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July 16, 2019

Review: 2019 Kia Stinger GT

What is the power of a brand? That’s the biggest question surrounding the 2019 Stinger GT, Kia’s undeniable halo car. Priced at P 940,000 above the brand’s second most expensive offering, the Grand Carnival EX, the Stinger stretches what anyone thinks of Kia. Still, after all’s said and done, it’s a tour-de-force in many ways, but most importantly, it’s a fresh devil-may-care-attitude amidst an automotive world market driven by bean counters and spread sheets.

By and large, the Stinger won’t sell in great numbers, and that doesn’t matter. It’s not here to play the role of Picanto or Soluto. Instead, its role is to raise the middle finger permanently to everyone else who thinks Koreans can only make appliances or appliances with wheels. Having driven it the same week as the launch of the highly-anticipated GR Supra, the Stinger did its job and upstaged it. Less than five minutes after getting in, you’ll seriously think: why drop money on a car with two less seats, less power, and yet costs P 1.755 million more?

The Stinger is on its A-Game the moment you see it. With an overall length that’s within other executive sedans, its wheelbase stretches above 2.9 meters (2.905 to be exact), lending it proportions which are low and planted. It still has the familiar Tiger Nose grille, but everything else is far removed from any other Kia on the road today. Its lines are fresh and purposeful, while also adding the right amounts of playfulness such as the hood vents (non-functional, sadly), faux center lock alloy wheels, and quad-tip exhausts.

Approaching the Stinger, the side mirrors swing open and the front door handles illuminate, creating a sense of drama. Swing the weighty doors open, and its interior presents a premium, high-quality feel. Real aluminum surfaces impart a feeling of authenticity, as do the supple leather seats. Prominent Kia elements are present like the infotainment system display, switchgear, and buttons, but they’re arranged in a way that escapes scrutiny even for the pickiest of badge snobs. Admittedly though, the leather-like soft plastic dash topping is the only tacky bit.

With a driver’s seat and steering wheel that can be programmed to swing out of the way upon entry, getting in and out of the Stinger is easy. However, it’s worth mentioning that the seats are mounted extremely low—making it seem lower than even its 130-mm ground clearance. Moreover, the most comfortable driving position is very “Fast and Furious” with the legs spread out and the seat a bit more leaned back. Regardless, this doesn’t seem to affect the overall visibility too much. Towards the back, the long wheelbase grants great knee room, though the high center tunnel means only two adults would fit comfortably realistically.

Great as the Stinger is to look at, what truly sets it apart is the way it performs. With a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 making 370 horsepower and 510 Nm of torque hooked up to the rear wheels, it’s an exciting proposition on paper alone. Yet, in real life, it feels much stronger than what its numbers suggest. Shove the throttle, and it shoves you back and doesn’t let up. There’s a slight reprieve as it hits the redline, but then the process starts again. The 8-speed automatic the engine’s attached to is quick and responsible, but there’s a noticeable split-second hesitation during impromptu jabs of the throttle. Still, it’s exciting and addicting.

Sadly, the sensation isn’t accompanied by any satisfying aural note. There’s a smooth, deep growl, but it’s flat, and somewhat generic. The exhaust note is changeable, but even at its “Enhanced” setting, it’s far too quiet and devoid of any personality. Also working against the Stinger is its atrocious fuel economy: 4.18 km/L at 11 km/h.

Kia says the Stinger’s chassis has been tuned with the help of ex-BMW M chief engineer Albert Biermann, and it shows. On city streets, it drives smaller than its exterior proportions might suggest. The cabin is well-insulated from the outside world, save for the slight roar from the low-profile Continental tires. On badly paved roads, it’s firm, but well-damped. On open roads, the chassis remain tight and planted with neutral handling, while the steering is quick and intuitive (with surprisingly good levels of feedback). Equally great are the Brembo brakes with a 4-piston front and 2-piston rear set-up that imbues it with a linear, yet strong stopping power and confidence-inspiring bite.

Going back to the subject of price, P 3.235 million is a kingly sum for what’s ultimately “just a Kia.” However, if the 4.9-second 0-100 km/h time and 270 km/h top speed aren’t enough to justify it, then how about features like dynamic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front ventilated power seats, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Qi wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, 7 airbags, front and rear proximity sensors, and a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera? It is, by and large, a fast, capable, and well-loaded sports sedan.

In the end though, this isn’t just a Kia, or at least, it’s not the Kia you’ve grown up with. If you can divorce yourself from any brand snobbery, the Stinger is an attractive, performance-oriented grand tourer that can compete against the world’s best. Few, if any buyers, will cross shop the 4-door Stinger against sportscars like the GR Supra, but for those that do, they’ll find it delivers the same thrills at a cheaper cost. More than that, it makes you think that the only reason you’re going for the two-seater sportscar is because you want entry into the Manila Sports Car Club. For the rest though, the Stinger genuinely opens a conversation of what Kia can do, and for that, it’s done its job.

2019 Kia Stinger GT
Ownership 2019 Kia Stinger 3.3L Twin Turbo V6 GT
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Executive Sedan
Warranty 5 years / 160,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sportback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.3
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders V6
BHP @ rpm 370 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 510 @ 1,300-4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 8 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 4.18 km/L @ 11 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,830
Width (mm) 1,870
Height (mm) 1,400
Wheelbase (mm) 2,905
Curb Weight (kg) 1,758
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Tires Continental ContiSportContact 5,
225/40 R 19 Y (f), 255/35 R 19 Y (r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear, with 360-degree Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Limited Slip Differential
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps No
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic, Electronic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way, Vented, w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 8-way, Vented
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 12, Harman Kardon
Steering Controls Yes


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