Words by Lee McKenzie McKinnon – Exterior Photos by Aaron Smith
In Australia the choice of a performance rear wheel drive car with a reasonable price tag is few and far between. Well that all changed when the Kia launched the Stinger which hit our shores in October 2017.
I was handed the keys to the entry level Stinger which is the 200S 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo with the 8-speed automatic transmission.
Now I know what you’re all thinking; why would I want a four cylinder sports car? Well the answer is in the Stinger itself. It is surprising what this engine and car can do. But let’s back it up a bit and start from the outside.
The Stinger was brought to life by Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia Motors Europe.
Quoting the Kia press release, the Stinger is germinated from a seed of desire planted by the classic Gran Turismo cars of the sixties and seventies and is set to bloom on Australian roads. They sure got that right.
The Stinger is a fastback sports sedan that for once looks really close to the design concepts I saw back in 2011. It is sleek and long at 4830mm, making it longer and wider (1870mm) than many sport sedans, and allowing for a spacious cabin and cargo area. It stands at only 1400mm from ground to roof which is low but surprising inside.
The front looks mean and ready for fast driving action while the rear will have people guessing what they are following. It has chrome in all of the right places, but it doesn’t take away the GT look one bit.
The lines flow and it has a presence of speed about it. It has strong, broad shoulders and the Stinger’s stance, proportion and visual balance are designed to lend the car an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than aggression and brutality.
Getting in is a lot easier than you would expect from a car that is so low and where you feel like you are sitting on the ground. The doors, both the front and rear, allow plenty of room for getting in and out without looking like a noob. There is even plenty of head room as the seats have all the moves you need to get in the ultimate driving position.
The dashboard’s centre console is split into two specific areas: the infotainment controls sit neatly below a large colour touchscreen, while the climate and ventilation controls sit beneath that. In front of the driver is a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a single instrument binnacle with a combination of analogue and digital instrumentation.
The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles and the screen between the gauges show the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.
Something a little different is the aeronautically-inspired circular vents that feature in the front and rear, while a strip of satin chrome encircles the cabin.
All variants are equipped with turbochargers and the Stinger offers an effortless gran turismo-style high-speed cruising and instant acceleration when called upon by. The four-cylinder engine provides high enough power and torque that works well with harder driving and the highway.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder ‘Theta II’ engine produces 182kW at 6200rpm. Its maximum torque output is 353Nm and is available from 1400-4000rpm.
The transmission offers adaptive shift and throttle programmes (as well as levels of steering assistance), which can be selected through the car’s electronic Drive Mode Select. When I was having a little be of fun I would use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to select the gears, however around town I would let the Stinger do the hard work itself.
As with every Kia made these days, safety is one of their highest priorities. When this model first landed here, it did not receive the 5-stars from ANCAP that Kia was hoping for. With the addition of a few bits and pieces, the current spec now has the tick of approval.
The Stinger is equipped as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), ensuring stability under braking and cornering by controlling the car’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) if it detects a loss of traction.
Other ADAS features include Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking and pedestrian recognition; Advanced Smart Cruise Control; Lane Keeping Assist System; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; 360 degree Camera View for low-speed manoeuvres; Blind Spot Detection; and High Beam Assist.
Car and Bike News Opinion
I have loved Kia from when they really began to hit the design and engineering marks in the mid to late 2000’s. From there, the company has really taken leaps and bounds, yet still have a bad name here.
The Stinger was one of the most highly anticipated cars last year and Kia really nailed it with the design and driveability of this model. This car handles and does it well. It is fast – maybe not as fast as the V6 – but for what you get as an overall package, the 200S 2.0L turbo is one wicked car.
It is a pleasure to drive day in day out and when you want to take it for a long drive it has your back. It also steps up to the plate when you want to use your right foot and throw it in the corners. Then you can just drive it back home like you never played.
The Kia Stinger 200S was voted winner of Australia’s Best Car – 2018 Large Car under $70,000, and it is not hard to see why. Get over the name, get into the car and give it a go. You will not be disappointed with the Stinger.
Price: $46,990 *
* Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price