Did you ever think you'd see factory installed Brembo brakes come standard on a Kia?! Heck, no. But that was before the "not-so-little Korean car company that could" unleashed the 2018 Kia Stinger GT. The Stinger is Kia's first-ever performance sports sedan and it's one Kia says can take on the Germans. Namely the Audi A5, Porsche Panamera, and BMW 640i Gran Coupe. While it may sound daring, Kia's aim at the Germans makes sense as a former Audi designer and BMW engineer both have something to do Kia's recent emergence in the performance market. (Peter Schreyer, formerly of Audi, designed it and one-time VP of BMW M engineering Albert Biermann handled the engineering. )
The Kia Stinger Experience
Kia is so confident in its performance pride and joy, it's taking it around the nation to give drivers a chance to put it to the test. It's not a hard sell situation, and there aren't any direct sales opportunities there. But rather it's more of a whet your appetite affair with product specialists and professional drivers on hand. I took part in the tour's recent Dallas stop. Participants were first treated to a brief intro about Kia and the Stinger's pedigree, then paired up with a small group for a walk around with a product specialist. It gives you a chance to check out the interior's comfortable bolstered seats and roomy back seat, as well as the GT's 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6 under the hood. Torque is rated at 376 lb-ft at 1,300 RPM. The interior design reminds me a lot of Audi, which makes sense given who designed it. You'll find leather, soft-touch surfaces and plenty of leg and headroom thanks to its long wheelbase and low-slung cabin. Although nice overall, the Audi and Kia's competitors still have an edge when it comes to all-out luxury, but the Harmon Kardon sound system speakers are a nice premium touch.
The Test Drive
Next up comes the fun, albeit too short in my opinion, part. You get to drive one. You're paired with a professional driver and take a Stinger through it spaces that include a 0-60 MPH acceleration run, a cornering test, and a slalom course. You'll also drive a competitor, followed by a hot lap with a professional driver at the wheel.
As for me, I drove a Kia Stinger GT2 all-wheel drive and an Audi A5 Sportback. (You can only pick one of the three competitors to drive.) From the moment I slipped into the contoured bucket seats, the Stinger surprised me. On the course, I found the handling more confident, fun to drive, responsive and corner-hugging than the A5. The Stinger GT's steering was much tighter and controlled than I'd expected. And it's faster, too, than all the German competitors it brought along
0-60 Time (according to Kia):
- Kia Stinger GT 4.6 seconds
- Porsche Panamera 3.0L V6 5.14 seconds
- BMW 640i Gran Coupe M Sport 5.18 seconds
- Audi A5 Sportback 5.7 seconds
My short time at the wheel pales in comparison to the grand finale. A professional driver takes you on a heart-pounding hot lap so you can really see what this performance sedan is capable of. This thing can corner! When it was time to stop, those Brembo brakes did their job well. I seriously got out of the car and said to myself what just happened here? But wait a second, that was a Kia! The top of the line Stinger GT, with the V6, 8-speed transmission, and AWD, runs a bit over $51,000. While not exactly cheap, it's more affordable than the pricier German models. But it could still be a tough sell for badge-conscious Americans who've never considered Kia in the same league. Which brings us back to the Kia Stinger Experience Tour. It's making seven more stops nationwide. My only wish is that it afforded drivers a little more time behind the wheel.
- Washington D.C.: March 10-11
- Charlotte: March 17-18
- New York: March 24-25
- Boston: March 31-April 1
- Chicago: April 7-8
- Houston: April 14-15
- Phoenix: April 21-22
You must register beforehand to reserve a spot. Also check out Terry Box's full review of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 here.