2018 Kia Stinger: A RWD Sports Sedan Aimed Straight for the Germans
Up to 365 horsepower, rear-wheel drive.
We can’t say that we weren’t forewarned. Kia has been dropping broad hints about its plan to produce a rear-wheel-drive sedan for years. The original GT concept was shown at the Frankfurt auto show as long ago as 2011, with the Stinger GT4 building on it at the 2014 Detroit show. Now the wait is finally over as the company has unveiled the production version of its forthcoming sports sedan, which adopts the Stinger name.
Don’t confuse it with the K900. The Stinger is a much sleeker and sportier proposition than its staid big sister, and it has a low, coupelike roofline. Power will come from two engines, with the range-topping 365-hp turbo 3.3-liter V-6 making that version the most powerful roadgoing Kia yet; a 255-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder will serve as the entry-level engine. The Stinger gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, with buyers able to choose between rear- and all-wheel drive. Kia says it is targeting a 5.1-second zero-to-62-mph time and a 167-mph top speed for the 3.3-liter. There also will be a diesel version for Europe, but there are no plans to bring it to the States.
The design certainly is aggressive; it is the work of Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt. Up front, there’s the brand’s familiar “tiger nose” grille, but behind that, the low stance and muscular proportions effectively distinguish the Stinger from anything else the company has produced. Buyers will be able to have fun by getting their buddies to guess the brand of their new car when seen in profile. There’s something distinctly Alfa Romeo–ish about the rear end’s small, high-mounted taillights as well as the quad tailpipes on the V-6 GT model. LED lighting is standard front and rear.
Although it’s being pitched as a rival to existing compact sports sedans, the Stinger is bigger than any of the cars Kia cites as competitors. At 190.2 inches in length, it’s 4.1 inches longer than the Audi A4 and 5.7 inches longer than the Mercedes-Benz C-class, while the Stinger’s 114.4-inch wheelbase is also longer than any of its rivals. The Kia’s roofline is lower, though, and its overall height of just 55.1 inches makes it 0.2 inch shorter than a C-class coupe. Kia says that the Stinger is a coupe-sedan, which ties into design boss Peter Schreyer’s assertion that he sees the conventional two-door coupe as being of such little interest to buyers that the company probably will never build one. Inside, the conservatively styled if smart-looking cabin features an 8.0-inch central touchscreen and a TFT information screen sitting between the instruments. The company also claims class-leading rear legroom thanks to that long wheelbase.
The twin-turbocharged V-6 is Hyundai’s direct-injected aluminum Lambda II unit and is basically the same engine found in the Genesis G90, generating its peak 365 ponies at 6000 rpm and accompanying that with 376 lb-ft of torque that’s available from 1300 rpm. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is effectively a longitudinal version of the unit Hyundai and Kia use in their front-wheel-drive-based vehicles, but it’s also related to the engine fitted in the first-gen Hyundai Genesis coupe. The peak of 255 horsepower arrives at 6200 rpm, with 260 lb-ft of torque spread across a plateau from 1400 to 4000 rpm. The only transmission is a development of the K900’s automatic and uses a tuned-mass damper on the flywheel to help reduce torsional vibration through the drivetrain. The optional all-wheel-drive system features torque vectoring, while the rear-drive version has a standard limited-slip differential.
The Stinger is constructed from mostly conventional materials, with Kia saying the chassis uses 55 percent high-strength steel. We haven’t been given any weight numbers yet, but we’re promised that they will be competitive. There is a strut suspension setup at the front and a multilink setup at the rear. The four-cylinder car sits on 18-inch wheels as standard; the V-6–powered GT gets 19s as well as upgraded Brembo brakes, including four-piston front calipers and vented discs all around. Adaptive dampers will be offered—a first for Kia—and they’ll be selectable alongside other driving functions through five dynamic settings: Eco, Sport, Comfort, Smart, and Personal.
Much of the chassis development was carried out in Europe, led by Hyundai-Kia’s chief handling engineer, Albert Biermann, who formerly headed BMW’s M division. We’re told that the car has been extensively tested at the Nrburgring Nordschleife. Biermann previously told us that we should see it as a genuine rival to performance derivatives of the German compacts, a promise we look forward to testing as soon as possible.