2018 Kia Stinger Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Jan 09, 2017
  • New gran turismo luxury performance car
  • Seating for five, plus large cargo area accessed through rear hatch
  • Similar in philosophy to Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
  • Designed and tuned in Germany
  • Turbocharged 4-cylinder or twin-turbocharged V6 engine
  • Rear-wheel or rear-biased, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive
  • Driver-selected modes for powertrain response, suspension tuning, steering feel
  • Full slate of driver assistance, collision avoidance, and infotainment systems
  • On sale in late 2017


2018 Kia Stinger front quarter right photo


In 2011, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Kia unveiled the GT Concept, a rakishly delicious example of world-class design.

Now, at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Kia introduces the production version of that concept car, the 2018 Stinger, an equally rakish and delicious example of world-class design – and engineering.

“Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and…that dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America.

The Stinger is a gran turismo, defined by Kia defines as an automobile that is fast, nimble, luxurious, and quiet for five people and their luggage during spirited, long-distance drives.

Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe, underscored the 2018 Kia Stinger and its mission when he said: “The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion.”

If you’re finding yourself suddenly desirous of a Kia, you’re probably not alone. It goes on sale late in 2017, so you’ve got plenty of time to get worked up over the possibility of buying one. Pricing is not yet available, but expect it to start in the low $40,000 range.

Exterior Features

Boasting a fastback roofline and rear-drive proportions, the Stinger’s long wheelbase, wide track, short front overhang, long rear overhang, bold haunches, and recessed door contours get your blood pumping with no more than a glance.

Kia says the design lends the Stinger “an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than boy-racer aggression.” I’d have to agree.

Complex LED headlights flank Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille, which features a chrome-studded design similar to a Mercedes-Benz. Bold but not overpowering, the fascia intakes, hood slots, and fender vents convey just the right amount of sporting intent.

Viewed in profile, the greenhouse tapers up into the roof, a Kia design signature. Character lines emphasize the Stinger’s length, large wheels fill their wells, and stylists deftly intersect the rear door corners with the shut line for the rear hatch.

In back, a strip of side marker lighting wraps around each corner into trapezoidal LED taillights. The bumper includes a black diffuser punctuated by four exhaust outlets.

Overall, Kia absolutely nailed the Stinger’s design. If not for the KIA badges, anyone viewing this vehicle would automatically assume it to be a luxury car costing at least $50,000.

Interior Features

Thanks to a wheelbase that is longer than the Audi A4, 4 Series Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz CLS, combined with overall length and width measurements that exceed other gran turismo models in the Stonger’s segment, this new Kia is claimed to provide greater passenger and cargo space than its competition.

Kia asserts that the Stinger will deliver “industry-leading” quality as well as generous front and rear legroom for up to five people. Interior highlights include deeply bolstered front seats, a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel, a mix of analog and digital instrumentation with large gauges ringed in metal, and air vents with a spoked circular design. A band of satin chrome encircles the cabin, and premium Nappa leather is available as an option.

Under the Hood

Albert Biermann joined Kia from BMW in 2014, and he led the 2018 Stinger’s ride and handling development in Korea and on Germany’s demanding Nurburgring racetrack.

Built on a chassis boasting 55% high-strength steel construction, the Stinger’s rear-drive configuration and generation wheelbase allow Kia to mount the car’s engine as far to the rear of the roomy engine bay as is possible in order to best balance and distribute the weight.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard, producing an estimated 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,400 rpm to 4,000 rpm.

As an option, Stinger buyers can select a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 with an estimated 365 hp at 6,000 rpm and 376 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,300 rpm to 4,500 rpm. With this engine, Kia is targeting acceleration to 60 mph in about five seconds, and a top speed of 167 mph.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is the only one available, driving the rear wheels through a mechanical limited-slip differential. Paddle shifters provide the driver with manual control over gear changes, and a new Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter is designed to reduce torsional vibration in the drivetrain.

All-wheel drive is an option for the 2018 Stinger. Under normal driving conditions, and similar to Audi’s Quattro system, power is mainly distributed to the car’s rear wheels, and when necessary is reapportioned with more flowing to the car’s front wheels. The Stinger’s AWD system also equips the car with dynamic torque vectoring.

Powertrain calibration, steering effort and response, and suspension tuning can be adjusted using the Stinger’s selectable driving modes. They include Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort, and Smart settings.

Kia equips the Stinger with a dynamic damping MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension design. Using the configurable driving modes, if the driver wants the Stinger to deliver maximum agility in corners, he or she can set the suspension up so that the front shocks are softer and the rear shocks are firmer. The reverse is true when a driver wants maximum stability on the highway, according to Kia.

A rack-mounted, variable-ratio electric steering system allows the Stinger to provide “razor-sharp feedback,” according to Kia. Quick response and reduced vibration are also traits associated with rack-mounted vs. column-mounted electric steering systems.


Every existing driver assistance and collision avoidance technology within Kia’s arsenal will be offered for the new Stinger. That includes a new Driver Attention Alert system that is designed to detect a drowsy or fatigued driver and recommend a stop for rest.

Additional highlights include adaptive cruise control with full-stop capability, a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning system with lane keeping assist, and a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert.


Kia does not discuss specifics related to the Stinger’s infotainment system, other than to claim the car comes with the “latest” in Kia Your Voice (UVO) technology and has a “large color touchscreen.”

I assume this reference to size relates to whatever the upgrade might be over the standard UVO system, which includes a 7-inch screen and six stereo speakers. Upgrade to the twin-turbocharged V6 engine, and this setup adds three more speakers and an amplifier. The top version of UVO is paired with a 15-speaker, 720-watt Harmon Kardon premium Quantum Logic surround sound system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology.

Additionally, the Stinger is equipped with a wireless smartphone charging pad. A height-adjustable color heads-up display is also available for the car, and the driver information display nestled between the gauges tracks cornering g-forces and lap times, along with navigation directions, trip computer details, driver programmable settings, and more.

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