It’s no small task for a carmaker to insert itself successfully into an already well-established segment, but, as Tom Hanks reminded us in the baseball classic A League of Their Own, some things are worth doing because they are hard. Maybe Kia was riding a wave of Jimmy Dugan inspiration when it decided to try its hand at the entry-luxury segment, or maybe the sports sedan was just next on the corporate list of new ways to make money. Either way, the Stinger was born, and we’re the happier for it. With its racy lines, a choice of a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a powerhouse twin-turbo V-6 coupled to either rear- or all-wheel drive, the Stinger checks several important boxes for a car in this segment. While this self-professed BMW 3-series fighter may lack the refinement and composure near its handling limits that make certain other cars in the entry-luxury class so excellent, it does offer plenty of power, serious quickness, and an unusual but entirely pleasing exterior design—and all at a hugely attractive price. It’s a social climber in the best possible sense.
What’s New for 2018?
Absolutely everything. The Stinger set wheel to pavement for the first time with the 2018 model year, so from the powertrains to the interior to the hatchback-sedan body style, it’s brand new.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
The Stinger’s entry-level four-cylinder model would represent a compelling mix of features and value for most drivers, but as enthusiasts, we’ll pin our fortunes to the Stinger GT. That model comes with the 365-hp twin-turbo V-6 and several premium features, including:
• Brembo brakes
• 19-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires
• Variable-ratio steering
The base GT comes in at $39,250. Stepping up to the GT1 trim adds a larger infotainment system with navigation, adaptive dampers, a 15-speaker audio system, and memory settings for the driver’s seat, among other features. That model costs $44,150. Adding all-wheel drive to any Stinger tacks on an extra $2200.
The Stinger has two available engines, both of which can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The entry-level 2.0-liter powertrain does an adequate job relative to its rivals, but the powerful twin-turbo V-6 delivers scintillating performance that gets our enthusiast blood pumping.
Base Stinger and Premium models feature a 255-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine. That power figure puts it right in line with the competition from Audi, BMW, and Lexus. On our first trip to the track, the entry-level Stinger hung with the competition, turning in a 6.1-second zero-to-60-mph time, which placed it squarely in the middle of this pack.