Not all Stingers created equal

Riley Riley

What is it?

Kia’s hyper car, or perhaps that’s hyped car – the Stinger?

Stinger is a big, four-door, five-seat, rear-drive liftback in the style of a classic GT tourer, one that’s been the subject of plenty of pre-launch publicity.

It’s the car that’s going to put Kia on the map, at least one of them and we expect that to be sooner than later.

Legend has it the inspiration for the styling of this car was a Coke bottle – I kid you not!


What’s it cost?

You can get into a Stinger for as little as $45,990 plus on roads.

There’s a choice of two engines – a 2.0-litre turbo or 3.3-litre twin turbo V6 – and three grades: S, Si and GT/GT-Line.

The twin turbo V6 adds $3000 to the price while the top of the range GT with all the bells and whistles runs to $59,990.

The entry 200S rides on 18-inch alloys, with chromed quad tailpipes, five drive modes, pretend leather and two-zone climate air that includes rear air vents.

There’s also auto lights (but not wipers), power adjust driver’s seat and six-speaker audio, with a 7-inch touchscreen that incorporates satellite navigation, digital DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and support for Bluetooth audio streaming.

Basically it comes with everything you want and nothing you don’t (although the limited slip rear diff from the V6 would be handy).



What’s it go like?

Despite the hype I can’t say I was swept away by this car.

And I was gobsmacked to learn they’d skimped on the 200S to get it down to the price.

By this I mean it misses out on some of the safety stuff you find in pricier models and as such scores only three stars for safety.

In my book, safety is non-negotiable and whoever signed off on this one made a bad call, one that Kia will wind up paying for in more ways than one.

The four cylinder turbo, like the four-cylinder Mustang, delivers the name, sleek lines and a fair whack of grunt – but perhaps not the promised magic.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four is good for 182kW of power and and 353Nm of torque, the latter from a low 1400 through to 4000 revs.

It’s the same direct injection unit that can be found in the impressive Optima Turbo sedan that we drove not too long ago.

Stinger is roomy inside, with seats belts for five occupants, but sits low to the ground and access could be a factor for some.

It’s also difficult to see the extremities of the car from behind the wheel which can make parking difficult, with a camera and rear sensors to help – but no front sensors in this model.

The cabin feels upmarket, with a stubby at times irritating shift lever, round Benz style air vents and a freestanding, tablet-like touchscreen.

The luggage area is large but shallow and hides a space saver spare.

Powered is delivered to the rear wheels, through an 8-speed auto and it is capable of doing the dash from 0 to 100km/h in 6.0 seconds (the twin turbo V6 shaves this figure to 4.9).

Sporty rear-wheel drive is desirable in this type of car and will appeal to buyers coming from Falcons and Commodores, although it’s a very different beast.

The Drive Mode Select System includes Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport & Custom modes, selected via a centre rotary control – Smart seems to be a replacement for Auto.

The turbocharged engine delivers excellent mid-range performance, with good low down grunt and excellent roll on acceleration.

But, off the line, it takes a frustrating second or two before things start to happen.

Maybe launch control, fitted as standard, compensates for this – but obviously requires some fiddling.

Also of note is the lack of a substantial exhaust note.

The chassis feels well sorted but the drive experience is not as engaging as we had hoped.

Firing the car into a succession of tight bends, it turns in nicely, with brakes that do a good job wiping off speed – though not as good as the Brembos that come with the six cylinder model.

A digital speedo provides a ready reckoner of your speed which is important in a car like this.

The car corners flat, but at 4.8m and weighing in at 1690kg, with a longish 2905mm wheelbase, lacks the agility of a smaller sports car.

Best results are achieved in sport mode and/or by using the paddle gear shifts – but there’s no full manual mode.

As a result the tranny changes up of its own volition when it hits redline and is apt to revert to full auto if left unattended for an extended period.

Rated at 8.8L/100km, we were getting 9.7 after 300km or so and we were pleased to see it takes standard unleaded.

At the end of the day Stinger is what it is – a tourer – a handsome GT designed for speedy, comfortable highway motoring.


What we like?


The price

Takes standard unleaded

Low fuel consumption

Good roll on acceleration


What we don’t?

Three star safety

Lack of exhaust note

Laggy throttle response, at least from a standing start

Misses out on Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind spot alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Driver Attention Alert (did I miss any)


The bottom line?

It looks great, doesn’t cost an arm or a leg and you won’t want to give it back.

Kia Stinger 200S, priced from $45,990
  • Looks - 8.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 6.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 8.0/10
  • Value - 8.0/10

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