You can now only have a Stinger GT with a V6 engine. Most buyers go for the biggest, most powerful version of the car, so Kia decided to bin the 2.0-litre petrol Stinger and the 2.2-litre diesel versions. There’s something quite pleasing about that in 2021 when every other week we seem to learn about the death of another big engine.
It’s anachronistic in other ways, too. Climb inside, and there’s something quite old-school about the layout with its trio of circular air vents and chunky dashboard structure. And yes, there are proper buttons for the climate controls. You don’t have to do a whole lot of setup, either. There’s a little rotary dial for the driving modes (eco, comfort, sport and sport+) and a button to turn the traction control off, but it doesn’t get any more complicated than that.
It’s not entirely old-fashioned, though. All of the above sits alongside the latest, flashiest safety tech, including a neat blind-spot killing camera feed taken from under the mirrors. You also get a new infotainment system in this facelifted Stinger which is orders of magnitude better than the old one.
Also new are the front and rear light clusters, and an exhaust system with an electronically-controlled butterfly valve. The latter is intended to give “a more prominent, deeper exhaust note in Sport driving modes, or a quieter, more subdued exhaust note in Eco or Comfort mode,” Kia says. However the Stinger is set, though, the twin-turbo V6’s soundtrack is still disappointing.
There’s no doubting the unit’s effectiveness, though. After a little bit of turbo lag, the V6 pulls strongly through its thumping mid-range, feeling way more potent than its 361bhp and 376 lb ft factory figures suggest it might. The top speed is 167mph, and 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds.
That’s if you can get a clean getaway, which is easier said than done. The traction control seems to have all the authority of a supply teacher, doing precious little to calm the rear wheels down even when you’re in comfort mode. I can’t remember the last time I drove something so traction limited - in bone dry conditions the Stinger simply loves to light up the rear wheels.
The back end will step out with minimal provocation, but it’s not at all scary when this happens. Whether we’re talking about steering or throttle inputs, it takes a moment or so for the Stinger’s chassis to react. Everything happens at such a relaxed pace, that the Kia’s more unruly side is endlessly manageable. The steering is nicely predictable too, and a nice weight.
On the Rear-Wheel Drive Spikiness Index I’ve just made up, where an early F82 BMW M4 is a samurai sword, the Stinger is more of a butter knife. It’s a soft-edged, friendly sort of thing. Yes, you can firm the suspension up when flicking between moves, but this doesn’t alter the Stinger’s attitude dramatically. All that seems to achieve is to make the ride a little more uncomfortable, while also pumping up the driver’s seat side bolsters to better pin you in.
Whether it’s Kia’s intention or not, the Stinger GT has the air of a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a simple feeling car capable of delivering back-to-basics thrills without getting bogged down with stuff like Nurburgring lap times. What’s more, all of this is wrapped up in a very handsome package that gets a whole heap of attention. And no, few observers are going to give a damn about the more humble badge on the grille.
There aren’t a whole lot of cars like this anymore, primarily because few people want them. The Stinger hasn’t exactly been a runaway sales success for Kia, and there have been suggestions that it might not live beyond 2022. Should this come to pass, the world will be much poorer for it.
Kia Stinger GT stats and price
Engine: twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6
Torque: 376lb ft
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 167mph