When it introduced the Kia Stinger, the Korean automaker had its sights set squarely on competing against the big players in the performance sedan segment.
It has the looks and the Korean automaker certainly gave the Stinger plenty of features and power with its 3.3-litre engine.
For 2019, Kia is making another move in the game of chess automakers play with each other as in introduced a new variant of the Stinger, the 2.0 GT-Line AWD. It brings the same good looks and other attributes, but comes with a smaller engine and a lower starting price.
As tester, our Atomic Blue tester rang in at $42,080, significantly lower than some of its immediate competitors.
It has a long list of standard features like stop and start engine technology, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, 18-inch alloy wheels and a whole lot of LED lighting technology: headlights; daytime running lights; positioning lights and an LED light bar for taillights.
Inside, there are more LED lights, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless cellphone charging, UVO telematics as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
As the nameplate would indicate, this Stinger is powered by a 2.0-litre Turbo GDI 4-cylinder engine, which is rated at 255 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque. The other engine available in the Stinger family is a 3.3L GDI Twin-turbo V6.
The 2.0L engine is paired to a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.
A drive mode selector can make the Stinger as tame as a kitten or as wild a panther. The settings are Eco, Smart, Comfort (default), Sport and Custom.
The turbo engine is rated to return a combined fuel efficiency of 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres, but our week with it returned an average of 13.6 L/100 km in snowy conditions. That is a result that hurts anytime, but with the Stinger running on recommended premium fuel, it stings a little bit more – pun intended.
Thankfully, the Stinger has other redeeming quality, such as its good looks.
If Kia was trying to compete with high-end performance sedans, it definitely succeeded for looks.
It turned heads in every parking lot, and elicited reactions and interactions that generally ended the same way; with the interlocutor asking aloud: That’s a Kia?
As good as it looks from the front, its backside may be the best feature. With the sloping glass hatch, that LED light bar, quadruple exhausts and a wide stance, there’s a lot to like back there.
In silhouette, the Stinger has a shape that resembles a Porsche Panamera or Audi A7, with some nice chrome accents ahead of the front doors to give it an extra sporty look.
As attractive as the Atomic Blue exterior is, the black accent pieces – especially the side mirrors – enhance the look.
Inside, the Stinger is nicely appointed and laid out, and the materials are top notch.
The trio of circular air vents in the dash between the screen and control buttons is a nice feature, as are the piano black accent pieces in the center console area near the gear shifter.
Headroom is a little tight for taller passengers in the back seat thanks to that sloping roofline, but there’s a good amount of legroom.
The Stinger has a generous cargo area, and the back bench folds down to allow for more room if needed.
The infotainment system is a good one that is easy to understand and operate, with a responsive 7-inch screen. You can control the system through the screen or a series of buttons on the center stack.
Even with the base audio system when compared what is available on other Stinger trims, the nine speakers in the GT-Line do a fine job keeping you entertained behind the wheel.
Also entertaining is the overall drive of the Stinger 2.0, even in Comfort mode. It has plenty of jump, and the transmission does a good job keeping up, and adjusting to hard acceleration when trying to overtake on the highway.
Sport mode makes things a little more responsive – and fun – and this is where the sports car lover will really enjoy the Stinger.
Even with a smaller engine, the Stinger GT-Line is no slouch out on the open road.
And it rides well, with great handling and steering.
Kia has a long road ahead of it to convince sports car enthusiasts that they really do produce a car that not only works the part, but can keep up with the big guns.
But the Stinger 2.0 GT-Line, with its lower price point, might be one way the Korean automaker can attract buyers who will be able to get a taste of what they have to offer.
Spoiler alert: It’s not bad at all.
2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L GT-Line
Price as tested: $42,080.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre Turbo GDI 4-cylinder/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 255 horsepower/ 260 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Premium (60 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.7 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.6 L/100 km
Warranties: 5-years/100,000 km (basic)
Competitors: BMW 3-Series, Cadillac ATS, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class