque available from just 1300rpm. The 0-62mph time is 5.1sec, which is Kia’s best to date by a clear margin, but in a world of sub-four second hot hatches it’s brisk rather than blistering. At more than 1900kg the Stinger GT is certainly no flyweight.
Albert Biermann, former head of BMW’s M division and now Kia’s engineering chief, oversaw development of the Stinger GT. ‘The brief was to make a sporty car,’ he says, ‘but it still needed to have good long distance comfort. It could not be a harsh car. The Stinger is about precision, response and feedback, but still the isolation levels are high.’
The only transmission option is an eight-speed automatic, which Biermann claims offers better shift speeds than the similar ZF unit that’s used by the likes of BMW, Audi and Bentley. The Stinger GT is fitted with a mechanical limited-slip differential as standard.
It uses an adaptive damping system, a first for Kia, and via the Drive Mode Select system the driver can choose between a suite of modes, adjusting steering assistance, damping, throttle response, gearshift strategy and ESC intervention to suit the road type and driving style.
Kia insists the Stinger GT carves its own niche, but when pushed it accepts that the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe and Audi S5 Sportback are the car’s most natural four-door coupe rivals – although the Korean car is bigger in all dimensions than either of the Germans.
Tasked with helping Kia become an aspirational car brand across the globe, the Stinger GT is a hugely important car for the Korean company. As Gregory Guillaume says, ‘we believe the Stinger GT is going to fundamentally change the global image of Kia.’
Driving the Stinger
A handful of laps of Kia’s test facility in an early development car wasn’t enough to deliver a definitive verdict, but it did allow us to get a taste of Stinger GT.
The seating position is good, with a low-set seat and a steering wheel that comes right out towards your chest, and the cabin is spacious, with enough legroom in the rear even for taller adults. The interior quality is a step on for Kia, although the likes of Mercedes and Audi still lead the way.
The V6 engine is strong and responsive, but the soundtrack is a touch flat and it doesn’t care to be revved much beyond 6000rpm. The eight-speed auto is smooth and refined, although the ubiquitous ZF unit feels more responsive in manual mode for the time being.
As a grand tourer the Stinger GT doesn’t have the locked-down, flat-bodied responses of a true sports saloon, and in cornering it does roll markedly even in sport mode. This doesn’t feel like a chassis that’s woefully short on control or precision, however, just one that has been tuned for comfort as much as outright handling.
The steering is direct and very accurate, and what it lacks in feedback it makes up for with a predictable, intuitive rate of response at the front axle. Despite its size and weight, the Stinger GT feels agile and alert in corners. There’s still a huge amount to be learned about the Stinger GT, but the word for now is ‘promising’.