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Kia Stinger GTS: all-wheel-drive, drift hero edition revealed in New York

Published: 17 April 2019

► New 2017 Kia Stinger fastback revealed
► Top-spec GT version packs 365bhp V6
► ‘Nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet’

Kia has revealed a new hotter version of its Stinger muscle car at the New York motor show. It’s limited to just 800 units but it uses a new all-wheel drive system, features carbonfibre bits and comes in a new colour, too. We’re hoping some of those options will make it to the standard GTS.

Carbonfibre good, more grip bad?

Don’t worry, the Stinger will still go through rear tyres – if you want it to, that is. The new all-wheel drive system can still divert power to the back wheels when needed, and unlike some similiar systems, it can go to 100% RWD, too. In Comfort mode, 60% of power goes to the rear, Sport brings it up to 80%, while Drift cranks it up to 100%. It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it?

New software for slip control and counter-steer detection means the the Stinger will make it easier to drift, too.


What else is new?

The carbonfibre parts extend to a grille outline, mirror caps and side vents – so don’t expect them to make a proper dent in the cars Kerb weight. There’s a new paint colour called Federation Orange, and the inside has a injection of Alcantara, too.

This Kia almost certainly isn't coming to the UK, but we're very interested in its new, trick all-wheel-drive-system.

Kia Stinger: what you need to know

Enthusiasts could be forgiven for not harbouring much interest in the machinations of Kia. For most, the brand’s best known for its seven-year warranties and lines of dependable, practical and affordable hatches and SUVs.

The launch of the new flagship Kia Stinger, however, may mark a turning point in the perception of the company. This aggressive-looking five-seat fastback, which is an evolution of the GT concept from 2011, is described as the ‘highest-performance production vehicle in Kia’s history.’

Looks pretty sharp. Does it still have a Kia price tag? 

Available in three trim levels with a choice of three engines – GT-Line, GT-Line S and GT-S, the Stinger comes with a choice of 2.0-litre T-GDi petrol with 244bhp or 2.2-litre CRDi diesel with 197bhp in the first two trim levels.

Prices kick off at £31,995 and it’s available to order now, with deliveries commencing on 1 January 2018. Go for the top-spec Stinger GT-S and it’ll set you back £40,495.

We've driven the Kia Stinger in pre-production form - click here for our first impressions

2017 Kia Stinger GT

The 2.0 T-GDI and 2.2 CRDi will likely be the big sellers, appealing to more everyday versions of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback.

For comparison, the BMW starts at just over £33k and the Audi starts from just under £33k. So there’s not much in it, but the Kia comes stacked with equipment that you’ll need to pay extra for in one of the German rivals.

Of far more interest is the GT-S, which comes exclusively with a 365bhp 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 petrol, which serves up 378lb/ft of torque from 1300-4500rpm.

Kia promises a 0-60mph time of just 4.7 seconds for this version, which is easily in BMW 440i territory, so the Stinger is taking on some seriously well-established and well-regarded competition in that respect. 

You’re going to tell me the Stinger’s front-wheel drive, now, aren’t you… 

Fear not – the Stinger will be offered with rear- or all-wheel drive, depending on market. Get a rear-drive Stinger and it’ll come with a limited-slip differential, too, ticking that all-important mental check box in many an enthusiast’s head.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

So far, Kia has confirmed that the four-cylinder Stinger will feature 18-inch alloys, while the GT will be fitted with staggered 19-inch wheels – 8J at the front, and 9J at the rear. The high-performance GT also gets big vented discs and Brembo calipers all round as standard.

What about the chassis?

Kia states that 55 percent of the Stinger’s monocoque is formed from high-strength steel, providing a stiff, strong platform that’s ideal both for handling and refinement. At the front you’ll find MacPherson struts, while out back there’s a five-link independent set-up.

An electrically adjustable damper system is fitted, which Kia calls Dynamic Stability Damping Control, and five driving modes – Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart – offer different levels of damping. These modes also alter the responses of the powertrain.

Steering is provided by an electrically driven rack-and-pinion set-up, which Kia claims provides extremely quick responses – the motor is mounted on the rack to help cut reaction times – while reducing column vibrations. As with the transmission, the steering assistances varies in each of the five drive modes.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

Cruicially, the Stinger’s been developed with the aid of former BMW M Performance specialist Albert Biermann. Biermann, who had been with BMW for over 30 years, joined Hyundai in April 2015 to lead the development of high-performance models.

Speaking about the Stinger, Biermann said: ‘I think, for the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event – because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It's a wholly different animal.’ 

Yes, that development included considerable testing at the Nurburgring as well. All well and good, provided the focus was on delivering a car that’s enjoyable to drive on the road – rather than on out-and-out lap times. Kia insists that the Stinger is an ‘authentic gran turismo’, however, so here’s hoping it’s not excessively stiff or sharp. 

What’s it like inside?

The Stinger features a low-slung cabin, ultra-soft Nappa leather sports seats and a mix of digital and analogue instrumentation. It’s a restrained, straightforward affair with some pleasing detailing.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

It’s claimed to be a spacious cabin, with lots of room in the front and rear – just as you’d hope, for a reputed GT car. A large rear hatch grants easy access to the Kia’s boot, bolstering practicality.

Any neat tech or features?

Kia has always scored well on the standard-fit kit front, and the Stinger is no exception to that trend. The Stinger’s standard equipment list so far includes a colour heads-up display, a wireless charging pad for smartphones, Bluetooth connectivity and high-end audio systems.

Buyers of the Stinger will get a seven-inch media system and a six-speaker set-up as standard. In the GT, however, you get a nine-speaker system with an external amp. There’s even an optional 720W Harman/Kardon audio system on offer, with 15 speakers and under-seat subwoofers.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

There’s a wide range of driver assistance and safety tech in the Stinger, as you might expect. Features include drowsiness detection, forward collision assistance, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. Reversing out of a space is made easier, too, thanks to a rear cross traffic alert that warns the driver if something, well, will cross the vehicle’s path.

So, is this a rival for the likes of a BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class?

The Stinger faces competition from a whole host of vehicles. To put it in perspective, Kia’s new fastback is 4.83m long and 1.87m wide. That’s about 20cm longer than a 3-series saloon, and 6cm wider. Kia also cites the likes of the Audi A4, Lexus IS and Mercedes CLS as contenders.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America, said: ‘Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and here in Detroit, that dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world.

‘From its GT concept-car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nurburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over.’

And yes, in case you were wondering, the Stinger will come with Kia’s seven-year warranty – which will be of great benefit for both the first owner and anyone looking to buy one second-hand.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

Kia Stinger facts and figures 

Stinger GT-Line/GT-Line S 2.0 T-GDI

  • Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
  • Power 255bhp @6200rpm
  • Torque 260lb ft @1400-4000rpm
  • Transmission 8-speed automatic
  • 0-60mph 5.8 secs
  • Top speed 149mph
  • MPG 35.8mpg
  • CO2 emissions 181g/km
  • Suspension MacPherson (front) / five-link (rear)
  • Steering Rack & pinion / electric motor
  • Brakes 12.6-inch ventilated discs (front) / 12.4-inch discs (rear)

Stinger GT-Line/GT-Line S 2.2 CRDi

  • Engine 2.2-litre turbodiesel
  • Power 197bhp
  • Torque 325lb ft
  • Transmission 8-speed automatic
  • 0-60mph 7.3 secs
  • Top speed 143mph
  • MPG 50.4mpg
  • CO2 emissions 147g/km
  • Suspension MacPherson (front) / five-link (rear)
  • Steering Rack & pinion / electric motor
  • Brakes 12.6-inch ventilated discs (front) / 12.4-inch discs (rear)

Stinger GT-S 3.3 T-GDi V6

  • Engine 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6
  • Power 365bhp @ 6000rpm
  • Torque 376lb ft @1300-4500rpm
  • Transmission 8-speed automatic
  • 0-60mph 4.7 secs
  • Top speed 168mph
  • MPG 28.5mpg
  • CO2 emissions 225g/km
  • Suspension MacPherson (front), five-link (rear)
  • Steering Rack & pinion / electric motor
  • Brakes 13.8-inch ventilated discs, Brembo 4-piston calipers (front) / 13.4-inch ventilated discs, Brembo 2-piston calipers (rear)
  • Wheel size 8.0Jx18 (front) / 9.0Jx19 (rear)
  • Tyre size P225/40R19 (front) / P255/35R19 (rear)

Read more Detroit motor show news here 

By CAR's road test team

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