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REVIEW – Kia Stinger T-GDi GT Line S

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi GT Line S
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The Kia Stinger with the 2.0 T-GDi petrol engine is the pick of the bunch. It may not have the same power – or alloy wheels – as the potent GT S, but it makes so much more sense in just about every way. It still looks every bit as sleek, and is plenty fast enough. But it’s more economical and cheaper to run. It’s cheaper to buy too, keeping it out of the firing line of more expensive rivals. This is a Stinger you could really be tempted to buy…


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Exterior Styling

Just like the Kia Stinger GT S we tested last year, this GT Line S model is a sight to behold. It looks fantastic.

I was almost hoping for a HiChroma Red model, just to see something different. Alas, our test car was, once again, Ceramic Grey. It’s still a tremendous colour though, so here couldn’t be too many complaints.

This model looks nigh-on identical to the GT S. It’s the wheels that are different. The GT Line S wheels are 18-inch multi-spoke.

And when you step back from to take in the side profile, you could feel that they are too small for such a big car. But the GT S wheels are only an inch bigger, but a more open snowflake design looks less ‘busy’.

The dark chrome exterior trim on the grille surrounds, wing mirrors, upper window surround and side vents adds a level of sophistication. Privacy glass is a noticeable omission, and would make the Stinger look more executive.

But there can be no complaints on the whole. The front grille is recognisably ‘Kia’. Signature daytime running lights and cluster indicators make the Stinger silhouette stand out. Bonnet vents are for show only, but add aggression to the front profile: the Stinger looks formidable in a rear view mirror.

It looks similarly aggressive at the rear. The boot lid has an integrated lip spoiler, which sits above the rear lights, which also feature cluster indicators. Quad exhausts add muscularity.

Wherever you go, the Stinger turns heads. People will stop to look at it. I even saw several people taking pictures of it when parked up.

Interior Finish

Once you take a seat inside the Stinger, you really can’t tell the difference between the GT Line S and the GT S.

Now when we reviewed the GT S we noted that its cabin, although a step up from other models in the Kia range, fell short of rivals in terms of quality and finish. But the GT Line S is a fair bit cheaper than the GT S, so its rivals are different. And that gives the Kia an advantage.

The front seats are like comfortable armchairs, with added bolstering. This is what you need in a grand tourer; comfortable on a long journey but capable of holding you in place when you get a bit giddy.

From the driver’s seat you can grab hold of the extremely chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel. Beyond that is the instrument cluster, and it has to be said that it’s about time Kia introduced a digital one. It would take their cars to the next level when it comes to driver experience.

The rest of the dashboard is a brilliant piece of design. There’s a nice mix of textures and colours; with soft-touch plastics, faux leather, silver plastic and brushed aluminium.

Perched on top of the dashboard is the 8-inch multimedia screen. Just below this are three circular, turbine-style air vents. It has a certain aviation feel to it, furthered by the gear selector which feels like it could be the thruster on a jet.

The alcantara headlining is a masterstroke. It looks fantastic, and elevates the Stinger to new level of premium.

The whole cabin is well put-together. It doesn’t go unnoticed that some of the switchgear has been liberated from the communal parts bin, but the Stinger still manages to feel that little bit special.

Engine/Performance

So this particular Stinger has a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. But before you give up reading and move on to the next section, you should know that it’s a perfect engine for this car. In fact in some ways it’s better than the 3.3 V6 of the GT S. Let me explain.

Power from this 2.0 unit is a respectable 244PS and 353Nm of torque. Like the GT S, this is sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. 0-62mph takes 6.0 seconds and the top speed is 145mph.

So you can’t really call this Stinger ‘slow’. Sure it doesn’t have the 370 PS of the GT S. But even with all that extra power the GT S is only a second quicker to 62mph.

And on the road the Stinger can hold its own. The 8-speed automatic makes best use of the power available. Power delivery is smooth and punchy, with the 2.0 T-GDi happy to be taken right to the upper realms of the rev range.

There are several different drive modes to choose from: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport +. There’s also a Smart mode which adjusts based on how you are driving at the time. Eco is great for long motorway runs, and Sport for when you’re blasting down a twisty A-road.

Sport + turns off the driver aids, which in the GT S can be a dangerous game. With 244PS the Stinger is less likely to bite you, but in all honesty the driver aids never felt intrusive enough to warrant turning off.

The 3.3 V6, disappointingly, didn’t have a fitting soundtrack for the power and performance it offered. You get an artificial soundtrack in Sport modes, and actually this is just about convincing enough to be enjoyable.

Ride/Handling

As a GT car, the Kia Stinger should be competent on just about every road. It should eat up mile after mile on the motorway. It should be fun on a flowing A-road. And on a lumpy, bumpy B-road it should be both comfortable and composed.

A big ask then, but the Stinger rises to the challenge. Only the top-spec GT S has electronically-controlled suspension, so this GT Line S model has to make do with a balanced setup. But Kia has got the balance just right.

It is setup more towards comfort, but that makes the Stinger a great motorway cruiser. Thanks to a low and wide frame, there’s very little in the way of body roll even with the softer suspension set up.

The Stinger weighs just over 1,700kg, so it’s no lightweight. Push really hard, and you can tell. But you needn’t push that hard: the Stinger isn’t a car for hooning around and throwing into corners.

Steering is nicely weighted, especially in the Sport and Sport + drive modes. It’s direct too, allowing you to point the Stinger wherever you want. There still isn’t a great amount of feel in the steering.

But the steering doesn’t need to have a great deal of feel; because the chassis is great. The rear-drive setup, which naturally lacks understeer, is a balanced one. And with only 244PS on tap, there isn’t much in the way of oversteer either.

Brakes are good; certainly enough to give you confidence. But they’re not quite as good as the larger Brembo front brakes found on the GT S.

Slightly annoying is the lack of designated manual mode on the gearbox. You can take control with paddles behind the steering wheel, but after a period of inactivity it reverts back to drive.

Economy

You could be forgiven for thinking that this section would be where the Stinger fell down. After all, it looks aggressive and its 244PS petrol engine is certainly no slouch.

But let me assure you that the Stinger doesn’t fall down here. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s one of the Stinger’s greatest traits.

The official figures, on the WLTP combined cycle, are 29.4mpg. Admittedly that sounds rather average, and not too unexpected.

We are seeing more relatable real-world figures with the new WLTP testing regime, but in this case it’s far too low.

For example, I took the Stinger on a 200-odd mile trip from East Lancashire to Watford. As I was in no hurry, I set the cruise control to 68-ish and happily plodded my way down the country. There were also a few areas of 50mph roadworks.

Nevertheless, I returned 43.4mpg in the Kia, and that’s nothing short of remarkable. Especially given that I had the air conditioning and cooled seats running the whole way, and was travelling with 4 adults in the car.

The Eco drive mode helps; backing off the throttle response to encourage gentler acceleration and instructing the gearbox to hunt the next gear sooner.

Having 8 gears does massively help save fuel on the motorway, as does the adaptive cruise control with speed limiter function. The Stinger also has start/stop technology to cut the engine when the traffic is really bad.

CO2 emissions are an NEDC-equivalent 191g/km. First year VED may be a rather high £1,280 but this version of the Stinger costs less than £40,000 so is only £145 to tax in subsequent years: something few of its comparably-specced rivals will be able to match.

Practicality

So what’s the Kia Stinger like to live with? Well it seems to have the best traits of several different cars – family hatchback, executive saloon, sports car – and therefore makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.

The Stinger may be an achingly-beautiful GT car, but the boot is still a hatchback type. So while the 406-litres of space on offer might not sound a lot, the hatchback opening makes it all very usable.

Moving on to the cabin, there’s yet more good news. Thanks to the Stinger’s long body, there’s plenty of room in there.

That’s not to say this is the roomiest of cars – there is more rear legroom in a Skoda Superb for example – but the rear seats in the Stinger are like a big, comfortable sofa. The rear legroom looks smaller than it is because of how deep the seat base is.

And despite the sloping roofline, Kia has ensured that there is plenty of headroom in the back. With four adults in the car the Stinger is still a comfortable and executive place to be.

In the front things are even better, thanks to a raft of adjustment in the seats: everything from simple backwards and forwards to being able to extend the knee cushions and tighten/loosen the side bolsters to suit.

And don’t be fooled by their large, armchair-like appearance either. They will hold you firmly in place should you decide to throw the Stinger around a bit. There’s even an easy access function, whereby the seat moves back and the steering column moves up and inwards.

As you take your seat and it moves you into your desired driving position, it even brings a bit of theatre. You could soon get used to it.

Equipment

There are three trims of Kia Stinger available: GT Line, GT Line S and GT S. None of which are a bog-basic offering simply to sell volume. This is Kia’s flagship model, so it must be equipped like one.

So even if you opt for the ‘entry-level’ GT Line trim, you can enjoy a vast array of creature comforts. You get a full-leather interior with electrically-adjustable front seats, including a memory function for the driver’s seat. The front seats and steering wheel are also heated.

Other equipment includes adaptive cruise control with speed limiter; dual-zone air conditioning and keyless entry and go.

In-car entertainment is controlled from an 8-inch touchscreen, and includes a 9-speaker sound system, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Safety equipment includes lane keeping assistance, emergency stop signalling, driver attention warning and forward-collision avoidance.

Go for the GT Line S model – which is the one we’re testing here – and you get even more. There’s LED headlights with automatic levelling and dynamic cornering function. The front and outer rear seats gain cooling and heating functions respectively, and you get a power tailgate for additional convenience.

Forget the 9-speaker audio system: the GT Line S gets a wonderful 15-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, which can blast our your favourite tunes at ridiculous volume whilst still being crisp and enjoyable.

Other notable additions on the GT Line S are a 360-degree parking camera and blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert.

The GT S doesn’t add a whole lot in terms of equipment: it is the performance model. You do get a Nappa leather upholstery, electronically-controlled suspension and larger Brembo brakes, but the biggest difference with the GT S is that it’s the only model available with the 3.3-litre, 361PS turbocharged V6 petrol engine…

Value For Money

With this flagship GT car, Kia is going after the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gra Coupe. But this is somewhat unchartered territory for Korean marque, so how does it stack up?

Well there are no issues on the equipment front. Especially given that the Stinger maintains Kia’s usual approach of not having optional extras. Well, except for premium paint. To have a specification comparable to the GT Line S you’d have to tick a fair few options boxes on the Audi and Beemer.

The Stinger range starts from £32,475 on the road for the 2.0 T-GDi GT Line, and goes up to £40,575 for the 3.3 T-GDi GT S. Premium paint is £665.

The 2.0 T-GDi GT Line S we tested is £35,975. And when you consider the car as an all-rounder, it’s seemingly the best value model in the range.

The GT S may be a ruthless performance machine, but you’re getting into Audi S5 territory. The Kia may have all the gadgetry in the world, it’s never going to win that battle.

The 2.0 GT Line S, on the other hand, is the same price as a basic Audi A5 Sportback 190PS S line. Equip the Audi with anything like the kit of the Kia and you’re talking the wrong side of £40,000. Which, in turn, means you’re going to incur the VED surcharge.

There’s an element of exclusivity with the Kia, and you get their standard 7-year warranty for peace of mind. The only question mark is on residual values: the Stinger is still too new to know how it will fare in the mid to long term.

But for an overwhelming sense of style, backed up by respectable performance and enviable technology, you’ll struggle to beat the Stinger.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 244PS at 6,200rpm
Max torque 353Nm at 1,400-4,000rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph 6.0 seconds
Top speed 145mph
Fuel tank size 60 litres
Fuel consumption 29.4 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 191 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,717kg
Towing capacity 1,100kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 406 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £35,975
Price as tested £36,640
Company website www.kia.com/uk/new-cars/stinger

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