Kia adds pizzazz with Stinger GT

The new Kia Stinger GT is a midsize sport four-door. (Bud Wells photo)

With a last bite of key lime pie put away on an April night at the Oceanaire Restaurant in downtown Denver, I crawled into the driver’s seat of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT and drove away from two days and nights of events at the Colorado Convention Center.

The second night was opening of the 2018 Denver Auto Show, following the previous night’s Preview Gala. My evening ended with a dinner offered by General Motors at the Oceanaire.

The Stinger is a rear-wheel-drive sport four-door hatchback, with optional all-wheel drive. Normally, I’d prefer AWD for driving in our state, but in rear-drive setup, it performs much better. Its 3,829-pound curb weight is 200 pounds lighter than with AWD; it is quicker and handles impressively.

Some refer to the Stinger as a luxury fastback; I disagree. Audi, BMW, Mercedes are luxury; Kia and its ilk are not.

This Kia, though, is a standout, even with the fact that its exterior finish is colored like that of an old Fordson tractor. That would be gray; Kia calls it ceramic silver.

Built in Sohari, Korea, the Stinger is 190 inches in length on a wheelbase of 114.4 inches, width of 73.6 and height of 55 inches. Its track is 62.8 inches, both front and rear.

GT performance comes from a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 generating 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque, and mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddleshifters. It can break 5 seconds in a 0 to 60 run. It’s the highest-performance production vehicle in Kia’s history.

Throttle response, shift quickness and steering input adapt to drive modes, including comfort, eco, custom, smart and sport. Launch control can be activated in sport mode. The Stinger averaged 25.6 miles per gallon.

Other Stingers, lesser-priced, are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder of 255 horsepower and 260 torque.

Adding stopping power to the strong-running GT are large Brembo brake discs, 13.8 inches in front and 13.4 at the rear. It rides on low-profile Michelins, 225/40R19.

The GT interior is roomy, with deeply contoured, leather-covered seats and a D-shaped steering wheel. The cargo space beneath the rear hatch measures 23.3 cubic feet.

The Stinger GT with rear-wheel drive is sticker-priced at $39,250, including forward collision avoidance, smart cruise with stop-and-go, lane-keep assist, dual-zone automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen display with navigation, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, Bluetooth, rearview camera, rear-seat temperature-adjustable vents, push-button start and LED mood lights.

In the plans for several years, the production of the Stinger is a laudable attempt to bring some bigtime sport life into “the little company with the long-term warranty.” Kia, like its stablemate Hyundai, is known for the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Top model sellers for Kia are the Forte, Soul and Optima in the car line and Sorento and Sportage crossovers.  Rounding out the lineup are Rio and Cadenza cars, Sedona minivan and Niro crossover.