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2018 Kia Stinger GTS Long-Term Review

Our intrepid European correspondent, Paul Horrell, has his hands on a 2018 Kia Stinger GTS and will be reporting on its ability to handle daily duties, long-distance touring and more.

What are we testing? The 2018 Kia Stinger GTS (European spec)

Who’s running it? Paul Horrell (London-based updates)

Why are we testing it? To find out how a Korean performance saloon goes down in the home of European performance saloons.

What does it needs to do? Here in London England, the roads are clogged with premium German metal, with a smattering of Jags and Alfa Giuliettas too. Can a Kia hold its head up – both in driver appeal on quick European roads, and in the public vote? Oh and how much of a pain in the wallet is a 3.3-litre V6 car weighing 1855kg, in the land of the AUS$2.70 litre of unleaded.

2018 Kia Stinger GTS Specifications

Price $59,990+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 exc mirrors) 1400mm (H) 2905mm (WB) Weight 1855kg Turning Circle 11.2m Spare Temporary Spare Boot Space 406-1114L Fuel Tank 60L Thirst 10.2L/100km

Quite soon after the Stinger arrived at my place, I did the following journey. Depart Strasbourg in Eastern France at 3pm. Drive across a good trail of awesome empty hillside roads, then a bit of more gentle countryside running before picking up the autoroute and cruising westward at a true 135km/h (indicated 145) back to the English channel. That’s 640km. There I got a late-night ferry (two hours) then drove the 130km to my place in central London for bedtime.

I’d call that grand touring, wouldn’t you? Kia calls the Stinger GTS a grand tourer rather than a balls-out sports saloon. And after that drive I can see what they’re on about.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll return to that drive in an update soon, but first let’s cue-up this series of running reports.

Yes I live in the UK. So you’d be entitled to question the relevance of this test. But thing is, apart from the sustained higher speeds of our motorways, the UK’s urban and suburban conditions are little different from yours. And we’ve just finished a summer of record-breaking heat, although nothing you guys would call anything other than agreeably warm.

One more thing. We Poms steer from the right-hand seat in the car. Which means the ergonomics for us are the same as they are for you.

Plus and in the case of the Stinger we’re also denied the AWD option they get in lefty countries. The front diff would go where the steering rack sits on RHD cars, so you can’t have RHD and AWD. That’s fine really, as the AWD car is about 50kg heavier, and less fun to drive on a dry road, as I discovered on my first test.

But now the British winter is approaching and it’s time to talk about the weather as we English always do (see, this is my second mention already). It’ll soon be getting cold and wet and greasy, which will properly test the traction-control system of this powerful RWD car.

Anyway, why would you consider a Stinger? Same reasons you’d want and Audi S5 or high-power BMW 4-series Gran Coupe: it’s fun, good-looking and surprisingly practical. The Kia is much better equipped for the price through. The one I’m driving has loads of equipment because we in the UK get the V6 Stinger only in top-spec.

That means adaptive dampers, radar cruise, head-up display, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and a really useful set of all-round parking cameras. The front seats are electrically adjustable – including the side bolsters, and they’re heated and vented. The rear ones are heated too, and so’s the steering wheel.

So much for the rational sense of value. What matters more in this uncommon five-door-coupe sphere is the sense of occasion, and the style. Here the Stinger knocks it out of the park. Seen on a screen, or in isolation as I first saw it in a design studio back in mid-2017, it’s a looker. But out on the street, alongside everyone else’s saloon or hatch, it’s so wide and long and low and sleek it just smacks me in the eyes every time I walk up to it.

I drive all sorts of cars for work, and few people ever comment. It’s different with the Stinger. Complete strangers, and lots of them, have been coming up to me and saying how much they love it.

Most of the comments are along the lines of “That looks amazing… for a Kia,” but I reckon the ‘for a Kia’ part doesn’t undermine the ‘that looks amazing’ part. Premium German cars are fairly common around central London. And they’re mostly not this fab looking. The Brits love an underdog, and Kia making a car like this seems to be a cause for celebration.

So I’m hoping the looks don’t go stale on me in the next six months. Stay tuned as we explore the Stinger as a fun car, a long-distance car, a city car, a family car, a summer car and a winter car.

One thing’s for sure: I’m not expecting it to be an economy car. The first couple of tankfuls have worked out about 12l/100km.


Paul Horrell

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.