• 2018 Kia Stinger GT2: World-Class Performance GT [Review]


    Author enjoying an autocross romp in the GT2 Stinger – photo by Greg Jarom

    Who woulda thunk it? With only a mere six years in development from concept to production, Kia has produced a seriously impressive and highly capable fastback. It’s the all-new Stinger, and it’s available in five levels of trim or models. There’s the base Stinger, the Premium, then the GT, GT1 and this: the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2.


    The base and Premium Stinger house a direct-injected 2.0-liter, twin-turbo inline-4 that produces 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque from 1,400-4,000 rpm. All Stinger GT models are powered by a direct-injected 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6 rated at 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The 3.3-liter mill also develops 376 lb-ft of torque from 1,300-4,500 rpm.

    Both longitudinally front-mounted engines gear energy to either the rear wheels or to all four wheels through a $2,200 electronically-controlled AWD system. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Pricing ranges from $31,900 for a 2.0-liter RWD Base model to $49,200 for the 3.3-liter RWD GT2 model. Add another $900 for Destination and Handling.

    The exterior styling of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 fastback reflects its European influence. It was overseen by Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ long-time chief design officer and his design team in Frankfurt, Germany. The Stinger is essentially a five door, five passenger GT with a long wheelbase, long hood, broad shoulders and short overhangs. Kia honed its abilities on the legendary Nurburgring circuit. The design off with Kia’s signature grille, positioned above a lower air intake and flanked by additional air ducts and wraparound headlamps. The profile is sleek and aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.30. The rear finishes with an integrated deck-lid spoiler and twin dual exhaust outlets.


    Moving into the cabin, all Stingers come standard with a leather interior, with ultra-soft Nappa leather available as an option. The multi-function steering wheel is a thick leather-wrapped affair with paddle shifters, and the GT trim levels get a flat-bottom wheel. All Stingers offer an available, large color TFT instrument cluster with performance gauges including a track timer. The Stinger provides a substantial 23.3 cu.-ft. of cargo space that may be accessed via a power rear liftgate with available Smart Trunk functionality, as expected in a true GT car.

    “But it’s a Kia!” might be the negative reaction of some naysayers. “How can it possibly compete in the high performance Grand Touring arena?” Well, if you’re one of those individuals, kick that line of doubtful thinking to the curb, because you’re simply wrong.

    I’m here to tell you that the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 is truly a genuine high performance four-door GT that is not only capable of competing against, but actually outperforming many Asian and European vehicles that fall into this category on many levels. How can this be, you ask? It isn’t often that an auto manufacturer goes to great lengths to substantiate or prove their claims referencing the mettle of their new wares. However, the Kia team did just that and it’s really most refreshing to find that a vehicle lives up to what it’s claimed to be. We’re not talking hype here folks, but fact. It’s just that good.

    The Kia team arranged for a drive route that included the twisting mountain roads through the Angeles National Forest, freeways in the L.A. Basin and inner city congestion as well. The mid-point of the drive involved flogging the Stinger around a challenging autocross course at Six Flags Amusement Park. “That’s not so unusual,” you say? I agree – testing the Stinger over the course repeatedly was not really out of the ordinary. However, Kia putting the Stinger up against manufacturers over the same course was definitely out of the normal modus operandi. In this test, Kia pitched the Stinger against its German and Japanese rivals. Among 2017 models were an Infiniti Q50, Lexus GS 350, and a RWD Porsche Panamera. 2018 models included an Audi A7 Sportback, BMW 4-Seres Gran Coupe and 6-Series Coupe, and a Mercedes-Benz CLS – all powered by 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder engines.

    2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD
    [Photo: Arv Voss]


    My schedule only permitted driving the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 against the A7 Sportback, BMW 6-Series and the Porsche Panamera. The Audi A7’s performance was acceptable across the board, as was Panamera, despite feeling somewhat numb. I’m a fan of BMWs, but the BMW 6-Series was the worst of the lot. I didn’t test the 4-Series Bimmer, but those who did felt that even it was better than the 6-Series.

    Among its rivals, the Kia Stinger GT2 was clearly the most impressive. It served up the most athletic feel, the quickest acceleration, as well as smooth and intuitive automatic shifting. It was both predictable and stable. The 6-Series BMW was the only car in which I managed to wipe out course marking cones – and I wasn’t the only one. The Stinger was the least expensive and the Panamera the most expensive. The Stinger’s 3.3-liter V6 also delivered the most horsepower and torque of the bunch.

    The base Stinger rides on a more passive suspension that’s tuned to deliver a balance of handling and ride comfort, while the GTs are available with Kia’s first electronic Dynamic Stability Damping Control and standard high-performance Brembo brakes. Stock on my GT2 tester were staggered Michelin Pilot Sport tires. AWD models come with Dynamic Torque Vectoring offering five distinct settings – Smart, ECO, Comfort, Sport and Custom.

    Kia included multiple advanced driver assistance systems that combine to provide an enhanced driving experience. Those systems include Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian detection, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and Lane Keep Assist. You also get Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning. A height-adjustable color Head-Up Display is also available with info on speed, turn-by-turn navigation, blind spot detection, media and cruise control. The base audio system for the 2.0-liter turbo features six speakers and a seven-inch color touchscreen with the latest version of UVO, Kia’s infotainment system. The standard audio system found in the GT models ups the speaker number to nine and includes an external amplifier. A premium Harman/Kardon audio system is also available.


    Incidentally, the Kia Stingers happened to be pre-production vehicles.  The competitors were all production units. My test Stinger was an AWD GT2 with a HiChrome Red metallic exterior and a Black interior. Other colors in the range are Snow White Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Aurora Black Pearl, Ceramic Silver, Micro Blue Pearl, Panthera Metal Metallic and Sunset Yellow. The GT2 kicks off at $49,200. However, after adding all-wheel drive and destination charges, that figure rises to $52,200. All other features (and there were a ton of them – the complete list being too lengthy to include here) were standard fare.


    Driving the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD is a rewarding and joyous experience. It is comfortable and compliant over irregular surfaces, while exhibiting remarkably stable handling. It literally combines the ride quality of a luxury sedan with the handling attributes of a high performance sport sedan.

    Acceleration is instantaneous as long as the you keep engine’s turbos spooled up. On the low end of the broad torque range, however, you may experience minimal turbo lag. The transmission shifts smoothly in its automatic mode, but isn’t designed to respond quickly for really spirited scenarios. Fear not, though, for the paddle shifters offer quick changes for a satisfying level of control. The Brembo brakes do an excellent job of bringing the Stinger to a halt from speed.

    Given the performance quotient, feature content and value pricing, the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 represents an outstanding initial offering. Bottom line, Kia is now a serious player in this highly competitive market segment. It displays an emotional design quality, and its performance capability matches its good looks. Does it throw down the gauntlet, capable of challenging the European examples in this category? We think so, and it’s sure to grow ever better as time progresses.

    SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD

    Base MSRP: $49,200
    Price as Tested: $52,300
    Engine: 3.3-liter, DOHC, 24-valve twin-turbocharged V6 w/ direct injection
    Drivetrain: Longitudinally-mounted front engine, rear-wheel drive or electronically controlled all-wheel drive
    Horsepower: 365 hp @ 6,000 RPM
    Torque: 376 lbs.-ft. @ 1,300-4,500 RPM
    0-60 Acceleration: 4.7 seconds
    Top Speed: 167 MPH
    Transmission:  8-speed automatic w/ paddle shifters
    Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut w/ gas shock aborbers
    Rear: Multi-link with gas shock absorbers
    Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs w/ Brembo 4-piston front calipers, 2-piston rear calipers
    Tires: Front: Michelin Pilot Sport P225/40R19 x 8
    Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport P255/35R19 x 8.5
    Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons
    Fuel economy (EPA): 19 City/25 Highway MPG
    Drag Coefficient: 0.30


    Wheelbase: 114.4 inches
    Length:  190.2 inches
    Width: 73.6 inches
    Height:  55.1 inches
    Turning Circle: 37.5 feet
    Curb Weight: 3,792 pounds


    Arv Voss
    Arv Voss
    Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.

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    14 thoughts on “2018 Kia Stinger GT2: World-Class Performance GT [Review]

    1. This seems a really nice car, though out of my price range for the fun models. I love the flat hood on the Stinger; very American. Beautiful car. It makes me shake my head when I compare this effort to what Ford has allowed to happen to the Taurus SHO. (ess ayche oh, not “show”). I’m glad that Kia made this car, but mad that Ford didn’t. Come on Ford, return the S.H.O to its glory, and more. You have the rear-drive platform from the Mustang. You can easily fit AWD onto it.

        1. 4 door, all wheel drive, 167 horsepower, price… wow this gt2 is the bomb. I love this car. I will be getting one. I meant 167 mph + all the safety features.

    2. Now, if they would only develop this AWD GT platform into a compact pickup truck….are you listening, Hyundai?

      Make a mid-size version, also, while you are at it – Ridgeline needs some real competition.

      1. I hope they build a midsize or small truck with these engine options, imagine that torque at 1300Rpm in a truck, that beats a diesel. The torque is more litre for litre and at lower rpms and the torque curve is superior. Just have to hope Kia builds a truck but gives it more body clearance for an off road truck theme and it would do really well. But I think electric drive will stop them from doing anything, in a few years electric drive will take over, its already the rave, just cant build enough of them right now with limited production it will be hard to buy one.

    3. Omg have you seen ridgline numbers nobody buys them their sells are awful why would you make a vehicle to compete against a truck doesn’t sell. because of the established field Colorado canyon Nissan Frontier Toyota Tacoma getting into that field is not only stupid it’s a waste of time. Now I still think this Kia Pincher I mean stinger is a nice car and after seeing one sunday night at the gas station in red and nobody stoped to look at it not once however thier was a Chrysler crossfire with nice wheels that about 5 people were eyeing and checking it out what does this say if the average person could care less lol.

      1. Ridgeline sales are fantastic!
        Dont make the mistake of equating low sales numbers with being awful sellers. That’s like saying the Lambhorghini is a flop because they sell so few.

        Dealers can’t keep the Ridgelines in stock, at least not the upper trims. The problem is that Honda builds very few of them, they are just a line filler. Honda puts all of their manufacturing emphasis into the high-profit Pilot and the high-profile Odyssey, which are built in the same plant (4.5 miles from Talladega Speedway). That plant has a capacity of around 340k units annually if everything is going well. Production can be less for a number of reasons, such as re-tooling for a model update (Odyssey is brand new this year).

        Look at sales of Odyssey and Pilot. The Ridgeline is playing third fiddle to those two, and Honda is happy cranking them out at 40-45k per year. Dealers are happy because the upper trims usually don’t stay on the lot for more than a week, and they usually get MSRP for them. I can’t think of any manufacturer that would NOT want to have a high-demand model like that.

        Low sales does NOT always equal low demand.

    4. Agreed, i see more first gen ridglines then Sec gen, ground clearance is better on first gen as well. Toyota Chevy and when ranger comes back will be an established field older rangers sell better then new ridglines lol

      1. It not only doesn’t look like a charger in the rear, your American flag is kind of funny as an emoticon to post in defense of a car owned by an Italian company (Fiat).

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