2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review with price, performance, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Kia comes out swinging with a refined looking rear-drive twin-turbo V6 top scare premium performance cars.
2018 Kia Stinger 330Si
Price $55,990+ORC Warranty seven years, unlimited kilometres Safety Five Star ANCAP Engine 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol Power 272kW at 6000rpm Torque 510Nm at 1300-4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive rear-wheel Dimensions 4830mm (L) 1870mm (W) 1400mm (H) 2905mm (WB) Weight 1780kg Turning Circle 11.2m Spare Temporary Spare Boot Space 406-1114L Fuel Tank 60 Thirst 10.2L/100km
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THE KIA STINGER has had praise heaped on it by members of the press from all corners of the world and the Internet. Locally it’s been lauded as some sort of anti-dote to the SUV epidemic sweeping the country and indeed the world, but it’s so much more than that.
To simply say that it’s some sort of Claytons Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon because it’s got buckets of power and is rear drive is to damn it with faint praise. This is Kia’s BHAG, a brand building image busting car that sees the Korean car maker once and for all consign its cheap and cheerful image to the bin. At the same time, this thing is, by its European competitors, cheap and cheerful…compared with, say, an Audi S4, the Kia Stinger is a bang for your buck’s champion that makes a mockery of the pricing of the German competitors.
What is the Kia Stinger 330Si?
The second from the top Stinger 330Si gets just about everything you could ever need in a car, but if you can find the extra coin then I think the GT is worth the extra money. Our test Stinger 330Si lists from $55,990+ORC while the GT is priced from $59,990+ORC…The GT adds a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a GT Interface which includes a lap timer, suede interior trim, gloss black inserts, wireless phone charging and a USB outlet in the rear, it also adds adjustable dampers. But the braking and power are the same.
The Stinger was designed a French bloke by the name of Gregory Guillaume and he reckons he drew inspiration (pardon the sort-of pun) for the design of the Stinger from European GTs of the 1970s. “The Kia Stinger is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving,” Greg said.
There’s no doubting the Stinger has presence, it’s long and both wider and lower than its German competitors. To me, I like the look of the Stinger and even though it’s becoming a familiar-ish site on the road now, it still drew looks when I sidled down the main street of my home town.
What’s the interior like?
Kia has always built a nice looking and practical interior, benefitting hugely from the input, no doubt, of head crayon twirler, Peter Schreyer. Slide into the Stinger and there’s a decidedly European look and feel, almost glimpses of Audi, in the design and materials. Sure, some of the switch materials aren’t quite at the same standard as those from the German Three and are shared with other Kia product but the design and layout of the dash allows the Stinger to pull it off.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive with a good level of adjustment, allowing drivers of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable behind the wheel. The steering wheel too offers plenty of adjustment and vision out of the car is good and that’s despite the driving position being more low-slung than competitors in the segment (it’s mounted 45mm lower than the seats in the Kia Optima) – the slabby c-pillar is a little intrusive, but shoulder checking and good mirrors allows you to work around that.
The dashboard is dominated by the tablet-like 8.0-inch infotainment screen standing proud of the dashboard but not impacting on vision. The screen offers Apple and Andorid connectivity as well as native maps; it’s not a super feature rich system but with smartphone connectivity it doesn’t need to be, because all the things you’re comfortable using every day are mirrored. That said, the sat-nav is very feature rich with audible warnings for things like overtaking lanes, speed cameras and school zones which can be turned on or off relatively easily.
There are plenty of charging outlets in the front; the 330Si doesn’t get Qi wireless charging like the GT, and storage is good for both keys and wallets, cups and bottles.
In the back, the swooping roof line means that head room isn’t amazing for taller passengers (my hair was just shy of brushing the roof), but the long wheel base means there’s good legroom and the backs of the front seats are scalloped to give you more kneeroom too; toe wiggle room under the front seats is tight thanks to them being so low-slung.
There are two directional rear air vents at the back of the centre console and charging outlets for those in the back. The middle seat lacks the shape of the outboard seats and is more of a perch than a seat you’d want to travel in.
The 330Si makes do with a manual liftback but it’s light enough that my nine-year old could raise and lower it easily. There’s 406 litres of storage space in a long and wide but shallow boot. The floor is flat and hides a space saver spare wheel underneath. The rear seats are 60:40 split fold meaning you can expand the boot to 1114 litres if needed.
What’s it like on the road?
The Stinger 330Si, as the name suggests, runs the same 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 as the GT. This engine makes 272kW at 6000rpm and 510Nm of torque from 1300-4500rpm and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission funnelling its grunt to the road via the rear wheels. Via Launch Control (and I just don’t get these systems) you’ll be able to get to the legal limit (100km/h) in a brisk 4.9 seconds making this the fastest-accelerating Kia ever. There’s a thirst that comes with this grunt, though, and the Stinger sucks down a claimed combined 10.2L/100km. In my week, I managed to better that, returning 9.9L/100km.
My week late last year with the Stinger GT left me a little undecided about the lusty Kia and my latest week has me still in two minds about the thing, at least from a performance angle.
And that’s because I’d allowed myself to be swept up in the hype that both Kia and plenty of motoring writers created surrounding the launch of this thing. The Stinger isn’t a muscle car like the Mustang, nor is it a performance car like the old Commodore SS/Falcon GT…it’s an affordable GT and that means it’s geared at offering effortless long-distance cruising with enough dynamic ability that it isn’t boring when the road gets twisty.
And you’ve got to keep this theme in your head when driving the Stinger. See, around town the engine feels muscular but it’s not well served by the transmission which is a little lazy feeling at less than 80km/h, preferring to run to a high gear early and rest on the torque. This means, that you’ve got to give the throttle a decent shove to coax the transmission back down through the cogs and the get old girl to lift its skirt and break into a canter.
Do that, and once the revs climb through 2500rpm the engine note hardens up from its bass-filled drone the Stinger will reel in the horizon at an alarming rate. Once you’ve hit around 3500rpm the exhaust note begins to fade. It’s an odd one, there’s more noise at idle and when you’re creeping around town but beyond the start-up bark, the Stinger’s exhaust note isn’t overly pleasant and I think that’s a missed opportunity with this car.
The Stinger around town is fine but it doesn’t set the pulse racing (and maybe I’m expecting too much of it); it just feels like a large car. The low-slung seating position and the heavy steering take a little getting used to when dealing with the cut and thrust of in-town traffic, or when parking; fortunately, the camera (rear only – the 330Si misses out on a surround camera) is excellent with a nice wide-field of view and dynamic guidelines.
Out of town and onto the Practical Motoring road loop and the Stinger when let off the chain and cruising along on straights and gentle curves feels excellent. And, unlike the Stinger GT I tested, this 330Si with its non-adaptive dampers feels better when the corners get tighter than the Stinger GT which gets adaptive dampers.
The Stinger 330Si, at 1700-odd kilograms, isn’t light but the passively damped suspension does a better job of controlling the body though corners and across minor bumps. It’s still not an overly communicative car to steer on a twisting road; the steering is well-weighted but it’s just too feel-free, and not overly quick, for you to be totally comfortable with it.
And don’t bother with the paddle shifts because using them doesn’t ever lock out the ‘car’ or allow you take total control, meaning the thing will up-shift when it approaches the redline (whether you wanted it to or not) and even ignore downshifts requests. Just leave it in D for Drive and save yourself the frustration.
The standard suspension does a good job of filtering out bumps in the road, both big and small, and 95% of the time the Stinger has the speed and poise you want from a sporting sedan. There’s enough to keep ‘drivers’ happy away from town just so long as you accept that it isn’t perfect (or that it might not be quite what you expected it to be).
What about safety?
The Stinger gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating (the 200S and 330S only rated three stars as they miss out on active safety features) as well as all the usual suspects where passive safety is concerned, including airbags for the driver and front passenger as well as curtains reaching into the back. It also has an active bonnet which is something you normally only get on more expensive vehicles. Active safety features include traction and stability controls, hill start assist, lane keeping assist and autonomous emergency braking. The 330Si misses out on blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – GT only.
So, what do we think?
The Stinger isn’t going to tear up a race track but that was never Kia’s intention for it. Rather it’s aimed at offering a quality interior with room for a family and a drive experience that’s geared towards comfort and capability.