The Kia Stinger, introduced in 2017, proves there’s more to the Korean firm than compact crossovers and reasonably priced hatchbacks.
Despite being Kia’s first sports saloon, the top-end Kia Stinger GT S version gets plenty right in a class where it needs to compete with some of Germany’s finest: the Audi S4, BMW 440i Gran Coupé M Sport and Mercedes-AMG C43.
It’s no easy task, of course, but the Stinger challenges with direct and crisp handling, little body roll and huge amounts of grip. Occupants are also treated to decent levels of ride comfort, which suits the nature of the refined and responsive engines in the line-up.
Inside the Stinger, there’s an excellent, low driving position that’s extensively adjustable, as well as swathes of standard kit.
Entry-level GT-Line cars feature an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, a 7.0in digital instrument screen, a head-up display, leather upholstery and 18in alloy wheels. Move up to GT-Line S trim for an excellent, low driving position that’s extensively adjustable, as well as swathes of standard kit.
Top-rung GT S cars are fitted with 19in wheels, Brembo brakes, nappa leather trim and adaptive dampers.
Whether you choose petrol or diesel, the Stinger should be able to scratch your performance itch.
There’s one diesel: a 2.2-litre four-cylinder oil-burner (CRDi), producing 197bhp and 325lb ft. It’s the slowest engine of the range, but still offers a spritely 0-62mph time of 7.3sec. It also provides the best economy across the line-up, at 40.9mpg on the WLTP test cycle, although it’s nowhere near as good as the creamy and efficient diesels from Germany.
Two petrol options round off the range, starting with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot (T-GDi). This develops a punchy 244bhp and 260lb ft of torque to achieve 0-62mph in a claimed 5.8sec.
The range-topper is a sumptuous twin-turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 that makes 365bhp for a sportscar-baiting 0-62mph sprint time of 4.7sec and a top speed of 168mph. Indeed, it was the fastest-accelerating Kia to be sold in Europe before the introduction of the mould-breaking electric EV6 GT.
Every Stinger has rear-wheel drive, with power managed by an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a limited-slip differential, although manual control is available via paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
An update at the start of 2021 axed the 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines from the line-up, meaning the Stinger was henceforth offered in its range-topping V6 form only.
The model gained a new variable exhaust system and a sleeker exterior design, with stretched tail-lights and revised headlights. The cabin, meanwhile, received a new 10.25in touchscreen and revised interior materials for a more executive feel, plus several new driver aids were added, such as adaptive cruise control, enhanced blindspot monitoring and safe-exit warnings.
Need to know
Prices originally started from £31,995, meaning the Stinger undercut its German rivals. The cheapest used models now cost as little as £20,000. For this, you will find a selection of entry-level petrol and diesel examples. GT-Line S cars start from £23,000, while the top-rung GT S comes in slightly higher, at £23,500. Expect to spend a similar price for cars with fewer than 25,000 miles on the clock.
The GT-Line and GT-Line S trims are available with only the 2.2 CRDi and 2.0 TGDi engines, while range-topping GT S trim exclusively gets the 3.3 T-GDi.
Into the void: Kia gives the Stinger a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, but any work completed outside of the service schedule could void this, so carefully check the service history of any prospective purchase.
Short circuit: A recall was issued for 283 cars last year, as the electrical circuit in the hydraulic electronic control unit could short-circuit. The repair involves a replacement multi-fuse assembly, and owners can get it free of charge from a Kia dealer.
3.3 T-GDi: The most potent engine is also the most refined and the most fun. Prices have fallen far enough to make it a worthy investment.
2.2 CRDi: The diesel will munch the miles better than both petrol engines. Kia claims a range of more than 600 miles on a single tank.
Our top spec
GT S: We can’t recommend the 3.3-litre V6 without hailing the GT S trim. It offers the most comprehensive executive saloon experience.
Ones we found
2018 Kia Stinger 2.2 CRDi GT-Line, 3500 miles, £22,999
2018 Kia Stinger 3.3 GT S, 23,000 miles, £26,559
2019 Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line S, 9000 miles, £25,990