2018 Kia Stinger GT : Car of the Year

Kia Stinger Gunaxin Car of Year Header 560x308One might look at the color of that Kia Stinger when compared to our Gunaxin logo and think that is all it took to win the prestigious designation as Gunaxin’s 2018 Car of the Year, but they’d be wrong. Mostly. The fact is that gorgeous orange isn’t even offered out of the factory (the image above is a custom SEMA build) and color is only 50% of our judging criteria. That’s a joke. In truth, we’re serious automotive journalists influencers lovers here at Gunaxin, and there is much more to love in the 2018 Kia Stinger GT than just the color palette. See for yourself in the video below…

Kia has been building a reputation for strong quality and design over the past decade, and smart buyers have been noticing. With the introduction of the Stinger to the lineup, Kia is now associating a third element to their brand; performance. We’ve been tracking this vehicle since its introduction at the 2017 NAIAS, and have been looking forward to driving it ever since. When we finally had the chance to get behind the wheel late last year, it definitely delivered on the hype. Below we present eight reasons why the Kia Stinger GT has been declared Gunaxin’s 2018 Car of the Year.

1) The Kia Stinger can Autocross!

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At the National Press Introduction in California, Kia took us to Walley World (Six Flags Magic Mountain) which was unfortunately closed. So they setup their own roller coaster autocross course in the parking lot for us to drive the new 2018 Kia Stinger GT versus some higher priced luxury competitors. This was a great place for us to test out Kia’s first continuously damping electronically controlled suspension (Dynamic Stability Damping Control) by putting the vehicle into Sport mode. We also ran laps in both RWD and AWD Stingers, and for maximum fun we turned off the traction and stability control. Unfortunately we didn’t learn about launch mode until later that evening. Take a ride with us behind the wheel of the 365-hp twin-turbo V6 Stinger GT as it handles the autocross course like a champ in our video below:

Autocross is essentially just a small track, and the Stinger’s performance in such a test is no happy accident. It comes from smart people putting in the work to develop a groundbreaking vehicle for the brand. Albert Biermann joined Kia in late 2014 as the head of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development. His previous role was as the Vice President Engineering at BMW M Automobiles, where he was responsible for dynamics of those acclaimed road and race cars. With Biermann at the helm, Kia’s talented group of engineers perfected the Stinger on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

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With 73 corners, nearly 1,000 feet of elevation and 17 percent gradients, the “Green Hell” can chew up and spit out a car of lesser mettle in just one lap. Kia’s engineers put every development Stinger through a minimum of 480 laps (equivalent to 6,214 miles) of high ­stress driving around the Nordschleife for quality, reliability and durability testing. The constant combination of hard acceleration, rapid deceleration, heavy cornering, changing surfaces and camber offers an unrivaled test of dynamic prowess and the distance covered during the Stinger’s development resulted in nearly 100,000 miles of on­ road testing.

2) The Kia Stinger is Sexy!

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While Albert Biermann focused on the performance, Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer was tasked with turning the bold GT4 Stinger concept into reality in his Frankfurt design studio. The resulting vehicle is sexy and dynamic, with a strong athletic stance, and muscular real-wheel drive proportions. The 5-door sportback design is right on trend, and looks sharp from nearly every angle.

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The Stinger has obvious familial similarities, especially with the popular Optima. The Kia signature tiger-nose grille is proudly on display between complex LED headlamps. We also can’t help but notice the large air intakes in the same location where they controversially replaced popular fog lamps on the most recent Optimas. Our only complaint about the design is the hood vents, which may look cool, but they’re purely for show. We wish they had found some way to at least make them functional, even if they aren’t really necessary for cooling.

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Unfortunately the orange highlighted at the top of this feature is not an available color, but we find this yellow a strong substitute. While it was not originally intended for the American market, we understand it received such great buzz (pun intended) that a limited supply has been ordered for the States. The yellow joins an already strong color selection which also includes Red, Blue, Grey, Silver, Black and White. You can see two more colors and some additional angles of the Kia Stinger in our Instagram photos below from our test-drive in California.

3) The Kia Stinger can Drift!

What do you do with a 365 horsepower rear-wheel drive sports sedan? Drift it!

Kia made quite the splash at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas with their Stinger Drift Experience demonstration in the parking lot. Professional drivers performed hourly shows for three days straight, and we understand tires were the only part that needed replacing. Racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi was one of many to enjoy a turn sitting right seat, “I am so happy to see Kia taking on performance in such a huge way,” said Fittipaldi as he stepped from the Stinger GT, a large smile on his face.  “I love its looks and, more importantly, the way it drives.”

4) The Kia Stinger is Loaded!

2018 Kia Stinger GT Interior 1 560x373The Kia Stinger doesn’t just perform, it is loaded with advanced technology and creature comforts as well. The all-new dashboard design visually widens the vehicle by creating a strong horizontal plane and the center mounted circular vents offer a hint of retro appeal We loved the thick hand-stitched leather wrapped “D” shaped steering wheel with paddle shifters, as it really matches the character of the vehicle. All Stingers come standard with a leather-appointed interior, with ultra-soft Nappa leather available for the seats. Additionally you can see dual climate zones, seat adjustments, seat memory, power outlets, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, steering wheel controls, navigation, sunroof, and other features highlighted in the photographs below:

The Stinger features an impressive infotainment package that includes a 7″ touchscreen, UVO, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Additionally, an available premium Harman/Kardon audio system includes 15 speakers powered by an external 720 watts amplifier. The system is highlighted by under-seat mounted subwoofers and Clari-fi, a patented music restoration technology.

Available advanced safety technologies include Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW), and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW).

5) The Kia Stinger is Fast!

2018 Kia Stinger GT Performance 2 560x373The 2018 Kia Stinger GT features a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which produces 365 horsepower and offers 376 lb.-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and has a governed top speed of 167 mph. The Stinger utilizes a lightning quick in­-house designed second­-generation eight­-speed rear-­drive automatic transmission. It is also available with a limited slip differential and All-Wheel Drive with a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system. The Stinger is fast, really fast. So fast that they felt comfortable comparing it to a Porsche Panamera and a BMW 640i in the video below.

All that speed requires some professional grade products in the tires and brakes to maintain traction and stop on-demand. The Kia Stinger GT features staggered ultra-high performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires that have been specifically engineered and tuned for the Stinger. Stopping power is provided from high-performance Brembo disc brakes featuring all-aluminum quad-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers. In our time driving the Stinger, we noticed tons of grip and no brake fade, even after repeated runs on the autocross course.

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6) The Kia Stinger is Practical!

2018 Kia Stinger GT 8 560x373Creating a true gran turismo was the mantra during Stinger development, as explained by chief designer, Gregory Guillaume:

“A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long­-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-­edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace,”

The goal of a gran turismo is to transport two couples and their luggage to a far-away destination quickly, with style. The Kia Stinger GT is about more than just sleek sexy lines, and 0-60 times, it also has to be practical.

The seating is comfortable for four adults, with plenty of amenities (cup holders, outlets, ventilation) available for all. The long wheelbase allows for generous front and rear leg room, and a low seating position provides ample head room. We rode in the back seat while SaabKyle04 recorded his driving footage, and found it quite spacious. The sportback (hatchback) design offer substantial cargo room, at 23.3 cubic feet. The power rear lift-gate also has Smart Trunk capability. When you’re not transporting additional passengers, the rear seats also fold down for additional cargo space.

7) The Kia Stinger can Reverse Too!

2018 Kia Stinger GT 1 560x305As seen during the Super Bowl, the Stinger can also go fast in reverse! Turn back the clock with Steven Tyler, and feel something again with the Kia Stinger…

Really cool cars deserve really cool advertising, and Kia knocked it out of the park with this spot, and frankly all of their recent commercials. Take this follow-on advertisement as another example…

8) The Kia Stinger is a Bargain!

2018 Kia Stinger GT 5 560x373The 2018 Kia Stinger GT is a true Gran Turismo, offering style, luxury, and performance all in one package. They’ve put the entire automotive industry on notice with this one very important vehicle, mainly because the Stinger GT starts at just $38,350 for the RWD model. Kia is targeting luxury performance competitors with the Stinger, and the numbers don’t lie, their vehicle is up to that challenge. Admittedly the base GT may not be as luxurious as some of its competitors, but premium options are available in addition to the GT1 and GT2 trim levels. If you’re looking for the most performance possible without breaking the bank, it’s going to be difficult to beat the Kia Stinger GT.

Conquering sales from European competitors appears to be the goal of the Kia Stinger, but there is some other low-hanging fruit that we think the Stinger is sure to pick as well. The Kia Optima has been a big winner for the brand over the past decade, and the Stinger is clearly the next step up the ladder for any existing happy Optima owners. The Stinger is everything people like about the Optima amplified to eleven. The entry-level price on a 2.0 liter I4 Turbo Stinger is $31,900, which is actually below the price of a fully loaded Optima.