The Kia Stinger has arrived Down Under and we’ve already driven it a couple of times. Here are the five things you need to know about it.

TRACK BACK A DECADE and try telling anyone who’d listen that there’d be genuine hype about a new Kia and you’d get laughed at, then humiliated.

Back yourself and explain that it would, in fact, be feverish hype, and that said Kia would be generating excitement far greater than any seen for an all-new Holden Commodore due in a few short months. Oh, how the automotive landscape can change so quickly.

So how can Kia, once the butt of poor build quality jokes, and current vendor of retirement home favourites Picanto and Rio, get Aussie car shoppers so aquiver?

Because times have changed, people. Korean Kia is the fastest growing volume seller in Australia, and is flush with decent offerings at tempting prices…then there’s that unbeatable seven-year warranty.

And now this. The Stinger. A 3.3-litre V6 twin turbo, 272kW, 510Nm, rear-wheel drive GT car that sprints to 100kmh in under five seconds…if you pick the proper one.

Looks pretty sexy too. No wonder your Holdens and Fords are nervous. Who knows, maybe instead of that BMW, Audi, Merc or Alfa Romeo, shoppers would fancy a punt on one of these undeniably presence-packed Koreans without the Euro sticker price?

And wouldn’t it be great if Australians didn’t simply default buy SUVs and actually consider a practical sportback GT car for family duties?

Kia Got Big Names On Board For Stinger And It Shows

Albert Biermann used to be found setting up then slinging BMW’s performance M cars around the Nurburgring, now he’s Kia’s head of high performance development.

Under the watch of Biermann the Stinger’s ride and handling were honed in Germany at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and it’s all a bit smart under the skin.

2018 Kia Stinger Review by Practical Motoring

There’s Kia’s Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), an electronically-adjustable suspension system that can be tuned via the Drive Mode Select. Front and rear dampers can be firmed or softened independently, and you can pick from five drive modes: Eco, Sport, Comfort, Smart and Custom.

Yes, that’s the sort of tech we’d expect from our German brands, but the Stinger’s shape also has a distinctly Euro flavour too.

2018 Kia Stinger Review by Practical Motoring

Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors is Peter Schreyer, pinched from Audi in 2006 after penning the original (and most influential) Audi TT in 1998. The highly regarded German has been responsible for the bulk of Kia’s modern designs, which have helped transform the Korean’s image.

Car companies aren’t exactly shy when it comes to hyperbole surrounding its latest offerings, but Kia has every right to be a bit smugly confident with the Stinger.

“I think for the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event,” said the aforementioned Albert Biermann. “Because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks, but also the way it drives. It’s a whole different animal.”

2018 Kia Stinger Review by Practical Motoring

On the Australian front, Kia Motors Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith is equally chipper: “This is the car that brings passion and desire to the Kia brand,” he said. “It is styled to catch the eye and the heart, it is powered for a big country and tuned and balanced to provide the sort of easy long-distance performance that Australian drivers have come to expect from their family cars.”

Powerplants And Spec To Suit Your Desires And Wallet

We Aussies get the choice of two petrol engines: a single turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 182kW/353Nm or a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 pumping out 272kW and 510Nm. Both send their power through the rear treads only, via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

You get the choice of three specifications – S, Si and GT-Line with the four-cylinder car, or S, Si and GT for the V6.

2018 Stinger

Prices start from $45,990 for the entry-level 200S, the 200Si is $52,990 and GT-Line $55,990. If you want the right engine (c’mon, you gotta get the V6), expect to pay $48,990 for the 330S, $55,990 the 330Si and $59,990 for range-topping GT, all before on-roads.

All with the V6 can see 100kmh in 4.9-seconds using launch control, but we shouldn’t bag the four-cylinder too much. It cracks 100kmh in a neat six seconds, which is more that respectable for a proper GT car.

The Specification List Rivals Premiums With Similar Performance Costing Almost Twice The Price

Yes, really. Kia likes to load its cars with features to give its salespeople plenty of ammunition to dazzle customers, and its new flagship Stinger model had to be spec-heavy.

That said is hasn’t entered the “self-driving” semi-autonomous arms race the Germans in particular seem intent on battling out. Guess what? Plenty of large car shoppers aren’t bothered with these Big Brother-esque additions.

2018 Kia Stinger Review


What do you get then? Pretty advanced safety including Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management, autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian recognition, smart cruise control, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, 360-degree camera, blind spot detection and high beam assist.

You score a head-up display to keep a peripheral watch on your speed, navigation guidance, audio and blind spot detection. There’s a wireless smartphone charging pad for all Stingers, and a 7-inch touchscreen for entry-level cars; 8-inch for everything else. GT-Line and GT grades, meanwhile, score a 15-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system.

All Stingers feature 18 or 19-inch alloys, GTs get an auto tailgate to raise the attractive sportback hands-free, while V6 cars score mighty 350mm Brembo brake rotors with four-piston calipers, plus a mechanical limited slip differential. That’s your suitable track toy right there.

The Interior Really Gives The Germans A Run For Their Money

It is Commodore priced, but a step ahead in cabin comfort. My first in-seat experience helped cement my belief that we have a seriously strong all-round package here. If the on-paper performance and desirable body style aren’t enough to have you put a deposit down, the quality feel to the cabin should seal the deal.

Call me a snob though, I couldn’t stop looking at the Kia badge on the steering wheel and wishing for something different. It’s the same badge that stares me in the face when I’m piloting a Kia Rio, Cerato or Carnival, but the Stinger feels like it needs something, you know, a bit more special.

2018 Kia Stinger Review

Stick a “Stinger” or “GT’ badge on that steering wheel centre and I bet the appeal would increase manyfold. Hey, Hyundai dropped its run-of-the-mill “H” badge for its Genesis…

There are some classy touches in the Stinger though. Kia says it features “Aeronautically-inspired spoked circular vents,” that Audi and Mercedes shoppers will identify with, while GT buyers score “deeply-contoured seats in ultra-soft Nappa leather,” using language BMW loyalists will understand.

And let’s not shy away from the sporty reminders. “The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles,” Kia says. After all, red equals racy.

GT and GT-Line buyers can no-cost option red leather trim (again, think racy), while GT buyers score a colour TFT screen between the gauges relaying your performance data. You know, cornering G-forces and lap times should you fancy substituting Phillip Island for the Nurburgring (no bad plan, that).

A Great Car Certainly, But Is It Enough In A Struggling Segment?

The sub-$70,000 large car segment – occupied by your Holden Commodores, Ford Falcons and Toyota Aurions – has been haemorrhaging sales for years now. In 2017 so far this segment is down 24%, on the back of a 10% fall in 2016 and 8% drop in 2015.

So the big question. Is the Kia Stinger the right car at the wrong time, now that the Australian love affair with the larger car is massively on the wane?

Or maybe, just maybe, can this rear-drive performance Stinger at a tempting price inject new life into the segment, and make us fall in love with big cars all over again?

2018 Kia Stinger Review

Interest is such that it no doubt will in the short term. Only time will tell if the Stinger can sustain the mega interest it has generated so far. And who knows, it may just entice a few more players into the arena…


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About Author

Practical Motoring

The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.


  1. Yes it sounds like a great car ( I have got my order in) but can anyone explain why Kia Austratia have dropped the Heated Steering Wheel in Australia, it seems to be standard in nearly every other country. I have asked a Dealer and Kia Customer Service but I have not been able to get a straight answer. I currently have an Optima GT with a heated steering wheel which i really appreciate on cold mornings.

  2. Huge difference in official international pricing when compared to Aussie pricing for the 2.0L GT. For the top of the line models:

    GT 2.0 GT 3.3

    AUD $55,590 $59,990

    USD $37,895 $50,395

    NZD $59,990 $69,990

  3. Love the Stinger based upon specs I’ve seen so far. One BIG issue. How much headroom for the driver? I will have to sit in one to check this. Hope its OK.

  4. Azmodan, Picking up on your post:

    270kW 510Nm 1780kg 0-100 4.9s. 304kW 570Nm ~1780kg 0-100 5.0s. Which of these is BS

    A few thoughts mate. Turbos are known to produce bucket loads of low and mid range torque and that’s a big help when it comes to 0-100kmh times. The 570Nm of the SSV is likely to be a torque peak (4400rpm) whereas the 510Nm of the Kia is likely to be a torque table that might range from 1500 rpm to 4500rpm.
    The Kia has an 8 speed auto and that no doubt helps. The auto in the SSV makes that car slower than the manual SSV. The auto XR6T is quicker than the manual. The 8 speed auto in the Kia could be something special in that it saves time with quickish gear changes. I kept a copy of an article that compared a NON TURBO XR6 to an XY GTHO. They ran the SAME 0-400m times. Both on in 14.8 secs. The ZF 6 speed auto made the difference. The toploader in the GHTO slowed its times down heaps. In gear acceleration showed th4e true power of the GTHO vs the NA XR6. In gear 80-120kmh acceleration of the Stinger will no doubt be brilliant. It almost always is with turbo cars.

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