2018 Kia Stinger First Impression | Edmunds

2018 Kia Stinger First Impression

Kia made waves at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show by debuting a new five-passenger fastback sedan called the Stinger. This is the production version of a concept vehicle that Kia introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2011. When the Stinger goes on sale in late 2017, it aims to compete against luxury brands including BMW, Audi, Lexus and Alfa Romeo, but no pricing estimates are available at this time.

Not all of the concept car's radical features carried over to production, but many of the fundamental design elements are there. Sharp, swept-back LED headlights flank the signature "tiger nose" grille, and the tailpipe count now numbers four instead of the original dual setup. Kia says aero elements such as the vertical slits in the front fascia called "air curtains," side vents and rear diffuser all serve a purpose beyond style.

With a wheelbase of 114.0 inches — the distance between the front and rear wheels — and an overall length of 190.2 inches, the Stinger lands somewhere between a compact 3 Series and midsize 5 Series. The long rear overhang looks more prominent in person than in photos, but it ensures an ample amount of cargo space is available behind the rear seats.

Although the Stinger's aggressive and upscale design is certainly noteworthy, what lies beneath the sheet metal is even more exciting. First there are the engines: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the base car and a larger twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 for the top-line GT model, good for 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. Both engines will come with an eight-speed automatic transmission that you can manually shift via steering-wheel paddles, and both have the option of rear- or all-wheel drive. Kia says the Stinger GT trim will have a top speed of 167 mph and accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in about 5 seconds.

But it's not just straight-line speed Kia is concerned with. The automaker is also introducing an all-new electronically adjustable suspension it's calling Dynamic Stability Damping Control, helping expand the Stinger's range of performance and comfort. Suspension damping can be altered on the fly, with five selectable drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Personal and Smart), softening the suspension for more comfort and firming it for better response. The drive modes will also alter the drive system characteristics such as steering, throttle response and transmission shifting.

Additionally Kia is equipping rear-wheel-drive Stinger models with a limited-slip differential, which helps evenly distribute power between wheels when exiting a turn. All-wheel-drive models get torque vectoring that utilizes the brakes, allowing the Stinger to carve a tighter line.

Interior sophistication is elevated with more substantial-looking switchgear and the option of soft premium-leather upholstery and seats with adjustable air cushions. A color TFT screen within the gauge cluster displays performance data such as laps times, cornering g-forces and engine-oil temperature, along with the the more standard trip computer functions and navigation prompts. Kia's usual suite of available comfort offerings and active driver safety aids is also available, with the addition of a new Driver Attention Alert system. The system monitors driving inputs to determine if you're getting drowsy and will suggest that you take a break if needed.

If the price is right, the 2018 Kia Stinger may just have the style and hardware to successfully poach customers from the best luxury brands. We'll know better once we get behind the wheel.

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