Kia has scored a notable victory with the Kia Stinger, a high-performance sedan from a brand better known for affordable four-doors and SUVs.
The Stinger was the toast of the auto-show circuit in 2017. I first sampled the all-wheel-drive GT2 version of the car in California in early 2018. This $52,000 machine, with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 making a tasty 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of yummy torque, completely captivated me as I drove around the Bay Area.
Later, I enjoyed the same car in the New York/New Jersey area and was equally impressed. So was my colleague, Ben Zhang, who took his first crack at the Stinger.
We haven’t yet tested the base four-cylinder trim, priced at $32,000. But I just finished enjoying the rear-wheel-drive GT2, which clocked in at about $50,000. Full review coming later, but suffice it say that as much as I was ga-ga over the AWD Stinger, first-impressions aren’t everything; the more classically configured RWD GT2 is THE ONE. I just wanted to drive it, and drive it, and then drive it some more, and then have dreams about driving it.
I’m not usually this thorough taken by a car, but the Stinger combines style, value, performance, and versatility is such a brilliant way that all bets are off. Particularly when you consider that you can get the marvelous V6 in basic GT package for an astounding $38,350.
Consequently, I’ve been doing all manner of running comparisons in my head. For my money, while the Stinger is overtly taking on the entire luxury performance-sedan segment — Audi, Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW — the aim is squarely at BMW. Bimmers provide the reference driving dynamics that the Stinger is seeking to emulate.
As it happens, I’ve driven a bunch of Bimmers. Here’s how the Stinger stacks up against as many as I can think of.