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2020 Kia Stinger GT Review: Budget Audi A7?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020


2020 Kia Stinger GT Limited in Snow White Pearl

MSRP as tested: $50,495 CAD

Specs: All-aluminum 3.3L twin-turbo V6 (365hp, 376 lb.-ft. torque), paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission



Kia: ‘The Power to Surprise’. And what a fitting motto this is for Kia’s Stinger GT. Despite hearing endless praise from owners and seeing the numerous awards the Stinger GT has already accumulated, we were still shocked at how well the Stinger could hold its own against far pricier rivals.


Driving Impressions:

With a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 generating 365 horsepower, the Stinger GT is certainly no slouch on paper, even compared to cars nearly double its price. But once you’re behind the wheel, it feels even FASTER than its numbers would suggest. Put your foot down and the torque hits you immediately like a wave, and doesn’t let up until well over 150km/h. What’s especially impressive is how much torque is available early on in low RPM and lower speeds, allowing you to shoot off rapidly at stoplights, or in everyday city traffic.

Seating position is low and sporty, with great visibility out front

Handling is just as impressive; the Stinger GT remains planted and controlled throughout corners. Steering is sharp and precise and is sure to pacify even the most hardcore of BMW fanboys. Pop the Stinger into its sportiest driving mode and the seat bolsters inflate to lock you into place, steering becomes even tighter and heavier, and throttle response quickens. Canadian models also come with AWD as standard, giving you confidence and traction during launches, cornering, or in the snow.


However, the Stinger GT does fall short compared to the competition when it comes to its lacklustre exhaust note and poor fuel economy. I averaged an abysmal 15L/100km during city driving, and the best I could achieve was 11L/100km during a day of conservative mixed city and highway driving, but as a performance-oriented car, this is not a huge deal. The exhaust note on the other hand, is a bit harder to forgive… To be frank, it sounds pretty pathetic from outside; though it isn’t too bad from the inside thanks to fairly realistic piped-in exhaust noise.


Interior:

At its heart, the Stinger GT is a performance grand touring car, rather than an all-out sports car. True, its quite powerful and handles even better than some rivals, but where the Stinger really shines is in its vastly superior ride quality and cabin noise insulation, which soaks up bumps and road noises extremely well. Trunk space is generous thanks to a lift-back design, but rear seats could feel a bit cramped for adults due to limited legroom and a low roofline.

The rear seats feel slightly more cramped than in some competitors, such as the Mercedes C-Class

While some could argue the interior design is a bit plain, there is no denying that the materials and build quality is superb. Pictures do not do this interior justice; everything you touch is solidly put together with zero rattles or creaks. Soft Nappa leather and real aluminium trim covers the dash, door panels, and seats, and centre console. Even the buttons and knobs feel tactile and befitting of a true luxury car. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the infotainment system, which is plucked straight out of Kia’s lesser models. Although simple and intuitive to use, the 8-inch touchscreen sticks out like a sore thumb due to its dated UI, small and low-resolution display, and slow software. Also missing is the option for a fully digital instrument cluster, which can be found in most cars of this class (albeit as a pricey option).




Exterior impressions:

Exterior styling is subjective, but there is no denying the Stinger GT is a beautifully designed car. Rip off that Kia badge, and the majority of people will never guess you’re driving a Kia. During my time with the Stinger, I even had people tell me they thought it was a Maserati, until they saw the badge…

2020 Stinger GT at the Canadian International Auto Show

Speaking of the Kia badge, let’s address that elephant in the room. No matter how impartial you try to be, it’s still hard to accept the idea of coughing up over $50,000 for a Kia, because lets face it; the Kia brand isn’t exactly synonymous with luxury, class, or performance. Luckily, this can be remedied to a degree. Of the many Stinger GT owners I’ve met, a fair number of them had chosen to debadge their cars, or replace them with the obscure and relatively unknown “E” badge that the Stinger GT sports in South Korea.

OEM 'E' badge, found on South Korean market models


Ownership and Service Experience:

With such an amazing car (and not a particularly cheap one either) one can’t help but expect a little bit of pampering when it comes time to visit the dealer to purchase, or return for service. I visited several Kia dealerships to see how it would feel to be a long-term Stinger owner, and I have to say, both the buying and service experience is a mixed bag depending on where you decide to take your business. A few of the dealers I visited in smaller cities were quite lovely, with friendly and warm sales and service staff, but many of the busier Kia dealerships in larger cities (namely Toronto and North York) treat you with apathy, except for going out of their way to try to wring every last penny out of you with unnecessary add-ons. Don’t expect a comparable complimentary loaner vehicle either, while your ride is in the shop. Granted, servicing costs are about half of what you’d pay for any luxury competitors, and the Stinger’s industry leading '5 year/100,000km bumper-to-bumper warranty’ should ensure your wallet remains happy.



Final Thoughts:

The Stinger GT really is one of the best value performance luxury cars out there, punching well above its weight and showing up the Germans when it comes to price-per-performance. Its potent 3.3T V6 has an amazing torque curve that makes it an absolute blast, and the car handles like a true sports sedan, yet its ride qualtiy is reminiscent of a GT cruiser. If you’re considering anything along the lines of the Mercedes C43 AMG, BMW 340i/440i M-Sport, or Audi S4/S5, be sure to give the Stinger a shot; you might just find yourself falling in love with it.


Recommended Build: GT Limited ($50,495 CAD)

With only $5500 separating the base ‘GT’ from the fully-loaded GT Limited, the GT Limited represents the better value, bundling in a larger infotainment screen, heads-up display, 15-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, Nappa leather seats, and a limited-slip differential for superior handling.

Regardless, you can’t go wrong with either option; the base 'GT' already comes with massive Brembo brakes, leather seats, wireless phone charging capability, a sunroof, and more.