Car Reviews

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

Finance from

$197.24per week^

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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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

2018 Kia Stinger 330Si Review

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.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety?
Practical Motoring Says: The Kia Stinger shows just how serious the brand is. This is a bargain-priced car (compared with premium competitors) that offers enough dynamic capability to keep up with more expensive rivals. It’s not a direct alternative for a Commodore SS but it offers the same sort of thing: a roomy interior for a family in a good-looking package that’s fun to drive. Despite one or two shortcomings, this really is a very impressive machine.

  • Ben Tate

    Thanks Isaac.

    Great that we’ve got the Stinger to add to our shortlist along with the BMW 140i the STI and the Mustang. It will be interesting to see how the G70 stacks up against the Stinger (looking for a way to tie this into ANCAP to match your crook pun ; -).

    Let me guess that Kia would LOVE customers to opt for the top of the range GT. Isn’t there somebody in Kia who’s tumbled the likelihood that an engine tweak could be a major drawcard? If Kia could find another 18 kw for the GT it’d crack 300 kws.

    Most reviews mutter about the lethargic auto gearbox. Kia must be reading reviews and reports. Let’s hope they intro a running change sooner than later.

    The front seats look like they’re a bit flattish. If it’s not a tropical delusion a bit more bucket would be nice. And the touch screen looks a bit add-on and tombstoney to me.

    But I’m just happy to have the Kia as a viable option. The local Auto Gearbox Specialist knows how to tweak a Traumatic gearbox but do they know anything about these new 8 speed boxes?
    Maybe not? So if there’s one thing I hope Kia addresses it’s the auto shift pattern to make it mire sporty.

    • McF1

      Looking forward to details and pricing of the Genesis G70 V6TT.

  • McF1

    Great review.

    Isaac, what was your thought regarding the Ceramic Gray colour?
    I saw a gray Stinger GT inside a Kia showroom. I felt uncertain about the colour. Just wondering how it looked on the road, away from the showroom? At times some colors look better away from the showroom and visa-versa. I had also sat inside it. It had the red interior. Looked impressive.

    If one is able to find an additional $4,000 to purchase the GT, it is one of the best deals going in my opinion;
    – Powered sunroof (slide & tilt).
    – Harman Kardon 15 Speaker Premium Sound System.
    – 360° Camera View.
    – Colour Head Up Display with Digital Speedometer.
    – 7’’ Colour TFT-LCD Supervision instrument cluster.
    – Black Sports Nappa Leather appointed trim and Red trim depending on exterior colour.
    – Ventilated & heated front seats.
    – LED headlights with auto levelling.
    – Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) and High Beam Assist (HBA).
    – Driver`s seat lumbar support, Bolster adjuster, & thigh extender (Powered).
    – 8-way power front passenger’s seat & lumbar support, driver’s seat with 2 seating position memory, & easy access function.
    – Smart trunk (auto release).
    – Alloy door scuff panels and alloy sports pedals.
    And as mentioned in the article;
    – Dynamic Stability Damping Control.
    – Blind Spot Detection.
    – Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
    – Flat-bottom perforated leather sports steering wheel.
    – And other.

  • Theo

    Top 3 reasons Stinger (330s/si) is awesome:
    1:passive suspension / ride balance is near perfect, you want the rear end to feel like it will get loose so you can drive it on throttle response

    I have driven a 330s recently and switched off all stability/traction control and it reminded me of the 1998 to 2001 era AU Falcon with IRS, you can throw it into a sweeping bend and use the throttle to control both under-steer and over-steer, sure its not the fastest way though the bend but its fun, get the balance right and you can drift it easily however there is a catch, roll-over mitigation will force the stability control to kick in and bring it back if you plant it too hard to get on boost too fast, RWD with massive torque = awesome fun.

    2: classy looks in and out
    still images and even 4K video does not do it enough justice, out on the roads among other vehicles in its natural environment it looks awesome like nothing else on the road.

    3: It’s a great “take over” vehicle after years of Falcon XR6 Turbo/Turbo Sprint and on the other side the SS V8.

    Why you will not want it (sorry KIA but has to be said)

    1: If you like numb steering and break feel you will fee right at home, seriously there is no steering feel at all, its the electric steering syndrome, just awful numb and way to light steering and break feel is like you pressing on hard wood floor.

    2: its very tight inside, I’m 6″2 and 120kg and I just fit in the backseat region, I would hate to be a rear seat passenger for more than a 2 hour period, even at the front yes the seating position is fine but again it is very tight in that cabin, definitely a 4 seater only.

    3: awful in-house torque converter transmission, why bother to put it in sport mode and use paddle shifters when a: the transmission will shift anyway and b: it’s super slow, seriously you plant it and it hits redline and up-shifts which is somewhat fine for 1st to 2nd but from 3rd to 4th to 5th it does the same thing, you can downshift but it will up-shift right at the point you don’t want it too, I don’t get it, it’s like the software shift points are trying to protect it because it can’t handle torque during the torque curve.

    So having said all that, the KIA Stinger is the successor to the Falcon XR6 Turbo and SS v8, take one for a drive and see and feel yourself why this is really that good, I would love for KIA to fix the numb no feel steering, brake feel and transmission (which I think is software based) hopefully KIA takes on board all the suggestions, if not, well you know what can you do? it’s not like the Insignia VXR is an alternative to buy and Ford don’t have anything remotely near it either, so for a 1st up effort its very good.

    • You can see from Paul’s comment above that it seems that quite a few of my criticisms and yours too have been corrected. And you’re right, the Stinger is an excellent machine; I think this might be a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ if you know what I mean. I’m just putting too much pressure on the thing. Cheers Isaac.

      • Theo

        I don’t know as I have yet to drive a revised (I assume firmware updated) version, my main point I made is steering and break feel, it’s not there which is a shame, yes its direct steering but if you cant feel what the road surface is like then trying to get that sweeping bend just right is near impossible which results in under-steer and ESP kicks in and drags you back (annoying), sure its safe but you are not buying this type of vehicle for that factor, about the only thing an owner can do is to lower tyre pressure on the front wheels to make the steering heavier but at least you will get some type of feel*. No automotive company has yet to get electric steering feel like hydraulic steering,, yes its more economical and there is one less pump on the engine but I would give that up just to feel what the road surface is like, same applies to the brakes, powerful? yes, progressive? no, its more regressive.

        * Note: only do that if you feel comfortable doing so

  • Brian Howard

    Thanks of the great review Isaac. I’ve one of the last Sprint XR6’s so very interested in the Stinger. If Ford hadn’t given us this Sprint as a final send-off then Stinger could have been worth waiting for. I know they are quite different in character but 4 doors, rear drive and turbo ‘Hand Of God’ boost and it would have done me.

    • Theo

      Brian I am in the same spot as you, I purchased a XR6 Turbo Sprint and sure the interior is old and SYNC2 is meh at best but one again as a buyer you not buying for the interior which is subjective, engine wise? awesome, transmission? its a ZF, does not get better than that for torque converter autos, suspension? yep, better then FPV F6 because they actually chose right tyres this time to develop the front and rear suspension.

      If there was no Turbo Sprint then the Stinger in 330s form would be the in the garage right now and being used as a daily driver over the Turbo Sprint.

      • Brian Howard

        Yep agree with that Theo. A funny thing – the interior, to me, was ‘new’ and a breath of fresh air and I quite like it. I came out of a wonderful WM Caprice V8 I bought new in 2007, a very underrated car. Very well built and had a great solid feel. 0-100kph in 6.5secs, football field for a rear seat, GREAT family car so what wasn’t to love. I loved it. I’d have kept it but the last collectable Super-Barra came along and I had to have one. The interior (dash) of the Caprice was ordinary. The Sprint actually leap-frogged it a lot with Sync 2 which I also like a lot. 8,000ks on her now and not a rattle or squeak. Amazing car. Funny, so many things come down to perceptions and what we’ve been exposed to before. I feel the Sprint quite modern inside but I know the common perceptions that it is old. The seat, widely criticised by press and punters alike, is absolutely perfect for me at only 5′ 6′ (167cm) and reach to the steering wheel is perfect. Go figure. I’m happy and that’s where the rubber hits the road. We’d all go crazy if we acted on other people’s measure of what is right or wrong in choosing a car.
        The Stinger is a game changer for KIA and I think, like the Japanese in the 1970’s, they are on the cusp of greatness. If future cars from them are at least as good as Stinger then they’ve a great future. Stinger’s future looks VERY rosy too . . . standard will be the better sounding exhaust, more boost and a tidy up of some less than best styling cues (rear lights wrap-around, front grill detail and sharper suspension). It is all public record as the ex-BMW guy who created Stinger has said these are all high probability for subsequent updates. Just imagine Stinger with all those improvements (esp the 300kw++ motor!). Fun times ahead. You know, even though Sprinty is irreplaceable in the event of theft or a write-off, it is good to know such a thing as Stinger is waiting in the wings for enthusiasts when and if needed!

        • Theo

          It’s a shame that Ford Australia could not at the very least have a different design steering wheel, the issue was not design but safety, it would need to be re-crash tested so that ruled it out from being done, SYNC2 was an easy adoption as the centre stack already had an 8″ touch screen device, the seats are at best a compromise due to seating position which has been a constant issue since AU Falcon era, that being said the seat itself does have a tilt function & the steering has reach & height so it’s possible to get into a good position as a driver probably to around 90% comfortable, however all that is forgiven since Ford Australia were severely limited to what they could actually do & what they did do was fine in terms of making it look as different as they could over previous FG interior.

          Hyundai & KIA have a new 3.5L V6 engine which will be replacing the current 3.3L V6, but at them moment it’s not at the turbo/twin turbo stage of development so they are using the (very) old 3.3L V6 twin turbo which is at it’s near final development life, sure they can give it more boost (psi) to crack 300kW+ at the flywheel but that also means other issues like not having peak torque from 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm also the fuel consumption & CO/2 levels will be higher & manufacturers have to worry about those things at the same time as performance numbers these days, hey it would be awesome if KIA brought out the Stinger GT-R Line using the (Hyundai made) 5.0L Tau V8 engine with manual and also throw in AWD for good measure…

        • Amen, to that.

  • Theo

    So once again my reply to an article at this website has vanished into the internet ether … So what is the point again of asking epole to reply to articles and then deleting them?

    This site was once a great resource and had very good reviewers but sadly something had gone wrong with the way they treat there readers.

    • Hi Theo, you might be thinking of another site? I see all the comments made on articles and I’m sorry but I haven’t see one from you… and the only comment I’ve ever deleted from Practical Motoring was one from a troll that was derogatory. What did you want to say? Thanks Isaac

    • My apologies Theo, but for some reason your original comment was sitting in the Spam folder. It has been approved now. – Isaac

  • Brian Howard

    Yep, that’s another thing I like and respect about what we are seeing from KIA now – fast responsiveness to constructive criticism. Holden and Ford could have leaned something from that as could many other makers. This may be a big part of their climb to the upper echelons of car makers world wide. Who’d have thunk?! Watch out Merc!

    • Both Kia and Hyundai…and other brands to some extent too, are listening carefully to both customers and media. And that’s great. Others still think they know better than everyone else, including their customers.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.