Forget taking a rocket to mars. Let’s talk about what’s happening right here on earth. And that’s the 2019 Kia Stinger GT2. A 365-horsepower sports sedan that accelerates so thrillingly fast, you’ll be leaving your stomach at the last light. Just ask my sister who I took for a spin.
This is the Stinger’s second model year after arriving in 2018 to much industry acclaim and it’s praise that’s held up for its sophomore year. Designed to go up again the Germans, this near-luxury grand tourer needs to do a lot, and it does, thanks to influences from former Audi and BMW M design gurus involved in its development. The Stinger succeeds in its endeavor to be a Gran Turismo that delivers exciting handling and performance, while at the same time giving passengers a quiet cabin with comfortable seating for up to five with plenty of room for luggage. All this at a value that’s unheard of among its German counterparts.
My rear-wheel drive GT2 review vehicle is the range-topper of 6 trims, loaded with all the bells and whistles which includes a new Surround View Monitor and heated rear seats for 2019.
The big story for me is the Stinger GT’s powertrain. WOW is it fast. It’s smooth power delivery and seemingly lightning-fast acceleration off the line had me at hello. Kia cites a 0-to-60 time of as low as 4.7 seconds. A 3.3-liter V-6 powertrain (shared with the Genesis G70) delivers 365-horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque and comes mated to an 8-speed automatic. If you want comfortable city driving go for Comfort mode. But for the real fun stuff, Sport mode is the way to go. You can just feel its eagerness -- its power simmering underneath the surface waiting for your permission to let loose.
Larger and longer than a roadster, the rear-wheel drive GT2’s driving dynamics are different from a two-seater, something I had to remind myself after spending a week with the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF. Whereas the Miata is less about horsepower and more about overall driving dynamics, the Stinger GT2 embodies both along with a much stiffer suspension, high-performance dampers for supreme handling coupled with Brembos for confident braking in any situation. The GT2 comes with standard launch control and limited slip differential that helps distribute power where needed to keep you in control during turns. All-wheel drive is optional.
The GT2 gets many looks thrown its way with its low, long sleek, hood and aerodynamic fastback shape that is designed to minimize drag. LED headlights and daytime running lights flank an exclusive GT grille with matching lower trim. Highlights include the exclusive GT black chrome side vents and surrounds and the GT2’s 19-inch wheels. LED taillights and turn signals round out the back along with a dual-twin black and chrome exhaust.
The Stinger’s cabin is driver-centric with Audi influences and includes soft-touch materials, aluminum and satin-chrome accents. Its low-slung seating profile fits like a glove and everything is within easy reach.
You’ll grab a power tilt-and-telescopic perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle-shifters. My Ceramic Silver GT2 comes with red leather Nappa-trimmed, comfortably contoured bucket seats with firm side bolstering. The driver’s side is 16-way power adjustable. The GT2 sports heated and cooled front seats and adds new heated rear seats for 2019.
A large 7-inch LCD screen with sport gauges allows you to monitor everything from G-forces to turbo boost levels in a large font I found easy to read. The speedometer tops out at 180-MPH on the GT trims.
An 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and a backup camera also hosts Kia’s UVO infotainment system which I found responsive. It’s equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GT2 comes with an upgraded 15-speaker 720-watt Harman Kardon Premium Audio system. Dual-zone climate control and rear vents are standard across the lineup, as are front and rear power outlets with USB chargers. Wireless charging is new to the GT2 this year.
A leather wrapped gear shifter awaits you on the aluminum center console, along with the drive mode selector where you can choose between Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom.There are also buttons for the electronic parking brake with auto brake hold and the button to turn off stop/start which I found to be more noticeable than most similar systems. It’s also where you find the controls for the heated/ventilated front seats, camera sensors, and GT2 exclusive surround view camera.
The Kia Stinger is very roomy both in terms of leg- and head-room, and comes with your usual 60/40 rear seat split along with a standard size powered sunroof. The one thing I will say about the second row is that there is a sizeable hump in the floor any middle passenger will have to deal with. The back row has a drop down console with cupholders and visibility is great out the back. Trunk cargo space is sizeable. The GT2 is the only trim to get Smart Trunk with power opening. A cargo mat is a $125 option.
Blind Spot & Rear-Cross Traffic Collision Warning are newly standard to the entire Stinger lineup. My GT2 adds standard High-Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Parking Distance Warning, Smart Cruise Control and Driver Assist Warning that detects driver fatigue. Additionally, the GT2 is the only trim to get low-beam assist, a heads up monitor, and a surround view monitor.
What You’ll Pay
It’s hard to fathom how Kia packaged all of this up on my GT2 model for roughly $51,000 but they did. I suspect it’s largely due to brand perception. Because for the power you get, its looks, and interior, you’d certainly expect it to cost more. So it’s not just a great performer but a great value in my book.
This true driver enthusiasts sports sedan that doubles as an enjoyable daily driver hits the right note with its combination of performance and mid-premium luxury. The Stinger still has to fight a public perception battle as it makes a name for itself in the heavily dominated German sports sedan arena, but I think it’s a battle the Stinger proves itself more than ready for in the days ahead.
2019 Kia Stinger GT2
- What I liked most: It’s performance - such incredible acceleration and handling.
- What I would change: A sedan as long as the Kia would be great with a panoramic sunroof if design allows.
- MSRP: Base price, $50,200; as equipped, $51,815.
- Official color: Ceramic Silver with Red Interior Color Pkg ($495)
- Fuel economy: 17 city/ 20 highway/ 25 mpg combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,759.
- Spare tire: Temporary spare.
- Weight: 3,887 (GT2 RWD)
- Length-width-height: 190.2” long/ 73.6” wide/ 55.1” inches tall
- Fuel-tank capacity: 15.9 gallons.
- Towing capacity: N/A
- 2019 Kia Stinger GT2 in a few words: A rocket to ride worthy of all its accolades.
- Warranty: 10-year, 10,000 Powertrain, 5-year, 60,000-mile Basic Warranty, 5-year, 60,000-mile Roadside Assistance
- Final assembly location: Schari, Korea.
- Manufacturer’s website: Kia