Kia has come a long way in the past few years, especially shedding its image of making stylish hatchbacks and CUVs that lacked the performance figures to go head to head against its rivals. With the Stinger, Kia has improved its focus on the overall performance of its product and yet maintains its design USP. The aggressively styled sedan is a step forward for the South Korean carmaker as it takes on the likes of BMW, Audi, Infiniti and other brands. The performance figures of the Stinger are sure to surprise you – but not as much as its modest price. Especially when you consider its German counterpart which is way above the Kia’s price bracket.
The BMW Gran Coupe 430i and 440i, on the other hand, complete the 4 series along with the Coupe and Convertible. While these have been traditionally a part of the 3 series, the upward naming is largely in response to Audi’s A5 range.
The Stinger shares many of its dimensions with the Kia Optima – but is positioned above the latter due to its greater power, suspension and sleek, modern design – thanks to the chiefs Gregory Guillaume and Peter Schreyer. Unlike most production cars, the Stinger matches the good looks of the concept car which first debuted in 2011. Its stance is wide and low with a sleek roofline complementing the aggressive grille at the front. This helps the Stinger stand out in a crowded parking lot. What’s more, stretching 190 inches long, standing at 55 inches and with a width of 77 inches (excluding mirrors), the Stinger is larger than most of the cars in its segment. Additionally, Continental’s 18 inch alloys shod in 225/45 R18 and suspended at front axle on MacPhersons add more substance to the Stinger’s design. It’s safe to say the Stinger makes plenty of heads turn on the road thanks to its beautiful, sleek and unique design.
As for the BMW the Stinger competes with, there’s little difference on the outside between the Gran Coupe and the Coupe. The 430i and 440i are a bit more cab heavy with similar A pillar and nose. While the Gran Coupe retains the length, width and wheelbase of the Coupe, it does stand a bit taller. Having said that, the Stinger beats the Gran Coupe in all dimensions except for the height. This is largely because Kia has designed its sedan keeping in mind a sporty, low stance.
Upon entering the Stinger, you see the cabin is well equipped with heated and ventilated leather seats and an 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system. While Kia has matched its German rivals in terms of exterior design and performance, it’s not 100% there with quality of materials in the interior. They’re not far off – but not exactly there just yet. Then again, it offers everything at a considerably lower cost than its rivals. For many buyers, this is an acceptable trade off – and easy to overlook. However, Kia in no way compromises the comfort of its passengers.
The front and rear seats are both comfortable and roomy – though due to the low stance – the Stinger offers better legroom than headroom. The front seats are electrically adjustable while the 8 inch touchscreen on the dashboard is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It incorporates satellite navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity – and is highly responsive with negligible lag.
Despite carrying the BMW badge, the Gran Coupe has a relatively dull interior. For quite a few surfaces like door handles and cup holders, the German automaker has used cheap hard plastic, taking away the sheen of its generally plush interiors. Getting in and out of the car is not as comfortable as the Stinger as you have to climb in and then fall back into position. While legroom is on par with the Stinger, there’s not much more headroom despite being taller than the Stinger. For the fifth passenger, sitting is pretty uncomfortable.
Engine & Performance
The Kia Stinger is available in three trims and with two engines. The base and premium trims run on a 2.0 liter turbo inline four cylinder pumping out 255 horsepower. These figures take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Lexus as it runs from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. The top end Stinger GT has a 365-hp twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 at its heart and is one of the quickest all-wheel-drive cars in the segment. This one is capable of hitting 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds.
The Stinger’s acceleration is very smooth while the steering effort is moderate. Driving in Sport mode makes the car more energetic, responsive and powerful. The car is highly responsive as soon as you start moving the wheel. Yet the tires never feel like they’re leaving the pavement, which is welcome and expected of a sporty sedan. The Stinger IS a Grand Tourer – so when the dampers are in sport mode, the vehicle still exhibits a little body roll. Having said that, the Stinger GT has amazing handling and is very fun to drive around tight corners – especially after turning off stability control.
The BMW 430i Gran Coupe comes pretty close to matching Kia’s figures. It runs on a 2.0 L twinpower turbocharged 4-cylinder. However, it lacks the same enhancements as the Stinger, coming up short with just 248 hp and 258 lb ft of torque. The 440i goes head to head against the Stinger GT, running on a 3.0 L straight six cylinder engine churning 321 hp. Both the BMWs have lower performance figures compared to the Stinger. While the engines are mated to a six speed manual gearbox, you also get the option of an eight speed automatic.
On right angled turns, the Gran Coupe is quick to respond when asked for a change in direction. It has little body roll – while the steering is medium weight, yet precise.
The Gran Coupe responds quickly with changes in direction, with very little body roll and very little drama. The steering is on the medium side, very precise, and dead on center. Ultimately one will feel this BMW is up to the par as far as most aggressive driving abilities.
The Kia Stinger is a bold statement by the Korean carmaker with an exceptional design and extraordinary handling capability while still offering a comfortable and plaint ride. One of the main attractions is its superior torque and power figures over the established players in the segment. A ten year warranty and a much reasonable price tag means the Stinger should be a serious option for all luxury brand buyers in the market.