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2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 First Test: Look out BMW, Here Comes Korea

A funny thing happened on the way back from the Mojave Desert the other day. Someone tossed me the keys to a Kia, and I decided to take the long way home, seeking out some of the great driver’s roads that snake through the San Gabriel Mountains before heading down the Angeles Crest Highway into the hustling bustle of the City of Angels. Kia and driver’s roads … it sounds an unlikely combination. But the 2018 Kia Stinger is a car that will shatter your perceptions about Korea’s value brand.

Here the aspect: My trip was the bottom Stinger, the only powered by way of the 255-hp turbocharged 4-banger, rolling on 18-inch alloys shod with modest segment 225/forty five Bridgestone Potenza tires, no longer the loaded, pinnacle-of-the-variety, $forty nine,500 GT, with the punchy 365-hp twin-faster 3.0-liter V-6 below the hood and larger wheels and tires all spherical. The simplest option outfitted turned into the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems package deal, which bundles collectively energetic safety technology along with ahead collision caution, lane keeping help, and rear pass-traffic indicators. Total price? $33,900.

It?S a steal. There isn?T a higher sporty, rear-drive, four-door coupe for the cash inside the enterprise. Actually, there truely isn?T every other sporty, rear-drive, 4-door coupe for the cash, duration. This Kia is in a class all its personal.

The Stinger looks the part, with a sweeping roofline, a broad shouldered stance, and strong graphics. From some angles there are distant echoes of the Maserati 3200 GT designed by Giugiaro in the late 1990s; it’s a trick of the eye, of course, because the two cars are completely different, but it speaks to the effort Kia—and now also Hyundai—design supremo Peter Schreyer put into a car that in many ways has been a personal passion project. I recall Schreyer showing me a sketch of a car that would become the Kia GT concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Show—harbinger of the Stinger—and insisting he was going to get it made.

Apart from the smaller wheels and much less aggressively styled front and rear fascias, there are few visible differences among the Stinger and the more effective GT. The GT receives additionally some greater badging, smoked chrome trim, and crimson-painted brake calipers, however that?S about it. Both cars rock quad exhausts and vents on the hood and bodyside. The Stinger might be the entry-stage model, however it doesn?T appearance it.

There are some greater tells internal, but. The base Stinger is the best model inside the lineup (the others are the $37,000 Stinger Premium, the $39,000 Stinger GT, the $43,500 Stinger GT1, and aforementioned $49,500 Stinger GT2) with an antique college foot operated e-brake and a easy 3.Five-inch LCD show on the instrument panel. All others get a kingdom-of-the-moment electronic e-brake switch and a 7.Zero-inch TFT display among the tach and the speedo. The V-6-powered GTs also all include a flat-bottom steerage wheel, aluminum trim rather than gloss black plastic at the center console, and GT logos embossed into the headrests. That?S now not to mention the bottom Stinger is a penalty field. Standard equipment includes a leather-based-certain heated guidance wheel, leather seats?That are strength adjustable and heated up the front?And a 7.0-inch audio show touchscreen that could run Kia?S UVO infotainment system along side Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Stinger is built on the Hyundai/Kia rear-drive architecture, which will also underpin the forthcoming Genesis G70. As we’ve noted before, it’s a surprisingly large vehicle, 7.5-inches longer overall than a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, with a 3.8-inch longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase helps not only deliver a roomy interior and generously proportioned load space, but it also delivers decent rolling ride quality, especially on L.A.’s notoriously choppy freeways.

At 3,649 pounds, the base Stinger weighs the same as a 2.0-liter Audi A5 coupe, despite having two extra doors and a hatchback, and is 356 pounds lighter than a fully loaded, V-6 powered Stinger GT. Developing its 255 hp at 6,200 rpm and 260lb-ft of torque at 1,400-4,500 rpm, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger under the hood boasts better power density than similar engines from Audi and BMW. That doesn’t translate to a performance advantage on the track, however.

The Stinger runs 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, 1.Four seconds slower than the 2.Zero-liter A5 coupe, and 1.1 seconds slower than the BMW 330i sedan we tested in advance this 12 months. The region mile takes 15 seconds even, the Kia sailing through the pinnacle quit at 95.2 mph. The Audi nails it in 13.Eight seconds at 100.5 mph, and the BMW nails it in 14.Three seconds at 98.Five mph. Things are a little nearer on the parent eight?The Stinger?S 26.Eight-2nd time is just 5-tenths of a 2nd off the A5 coupe and seven-tenths at the back of the BMW sedan.

A lot of the performance benefit loved by means of the Audi is right down to its easy, efficient, and lightning fast DSG transmission; the Stinger?S Hyundai/Kia engineered eight-pace shifts slower, and its torque converter chews more energy. The BMW?S gain is mass?The smaller 3 Series sedan weighs 112 pounds much less?And the truth the guys in Munich nonetheless recognize a issue or two about making a automobile move round corners. But part of the problem is the Stinger?S engine; despite the fact that especially quiet and refined, and with desirable mid-variety punch, it doesn?T quite have the crisp throttle response of the Germans, particularly below 2,000 rpm.

Think about those last couple of paragraphs for a second, though: We’ve just been comparing a Kia with an Audi and a BMW. Of course anyone can play the numbers game on the track, and any comparison with Germany’s elite would be meaningless if the Kia Stinger drove like a cheap and cheerful bucket of bolts on the road. The point is, it doesn’t. That sound you hear is sharp intakes of breath in Ingolstadt and Munich.

The Stinger drives more like a European vehicle than anything from Korea to date and most things from Japan. There?S a measured, nearly Germanic, weighting to all the controls and to the body motions. It doesn?T have the grunt to take pleasure in smoky powerslides with all of the nannies switched off?As you could in the rear-force V-6s?But the chassis feels lively and pleasing, although. A little greater preliminary chew from the brakes might be beneficial to easily settle the auto on nook access, and a hint more front-cease grip might complement the accurate steerage, but otherwise the Stinger feels impressively steady and composed through the twisty bits.

As nightfall settled at the run again to L.A., it became obvious the same old headlights have been better ideal for cruising the intense lights of Seoul than the dark canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Stinger effortlessly outrunning even excessive beam. However, the $37,000 Stinger Premium is available with brighter LED headlights (and the extra money additionally buys you a sunroof, a strength adjustable steerage column, the 7.Zero-inch TFT display screen inside the tool panel, the electronic e-brake, reminiscence for the seat adjustment, sat-nav, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio machine, which makes it a solid value). And we opt for the snickety-snick movement of the electronic PRNDL shifter on the pinnacle-stage GT to the slightly clunky feel of the old school T-bar item on the relaxation of the lineup.

Yep, we’re down to picking nits. For a first effort at a car like this, the four-cylinder Kia Stinger is genuinely impressive. And the more we drive it, the more it reminds us of a proto-BMW 3 Series. It’s not yet fully formed and not yet fully mature, but it’s a car that, should it follow a logical evolutionary path, could eventually occupy the same hallowed ground as the 3 Series once did among enthusiasts who wanted an affordable, sporty, rear-drive car they could drive every day.

And the chances of that happening? Well, as former BMW M engineering veep Albert Biermann is now Hyundai/Kia’s head of high performance vehicle development, you’d be foolish to bet against it, especially given the Korean automaker’s lavish R&D spending and the dizzying speed with which it brings new vehicles to market. Be afraid, BMW. Be very afraid.

The post 2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 First Test: Look out BMW, Here Comes Korea appeared first on Motor Trend.

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