Kia Stinger hatchback (2017 - ) review
The Stinger is a part-hatchback-part-saloon-part-coupe from Kia that offers a value-for-money alternative to premium cars like the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
Interested in buying a Kia Stinger?
How good does it look?
The Stinger is an attempt by Kia to create a car that isn’t just practical, affordable and ticks logical boxes, but is desirable and good-looking, too. We’ll leave it to you to judge whether it’s been successful, but the result is a saloon-style car with a hatchback boot and swoopy coupe-like lines. It’s available in three different trim levels, all of which nudge towards the premium end of the market. There are no entry-level, steel wheel-wearing models here. The GT-Line cars come with 18-inch alloy wheels, while GT-Line S models have the same and add full LED headlights. Top-of-the-range GT-S cars have 19-inch alloys as standard. Sunset Yellow paint is included as standard, and the only option box you can tick is for five other choices of paint.
What's the interior like?
Kia finds itself up against premium manufacturers like Audi and BMW in finding buyers for the Stinger, and that means the firm really has its work cut out in matching them for interior quality. While the Stinger has a damn good stab at it – the cabin looks and feels very nice - it’s not quite as rock solid or as sophisticated as Audi or BMW products. That said, it’s still a country mile ahead of any other current Kia, and more than acceptable for the money you pay.
You sit low in the car, on seats that are heated and electrically adjusted on all models, and are also ventilated on the GT-S. The steering wheel adjusts electrically to give you a sporty driving position.
All models have an 8.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system with satellite-navigation, which includes traffic information, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for connecting your smartphone. You also get a head-up display as standard in all models, which displays speed and navigation instructions on the windscreen to save glancing down at the instrument panel. Said panel skips traditional analogue dials in favour of a digital 7.0-inch display.
How practical is it?
The low front seating position is mirrored in the back, with chairs that sit low to the floor and give plenty of head-room for two adults despite the sloping roofline. There’s a third space in the middle, but taller passengers will struggle there, and the seat is also rather narrow. The wireless charger – standard in all cars – gives you somewhere to store your phone, there are two cupholders by the gearstick, and a cubby hole under the armrest. The boot is quite shallow, but the hatchback boot lid means it’s easy to load stuff in, with useful 406 litres of space. However, that’s not as impressive as you get in the A5 Sportback or Volkswagen Arteon. Still, the rear seats fold down – not quite flat, but not far off – giving a larger 1114-litre load space, although again, it’s not quite as capacious as rivals.
What's it like to drive?
Kia describes the Stinger as a ‘gran turismo’, or grand tourer, which means it needs to strike a good balance between comfort and excitement behind the wheel. That’s a brief that it absolutely nails. The ride is a fraction on the firm side, firmer than in the Audis and BMWs that it competes with, so you do feel the nature of the surface beneath you. Importantly, however, it never feels too jittery and potholes are dealt with really effectively, so it’s still a car that keeps you comfortable at all times. It handles really tidily as well. The firmness in the suspension keeps the body very level in bends, there’s bags of grip and the rear-wheel-drive layout helps make it feel even more agile. The steering helps on that score, too, because it’s quick and responsive without being twitchy, and it’s crammed full of genuine feel. This really is a very good car to drive, and can easily keeps up with its German rivals on both comfort and handling.
The range-topping V6-powered GTS version comes on an even more sophisticated suspension which alters its behaviour according to which driving mode you select. It’s effective, and it’s a more engaging car to drive than the more humble versions, but that’s more to do with the engine than the suspension.
How powerful is it?
Three engine choices are available. The GT-Line and GT-Line S trim levels come with either a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 247 horsepower, or a 2.2-litre diesel with 200 horsepower. Both are strong and flexible, giving strong acceleration when you need it and relaxed progress when you don’t, and both work really well with the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. There are manual paddles by the steering wheel if you want to shift cogs yourself, but even so, there’s no proper manual mode; after a few seconds of manual shifting, it’ll revert to full auto mode, which might annoy those that want more control.
The petrol is a shade quieter than the diesel, and for more of the time, but in fairness, the diesel only gets raucous when you work it hard, which you very rarely have to.
The performance-focused GT-S, meanwhile, has a twin-turbocharged, 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine with a very serious 370 horsepower, which is more than the Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 440i Gran Coupe, but slightly less than Jaguar’s XE S. However, all those rivals are considerably more expensive, even before you start ticking options boxes.
The GT-S will hit 62mph in less than five seconds, which is seriously quick, and the power is delivered in a smooth, linear fashion. It’s understated in its approach to speed, rather than a screaming, adrenaline-filled thrill-ride, which is well suited to the character of the car.
How much will it cost me?
All versions of the Stinger undercut the equivalent Audi and BMW by many thousands on price (although some might expect prices to be even lower than they are), and the Kia’s resale values aren’t all that far off, either. However, all versions are also considerably less efficient than their German counterparts, meaning you’ll spend much more on tax and fuel. In fact, the efficiency difference is so great that in many cases, it totally evens out the Kia’s price advantage, so over a typical three-year ownership period, the Kia will still cost you a roughly similar amount to run overall.
How reliable is it?
As a brand-new model, we’ll have to wait and see how well the Stinger does for reliability, but Kia has an excellent reputation as a manufacturer. The brand sits solidly mid-table in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which ranks manufacturers as a whole, and Kia sits equal top in JD Power’s 2017 Vehicle Dependability Survey. Should anything go wrong, all new Kias have an impressive seven-year warranty.
How safe is it?
The Stinger scored the maximum five stars during crash testing by safety organisation Euro NCAP. Every car comes with six airbags, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assistance and speed limit information. GT-Line S and GT-S cars also have a system to spot vehicles in your blind spot, and rear cross traffic alert which helps spot approaching vehicles when reversing. An active bonnet system helps protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
How much equipment do I get?
With the only option across the range being metallic paint, each Stinger comes with an impressively high level of standard kit. All models have keyless entry and start, a wireless phone charger and adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter to help you stay within the limit when necessary. The GT-Line comes with a nine-speaker sound system, heated electric front seats and leather upholstery. The higher-grade models, GT-Line and GT-S, have a 15-speaker system from Harmon Kardon and a 360-degree camera system to help you manoeuvre, as well as an electric boot lid, heated rear seats and ventilated front seats for extra hot days. The GT-S gets a nicer Nappa leather upholstery, and extra adjustability on the front seats.
Because you’re not swayed by a fancy badge, and you want a premium, technology-filled driving experience without spending more than necessary. The Stinger fills a space between traditional volume brands and the more expensive, more luxurious manufacturers, and it deserves to do well.