Our independent 2021 Kia Stinger GT review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.

They say that the South Korean car makers are at a similar stage to when the Japanese car makers went from being thought of as cheap and cheerful to some of the world’s most reputable and successful auto behemoths. It’s certainly cars like the Kia Stinger that certify that feeling.

Although the Stinger is no newcomer on the scene, this MY21 update certainly feels fresher, more contemporary, and fundamentally improved. The twin-turbo V6 engine in this Stinger GT is beefier, producing a mightier output and endowed with a slightly more boisterous exhaust note. It’s those touches that elevate the Stinger as an alternative to traditional muscle cars and performance saloons. But unlike, say, the Ford Mustang, Kia’s craftmanship and attention to detail oozes a stronger feeling of quality. There are no rattly, platsicy knobs and switches here. The air vents are tight and precise, and the buttons are more like the sort you’d find in something with a German badge. In fact, that begins to sum up the Stinger’s quality – it’s a staggeringly affordable sports car with pricing starting at $49,550 for the 200S (2.0T), but it reacts and feels more like a six-figure Audi A5/S5.


You can see this outside, too. At the rear and front, where there have been some updates for 2021, Kia has implanted an LED signature into the tail and headlights. At the back there are 10 LEDs inside the indicator cluster, which provides a premium, posh look, especially at night. You might even notice the glimpse of a motorsport flag here, which is the pattern used for the layout. The front headlights are equally as detailed and impressive, with dark background materials to help the daytime LEDs pop. And there’s even an LED taillight in the bootlid.


It’s all the small things that count to make big changes.

Below the bootlip is what many have been waiting for, with new large quad exhaust tips and a rear diffuser that accentuate the stance of the Stinger and the fact that there is a new performance exhaust.


Developed exclusively by Kia and fitted to all models with a V6 (the 330S and GT) the bi-modal exhaust uses a butterfly valve which opens and closes, producing a gnarlier exhaust sound in Sport driving mode, or a quitter tone in Comfort and Eco, which is great for early morning starts when you don’t want to annoy the neighbours.


Output form the Lambda 3.3-litre T-GDi twin-turbo V6 engine has increased too. It now produces 274kW, up 2kW, and 510Nm. It attaches to an eight-speed automatic, and it has plenty of boogie.


When you plant your foot in the Stinger there’s instant zest from the V6 turbo mill and with its rear-wheel drive layout, you can have a lot of fun. For those doing track days or the like, traction control and electronic stability control can be switched off, and it will become an absolute feral on wet roads, though the precise and quick steering means drifts and sideways action are part of the Stinger’s tricks. And most of this ‘zest’ is just in the normal driving mode: flick the drive mode dial to the right for Sport mode and the driving experience becomes very focused: the seat bolsters tighten around you and the adaptive dampers firm, though they allow for enough supple response on Australian roads to keep the rear tyres tractable over bumps.


Mid-corner bump is well controlled and the car remains settled when pushing on, with a dab of the throttle enough to help pivot the rear around. It’s a seriously quick car and takes you by surprise how capable it is.


In Sport mode, the exhaust is a little meaner too, though settings can be customised. For example, you can keep the dampers in comfort mode, which are complaint despite the large 19-inch alloys underneath. Settings for steering, powertrain response and the lateral seat support can be changed as well.


Those large 19-inch alloys also feature thinner spokes, so you get a better look at the Brembo brakes underneath. Brembo brakes, which supply terrific braking force and pedal feel when you need it, are standard on all V6 Stinger models – the 200S, with its smaller 2.0-litre four-pot turbo does not have half of the good stuff on offer in this V6 Stinger, and the driving experience is that much better with the bent-six that it is worth upgrading.


Being a four-door saloon sports car, the Stinger is also good when cruising and is designed for carrying four adults with ease. The interior is particularly roomy, and the rear seat foot well is large. But beyond pragmatic design – like the large powered tailgate boot space – the interior is finished very nicely.


For MY21, we see a spanking new 10.25-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s wonderfully vibrant and looks good even in direct sunlight. On it, there are plenty of options, from accessing the ‘Sounds of Nature’ function to voice memos and in-built sat nav. But CarPlay and Auto look fantastic too, and it feels rather European.


Other improvements include new door panel trims with stitched leather and brushed metal elements working seamlessly together. Inside the metal cutouts are metal covers for the harman/kardon sound system offering great fidelity and punch to media. Music can be accessed via a connected smartphone, which includes the new multi-connection Bluetooth so passengers can connect an additional phone (e.g. the driver’s phone for calls, and the passenger’s phone for music).


Back up front, the driver gets to hold a new steering wheel with metal finishes and chrome bezels around the instrument cluster where there’s a 7.0-inch display. What’s great here is that when indicating, a camera view of either the left or right-side is shown – sure, you can check your mirrors, but this is a blind-spot beater.


Safety also includes AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection plus junction turning detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic follow assist, automatic steering assist with road edge detection, rear occupant alert, blind spot detection (on top of the camera system), exit warning for passing traffic, and a smart key that can remotely start the car.  We’ll add to all of this the edgeless rear-view mirror, which beyond showing a clear view out the back window, looks rather smart.


And as before, this all goes towards a full five-star ANCAP rating.

While it sounds that the Stinger is something more of a European sports saloon from Korea than just a value-packed offering in the segment, it’s even more than that. The design is clearly a striking departure from anything it competes against, and Kia is investing into all facets of its craftsmanship – the drivetrain, the small touches to fit and finish inside and also on the safety front. It’s a shot squarely at all the muscle car competitors – from the Ford Mustang to the Subaru WRX – and it’s hitting the mark.



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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. Love mine, Aussies are missing out on one of the greatest cars still engineered for Australia. Sure its not the V8 i’m used to but its a real drivers car and still infinitely practical day to day. This car just proves that people pay 6 figures just for a brand they can throw in other peoples faces. Maybe i just like saying i drive a kia. Let them wonder what kind of car just got them under brakes into a switchback and left them for dead out the other side.

    1. Im with you on this Gary. Im never embarrassed to say i drive a 2020 Kia Stinger. It gutted me to sell my VF Commodore which looked excellent but the looks and the questions i get asked all the time about my Stinger shocks people when i tell them in glowing terms all about it and what we get as standard equipment. As far as im concerned the Stinger is the greatest car ive ever owned.

    2. But surely it makes more sense to pay more money, get less performance, less stability, and get a big heavy SUV? I mean, everyone in the street has one, so I need to put my brain aside, and make sure I show everyone I’m a mindless sheeple too.

  2. I traded my 2008 FG XR6T on a 2019 330S. No rollover noise or transmission backlash in the Stinger.

    Kia. I guess you’re focusing your marketing on people who DO NOT already own a Stinger. There’s no way I’d trade up to a new 2021 Stinger for another 2kw! Crank Stinger power up to 300kw and you might see existing Stinger drivers trading up for the new model. 😉

  3. KIA! If you’re listening. Don’t bother with the suggested 3.5L upgrade. It looks like it’s only 128cc bigger than the 3.3L engine.

    Do Stinger fans a favour. Jump to a 3.8L TT Lambda engine for the Stinger. 300+ kw will do.

    Ben Tate.

    PS. I see a Lambda engine was race prepped for Pikes Peak.

  4. Ooops sorry. 3rd comment.
    Two things I don’t like on the V6 engine:

    1. Direct Injection without Port Injection. I guess that adds $100-$150 to every service that requires valve cleaning? What will Kia say if a customer fits an aftermarket oil catch can to reduce soot buildup on intake valves? Would that affect the warranty?

    2. No hydraulic valve lifters. This means the solid valve lifters have to be adjusted at services? Sounds like a time consuming task. How often? Every 100,000 kms? For me, thats every 12 years so it’s a problem for the next owner.

    Ben Tate.

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