By Doug Firby
and Lisa Monforton
Like its cousin Hyundai, Kia is a Korean carmaker known for its value-priced vehicles. The cars and SUVs offer great value in hardy vehicles with lots of features. They’re also offered for relatively low dollars.
Kia is busting out of the hive with its first premium sport sedan, the Stinger. It’s a clear signal that this Asian automaker is going after a premium category dominated by BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
And they’re not fooling around. This car is thousands of dollars less than its competitors, yet it looks like an authentic Gran Turismo with its long hood, sharply-sloped roofline and quad exhaust tubes. Alloy 19-inch wheels are standard, as are red Brembo brake calipers and Michelin Pilot Sport performance tires. Its stance is wide and aggressive.
It comes with a beefy 3.3-litre twin-turbo Lambda II V6 engine, rated at 365 horsepower and 376 pound/feet of torque.
The eight-speed automatic transmission comes with a paddle-shift. A drive mode dial allows five varying selections to change throttle mapping and shift points.
The Canadian version of the car is all-wheel drive. Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control will shift up to 80 per cent of power to the rear wheels in Sport mode and send up to 50 per cent to the front wheels if things get slippery.
Inside, the car features leather upholstery, heated 12-way power seats, a heated multi-function flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, auto headlamps, hill-assist, blind spot detection, rear view camera, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, dark chrome mirrors and trim accents.
It’s a lot of car at a price point just under $50,000 for the upgraded Limited edition, which adds such goodies as: Nappa leather, seat ventilation, lumbar and bolster adjustments, heated rear seats, Dynamic Bending headlights, 360-degree camera, lane keep assist, head-up display, and a Harmon/Kardon sound system with subwoofers under the front seats.
My wife and I tried a Limited edition for a few days recently. Here are our impressions:
Doug: Huh! Kia, eh? Coulda fooled me. This is a good looking, sporty car. What do you think?
Lisa: Definitely! For a carmaker that I only associate with the cutesy Soul, the Stinger’s look and handling is – dare I say – sexy. Swoon.
Doug: I thought it’s a pretty heavy car and found the handling solid but weighty. No argument on the looks, though. Actually, it looks an awful lot like a BMW, although it has some distinctive features. I love the blackened chrome trim. It adds a touch of class. There’s also a bit of retro feel to it.
Lisa: I didn’t care for the blacked out chrome, but I love the lines. The interior is beautiful, too.
Doug: I’m going to be the curmudgeon here and point out that the leather is nice, but not up to the standards set by the German automakers. It’s one area where I thought the cost-cutting was a bit obvious.
Lisa: You go ahead. I’d still take one of these for my birthday.
The Stinger is available now. It’s four-cylinder GT model lists at $39,995 and the all-you’d-ever-want Limited edition, with the turbo V6, lists at $49,995.
2018 Kia Stinger GT Limited
Configuration: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission
Engine: 3.3-litre DOHC, direct injection, twin-turbo V6 (365 horsepower, 376 pound/feet of torque)
Fuel economy: 12.7 litres/100 kilometres city, 9.6 litres/100 kilometres highway
Cargo capacity: 660 litres, 1,158 litres with back seats folded
Price: Stinger GT Limited, $49,995 plus destination fee
Veteran political commentator Doug Firby is president of Troy Media Digital Solutions and publisher of Troy Media. Lisa Monforton is an award-winner Calgary-based travel writer. Follow @lisamonforton on Instagram and Twitter.