Five surprising first impressions of the new Kia Stinger GT
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This week we've been testing Kia's new Stinger GT. And if you want the exclusive two-word review for it, here it is: "It's good."
If you want the full review for it, you'll have to wait for Saturday's edition of Driven in the NZ Herald where it will sit proudly on the cover. In the meantime, here are five quick musings from our first days with the Kia that stings.
Despite its dimensions, the Stinger doesn't exactly offer oodles of interior space.
With the seats in their lowest setting, head room up front is limited. And it's the same in the back for those who want to lean back into the headrest, thanks to a sloping roofline. Admittedly, the included power sunroof doesn't help matters. But, that's only part of the equation.
I have a weird theory that an economy car's interior is designed to trigger notions of 'value' by offering as much space as possible, while a premium-priced car's interior triggers notions of 'luxury' by being built around the occupants in the front seats and shoving as much technology into their periphery as possible.
The Kia's definitely more part of the latter than the former. Which isn't all bad, given the interior has great...
Fit and finish
This is perhaps Kia's best strength, and it's something that can be felt as 'low' in their range as the diminutive little Picanto.
That said, it was still surprising to hop into a car that's built with such decent materials that feel so nice in hand, only to have a proud Kia badge on the steering wheel.
Favourites include the rocker switches for the heated and ventilated seats (which show what level of hot or cold they are via blue and red lights), the admittedly Audi and Mercedes–esque air conditioning vents that open and close with a satisfyingly premium 'tick', and the big gearknob. It looks a bit big and dopey at first, but it's shaped perfectly to fit into the palm of your hand.
It's not perfect of course. The plastics at the base of the door cards and dash are pretty crumby. But at this price point that's par for the course.
Weight (how much there is, and how little you feel it)
It's a svelte looker, sure, but it ain't light.
The Stinger weighs in with a kerb weight of 1,653kg/1730kg in its base four-banger form, and 1,758kg/1,817kg in this top spec Stinger GT form. Its gross weight when all's said and done is 2,185kg across the board.
That's heavy, but once you're in motion you'd never really know it's there. Continental ContiSportContact tyres on sizable 19-inch shoes, a firm suspension set-up, and light steering make the Kia not only a breeze to handle around town, but a surprisingly darty thing when tackling fun roads.
More on that later of course...
The different modes actually make a difference
Speaking of the suspension, the difference in suspension between Sport mode and Comfort mode is huge — among the biggest I've ever felt in a car.
The way the engine behaves changes, too. In Sport mode it becomes much more frantic and eager, while in Comfort, Eco, and Smart modes it slips into a more relaxed persona (it gets quieter, too).
It makes a difference from the legions of cars that are barely any different when sampled in different modes.
It looks good
It's a bit contrarian of me, but I wasn't convinced of the Stinger's looks for a long time. The proportions and lines weren't an issue, but the headlights, taillights, and Tigernose grill were.
Happy to report then that in person it's a great looking car (a thought verified by the number of footpath and stand-still traffic rubberneckers wanting a second glance).
Check out Driven's full road test of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT in Saturday's edition of the NZ Herald