The 2018 Kia Stinger is an all-new five-passenger sedan that is gunning for luxury brands such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW and Lexus. It'll likely be priced below its main competitors, and from a size perspective, it lands somewhere between a compact and midsize sedan.
Two models will be offered, the Stinger and Stinger GT, with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. The base Stinger model features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while the top GT trim gets a larger twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6, good for 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters will be the sole transmission offered for both models. Kia says the GT will have a top speed of 167 mph and will accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in around 5 seconds.
Other Kia firsts debuting in the Stinger include an all-new electronically adjustable suspension called Dynamic Stability Damping Control. Suspension damping can be softened or firmed up on the fly, with five selectable drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Personal and Smart) to help optimize for either handling performance or ride comfort. Also tied to the drive modes are various settings for steering, throttle response and transmission shifting. Rear-wheel-drive Stinger models receive a limited-slip differential to help put power down to the ground more effectively, and all-wheel-drive models are endowed with torque vectoring, which manipulates braking at individual wheels to allow the Stinger to carve a tighter line.
An attractive spec sheet is just half of the story. Kia's exterior design has drastically improved over the years, and the Stinger is one of its most aggressive executions to date. Sharp, swept-back LED headlights provide the illusion of speed even at rest, while gaping vents in the front end appear to facilitate the inhalation of large quantities of air. At the back are quad tailpipes underscored by a rear diffuser. Lastly, the Stinger's fastback design, which meshes the functionality of a hatchback with a slimmer sedan profile, resonates well with today's style trends — think Audi A7 and Tesla Model S.
This all said, we believe the Stinger's biggest hurdle will be the look and feel of its interior cabin. Kia claims the level of sophistication is elevated with more substantial switchgear and the option of soft, premium leather upholstery and seats with adjustable air cushions. Though the Kia models are some of the best equipped vehicles in their respective segments, sometimes the execution lacks a quality feel compared to the class leaders.
Some additional interior features include a color TFT screen within the gauge cluster that displays performance data such as lap times, cornering g-force and engine-oil temperature, along with the more standard trip computer functions and navigation prompts. Kia's already comprehensive suite of active driver safety and convenience aids is also available, with the addition of a new Driver Attention Alert system. The system monitors driving inputs to determine if you're getting drowsy and will suggest that you take a break if needed.
Although no pricing info has been released, knowing Kia, we expect it will be very competitive. And if this holds true, the 2018 Kia Stinger may have just what it takes to win over customers from the best luxury brands when it goes on sale in late 2017.